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Have another Donut

by Laurelle Williams / 24.01.2011

Why is it okay to tell skinny people they’re skinny in public? “Oh you’re so skinny! How do you do it?” But not cool to say as much to overweight people? “Oh you’re so fat! How do you do it?”

I’m one of the ‘skinny’ people. There I admit it. I love it. I’m happy to be skinny. But I find it offensive when someone reduces me to my body. Hello I have a brain up here! Even the word ‘skinny’ kind of irks. It’s the negative spin of thin. Suggesting unhealthiness. Sickly thin like a Bronte sister. Language is the conveyor of differences. We need to guard against it. Why not use “slim” or “slender”? Both lovely F.Scott Fitzgerald type terms. Elevating and attractive.

Then there’s the assumption that we “skinny” folk (increasingly threatened with extinction before the expensive and destructive epidemic of obesity, an epidemic that has seen social scientists coin the term “globesity”) either starve ourselves or blow chunks in the bathroom after dessert. Hello it’s not rocket science! Some of us are born like this okay. It’s in the genes. It isn’t some new age miracle or an indictment of your own body shape or choices. And it has to be said: as a general rule, eat less and exercise more. (I know I sound like an obnoxious slender person now, but it’s true).

Society has made women (and increasingly men) obsessed with weight. The global diet industry is bigger than gaming. It’s massive. An ongoing international obsession. It’s an obsession that regularly spills over into my everyday life. Women are forever grilling me over my body shape. And it’s not just overweight women. Women of all shapes and sizes try to get to the bottom of my slimness.
Handling these enquiries takes tact and skill. You have to evaluate whether the woman is sincere or just being jealous and envious.

Jealousy: “You’re so skinny! Shame. Do you starve yourself?”
Said casually but poisonous with an evil undertone.
My response, “No, I am just lucky. I’m naturally thin.”

Admiration: “You have a great body, so slim!”
She’s genuine. A conversation on gym routines and calories ensues. Friendship blooms.

Even fellow ‘skinny’ girls sometimes ask me how to stay thin! WTF? These are the girls for whom skinny enough is not an option. They may even be the source of all the trouble. They give us bad reputations. That kind of superficial fixation can be deadly. Starvation and laxatives or some other insane way of staying thin is in their short future. Death by magazines. Death by fashion.

So next time you’re out and about to cut the skinny girl at the party down to size – be careful. She just might fire back (after you’ve asked the perennial skinny question), “How do you stay so chunky?”

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