It only very recently occurred to me that just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they have perfect lives with all the things they could possibly ever want. B.A.N.A.N.A.S.
As it turns out, you can be skinny and still have disordered eating habits. You can be skinny and still have negative thoughts about yourself. You can be skinny and still end up in a shitty relationship. These things really only occurred to me later in life because I was so conditioned to think that skinny = happy.
I can tell you the exact moment I remember thinking my life would be perfect if I was skinny. I was in my last year of high school, walking to the YMCA with my friend and I said “You know, I’m smart, funny and pretty enough (so I’ve been told). If I lost weight, my life would be perfect and I would have everything I ever wanted.”
This is possibly an extraneous detail but I used to go to the Y a lot because I had a crush on this boy who played basketball there and well, he needed to see how athletic I was. But I also thought he’d never date me because of my size. Fun fact – while we never actually dated, we were making out in the laundry room at a house party years later and he said to me “You’re so beautiful and you don’t even know it.” *heart melts, yes I will have your babies*
Back to the actual point of this story. There is no single determinant of happiness, and even if there were, it most certainly wouldn’t be size. The process of unlearning this lesson is ongoing and I have to remind myself every single day. My body is my body and I appreciate it for what it does for me, gives me and allows me to do. To wish it looked differently completely negates all of the fabulous things it provides. You wouldn’t ever look at someone you love and think “I love you, but I wish you looked differently”.* We have such a hard time showing ourselves the same compassion and unconditional love that we show others, but it’s so necessary.
I’m not at the point where I can look at my body and say “wow, you’re beautiful and I love you”. I think I’m closer to the point of saying “I appreciate you and accept you the way you are”. There’s an important difference there and hopefully one day I’ll move beyond simple acceptance to unconditional love, but today isn’t that day and I’m ok with that.
I’ve also learned that it’s important to be supportive of others who might live in small- or average-sized bodies and be compassionate to their internal struggles. I have friends who specialize in negative self-talk and it’s so, so hard to hear. I used to think that if they were saying those terrible things about themselves in their athletic, tall, lean bodies, then what on earth must they be saying about me?! The truth is they aren’t focused on me and my larger body because they are so focused on themselves. For those friends, I hope you can find self-compassion and acceptance at some point in your own journey. And if ever you want to shoot some ideas around for how you can get started, I’d be happy to volunteer because you’re beautiful and I love you.
*If you do look at a loved one and either think that or say that, then I would suggest you turn your focus inward and think about why that’s so important to you. That is your shit to carry, not theirs. Stop putting it on them and let them be fabulous just the way they are.