Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm Skinny. I Can Eat Whatever I Want

**Warning, this post discusses a very sensitive topic. Those who have issues with food or body imagine should not read this post. Please do not read if you are sensitive to such topics. **

Source: iStockPhoto

Raise your hand if someone has ever told you, "You are so lucky. You're so skinny! You could eat anything you want!". Or how about this, "You're so skinny! Go eat a freakin' burger!" My hand is raised, times a thousand. Remember my last post? I talked about the major issue I have with the phrase "going on a diet". Well today I'm going to talk about another issue I have; people assuming things about people based on their size, and people assuming that it's ok to make comments about someone's weight if they are skinny (as if it's any different than commenting on someone being overweight).

Let's say I walk up to an overweight guy and tell him, "DAMN! You're huge! You need to STOP eating! Man, go eat a salad or something!" How would he feel? Probably not so good. So what gives people the right to tell someone who is small, like I am, that they need to "go eat a burger", or that they are "so lucky because you can eat whatever you want and not get fat". Seriously people, it's annoying!

You see this stomach?
That's me. You see those red lines? When I sit I get rolls of fat and they turn into red lines when I stand (from the crease). I'm in no way saying that I think I'm fat (I know I'm not), but instead I'm using the picture above to make a point. I actually tried to get a picture of my cellulite on my legs, which is something that people always tell me "I'll never have to worry about" because they think they know my body well, and they assume that women won't get cellulite if they are skinny, HA!. So...why am I telling you this, and what is my point? I am a healthy weight, and even though you may not know it when you see me in clothes, I do have some fat on my body. I'm part of a family who tends to carry fat in one place, and that's the stomach. When I wear clothes the only thing people can see is my fat-less butt, my skinny legs, my skinny arms, and my long skinny fingers. What is more difficult to see is that I actually carry fat in one of the most dangerous places; above my waist. I am what you may call, "an apple". Women with the apple shape are at greater risk for heart disease, which explains the heart disease that runs in my family.

I'm sick of people assuming that they know everything about me and my eating habits the second they meet me. I speak for all skinny (and larger!) people out there, really, because I know I'm not the only one who feels like they are unfairly judged by the shape of their body. Either people assume I "eat nothing" or they assume I can "eating anything I want" and the bottom line is that I do eat anything I want, but in a healthy and moderate way. I practice what I preach. I worry about my health and I want to feel and look good. Who doesn't? When I say "no" to a dessert, it's not because I think it will "make me fat" it's because I'd prefer to have something else, or maybe I've already had a dessert that day, or maybe I am just not hungry! I do watch my intake of sugars, but not because I don't want to get fat, it's because I know I have to, for the rest of my life, in order to prevent my apple shape from ever getting to a dangerous point (read about waist-to-hip ratios, here). Also, by watching my sugar intake, I am taking care of my heart. I'll never deny myself a dessert that I want, but I've learned to practice good self-control. I care about my life, and my body, and I'm proud of it too, fat rolls and all ;)

There is nothing we can do to prevent the changes that naturally occur to our body as we age. We can, however, learn to love our body, eat intuitively and change our habits as we get older (because we just don't need as many calories as we did when we were young). When I choose to eat a salad at dinner, or pass on a dessert, it's not because I'm "on a diet" it's because I actually love vegetables and other healthy foods, and to me it's not deprivation at all. I treat myself on plenty of occasions, and I always will. I don't have to prove myself to anyone, but now perhaps people will understand that just because someone looks skinny doesn't mean they have perfect health and need not worry about any chronic conditions, and it doesn't mean they can eat anything and everything they want, and it doesn't mean they starve themselves (and the same goes for people who are larger...they aren't all lazy and unhealthy like so many people assume!!!).

Question: Have you ever been in a situation where you felt unfairly judged about your decisions to eat healthier, or live a healthier lifestyle? Have you ever felt judged because of your body type or your size? It's time to VENT!


  1. I get those kinds of comments a lot...since I am a wellness coach and also teach college nutrition classes (even the students make comments!).
    My response is always, "no one is perfect, but I work really hard to take care of myself and eat well."

    It used to bother me, but doesn't really anymore---no one knows what they're talking about! And I think it's based, often, on their own insecurities...they have to make a spectacle of someone else to cover up what they're insecure about. I think it really is a compliment in disguise---but it doesn't feel like it!

    Whatever body-cards you're dealt are different than anyone else's and no one can really totally relate to yours (speaking from one so-called "skinny girl with cellulite" to another!

  2. I love this post. I'd actually like to print it out and hand it to people. Can you make a business card sized version? I'm 5'6 and weigh about 130 pounds. I work out between 5-6 days a week and I eat as healthy as I can - especially during the week. At work, I constantly pass on unnecessary food. I get comments all the time! Sometimes it's as simple as No, I just packed my lunch so I don't want to go and get greasy, crappy food with you. I look very thin, but I still have stored fat from when I was an overweight kid and teen. I feel great with my clothes on, but people don't know what's underneath - or they never believe that I grew up chubby, learned crazy bad eating habits, and was 180 pounds at my heaviest. Great post, Gina.

  3. I love, love, love this post! I think naturally thin people and naturally larger people suffer the unfair judgments of others. If there is anything I have taught my students, it is to not base someone's health status or eating/exercise habits on their looks. It is unfair and unreliable...completely unreliable! Genes play such a larger part in shape, size, structure, that "health" is not an image, it's a lifestyle!

    LOVE this post! Woo! Go Gina!

    Have an amazing weekend :)

  4. excellent post gina! YOu know that dietitians in general get comments for the way they eat (or the way people assume we eat). I get so sick of it! I actually work REALLY hard to be thin or should I say at my happy size. I work out 5-6 days a week, I eat healthy/watch portions/eat mindfully, and yes, occasionally turn down dessert if I know I've already eaten something sweet that day (not always though). I think people think anyone who is thin ogt their naturally. not the case for me! I have to work hard at it!

  5. I can relate to this a lot. In grade school, I used to get made fun of for being skinny, a time when health certainly wasn't at the forefront of my mind. It definitely gave me a complex. As I got older, but even more particularly when I moved into a big city, people were more receptive to the fact that I'm NATURALLY thin. Since, I've developed a passion for health, so I do eat pretty healthy. But like you, this has nothing to do with fear of getting fat! And I'm sure people judge me all the time for this, but I'm learning not to care. I feel my best with a healthy diet, and it's not like I don't let myself eat crappy food when I want to. Good post Gina. I can definitely relate.

  6. Very true post- though I will say an odd number of people DO in fact say to Eric, "many you are HUGE!"- I think they think it's okay because he's not fat, just very tall and football player looking haha, however I am always shocked by it time and time again- I'm like ummm... really? did you just say that? haha

    I think the skinny comments about being able to eat whatever you want is just jealousy coming out. Of course that doesn't make it any less annoying haha.

  7. You caught me on this one Gina! I'm so tired to justify what I eat and how I eat.... to the point that my friends/family don't ask me anymore because they know what they'll get: it's my business and i know better than anyone else what's best for me.
    And so true that people judges us like hobbie when we're not allowed to say a thing about big/fat people because we don't want to hurt their feelings. what about us? who's doing the right thing to take care of our body? what's wrong with that? is that because they envy our willingness to be healthy? is that because they can't commit the effort to be healthy so they look us as the odd people. But what they don't realize is that WE DO IT EFFORTLESSLY!!! really!!! sometimes when I don't do what I'm used to, like eating out all the time and whatever it appears in front of me, I feel I'm doing a big effort trying not to be healthy!!!
    sigh.... what a topic! and I'm witness of a skinny person, aka my hubby, who is at risk of having diabetes... so, here you have: skinny people can't/won't eat whatever they can because they want to be healthy too!!!
    great post! I need to take a pic of my "fat" part too!

  8. love this post. it's a topic i don't think a lot of people think about. larger people think there's really no way skinny people could be insulted about their weight. thanks for pointing out that skinny people can be offended too, and that instead of focusing on size, we should be focusing on putting healthy fuel into our bodies and making them the best they can be from the inside out, no matter what the size on the outside.

  9. Wonderful post! (as always!)
    I do get judged A LOT. Especially because I'm a vegetarian and often bring huge salads, fruit, etc to school for snacks...people think that's all I eat! Girls in my program have told me that I'm so lucky I can eat anything I want and not gain weight...not true! I make sure to let them know that I work out 4 times a week and that I really can't just eat anything! I have even showed a few of the girls my blog, from when I was heavier.
    I think I'm an apple fat centers around my stomach and it is really hard for me to tone that area!

  10. YES YES YES YES seriously THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. love this post! it also reminds me of the criticism dietitians/dietetics students get about food. if i'm eating a salad, i get comments about how "perfect" i'm eating but if i have a dessert, i shouldn't be eating it because i study nutrition! what gives!

  12. This post is perfect! I seriously wonder what's really going on in people's heads when they make comments about me being skinny.

    I love how you talk about going up to an overweight person and making comments. Who would do that?! It shouldn't be okay the other way around.

  13. Gina! I love this post! First of all, I have to admit that in the past I have made comments to naturally skinny people about how lucky they are because they are so skinny or just blatantly saying that "I wish I had that problem".

    It never occurred to me that I could actually be insulting these people until a friend of mine told me she couldn’t gain weight because of a medical condition and wasn’t happy about it. It made me feel horrible for making dumb coments.

    However, from then on, I've never made those type of "skinny" comments again. I was bullied as a child for being overweight, hence, I should have definitely known better than to comment about peoples weight.

    However, lesson learned! and Im a better person for realizing it on time :). Thanks for this amazing post!!!

  14. ..oh and one more thing, Ive def. been unfairly judged in the past for making healthy eating choices when Im with friends and family. I've felt like 'all eye on me'. However, Ive learned to live for MYSELF and disregard peoples opinion because at the end of the day, is about my body, life and health and no one elses! :)

  15. oh i LOVED this post! i get the you're so skinny you don't have to workout or you'll so skinny eat a burger instead of salmon, i'm like people you need to relax. people just assume that because you're thin its easy to find clothes and maintain a weight loss but it's just as hard as losing! i loved that you were so honest and i wish more people could see this so they could stop judging and just mind their own biz!

  16. Great post! I agree 100%. It is really nice to know someone else out there feels the same way about so many of the same things. I am really glad to have found you and your blog because it helps me feel better about myself because honestly I say some of these things and people look at me like I have 3 heads. You can imagine the shock on my students (freshman and sophomores in college) faces when I told them that being skinny doesn't equal healthy. Just because you can see something from the outside doesn't mean you know what things look like on the inside. They were all saying they can eat fast food every day and not worry because they have a fast metabolism. I had to squash that one fast! They had no idea that the actual composition of the food made a difference too. They were amazed to know it is possible to be overweight, eat well and have no diseases present (with low risk due to current diet intake). While it is more common to have disease and risk present with overweight and obesity it is not a guarantee. Outside and inside health are very different. Great post!

  17. I HATE those comments. They are SO awkward!! I also HATE getting flack for living a healthy lifestyle. I especially get upset when someone says something about me not eating white flours on a daily basis--not only is whole grain/whole wheat nutritionally superior, it fills me up more and i TRULY think it tastes better!

  18. Gina, thank you for this post!! I want to give you a big hug across the web!! I work out at the gym every morning before work, which means that I have to get up at 5am every day, but I think it's worth it because exercise is important to living a healthy lifestyle... Yet so often, I'm teased for being "crazy" for working out early in the morning or told "well that's why you're so skinny, it's because you work out like a crazy person." Actually, I don't work out like a "crazy person" at all, I just exercise moderately (my neuro issues currently don't even allow me to do high impact cardio like running) every day and eat healthful foods moderately every day because my health is important to me, and I just happen to have a body type exactly like you described - bony everywhere with most of my "substance" in my center. When I hear comments every day, though, I start feeling self-conscious about what I eat, which I know isn't healthy! I start worrying - oh my, I'm eating a salad, are they going to think I don't eat enough even though I was just in the mood for a salad today? Or, oh my, I'm having cheese on my sandwich today - they're going to tease me about "getting fat for once..." It's enough to cause someone to have an eating disorder. Thank you for standing up and speaking out!! *hugs of gratitude*

  19. Thank you for posting about this!! I have gone through periods of being extremely annoyed with comments like "go eat a burger" or "you can eat anything you want" etc etc etc. I have struggled with my weight (both up & down) and have finally reached a well balanced & healthy lifestyle. But that is because I care about my health and incorporate both healthy eating & exercise every single day.

    I indulge when I want (like the pb & chocolate cupcake I am eating right now) & eat huge salads & veggies when I want because they are GOOD! I have learned that most comments come from people who are insecure & is meant to be more of a complement. But I often find myself having to defend my healthy lifestyle. Which is aggravating because it would be offensive if I asked people why do you eat fast food & donuts on a daily basis?? Go eat a salad!! :-D

  20. I've always been skinny as a stick so yeah, I understand where you're coming from. I don't think people have the right to make rude, insensitive comments. In a perfect world, nobody would care how you look like. But me being brought up in an Asian world, it's all too common for relatives to say, "Here! Have another bowl of rice" at the same table as them turning to my plump cousin next to me and say, "Stop eating! Give your rice to your cousin! She needs it more than you!"

    It's quite frustrating.

    But the irony is that I do get a bit hyper-sensitive about people eating only salads for dinner...because I instinctively equate that to my disordered past. I hope I can get over this kind of hyper-sensitive ED radar, because it just aggravates me. Most of the time I do detect correctly and the person I suspect ends up admitting her issues, but sometimes it's easier for me if I can turn it off.

    That said, going back to your argument, just because you're "skinny" does not mean you shouldn't treat your body right: you should still eat healthy and work out. We can't judge a person by one meal.

  21. I never comment on blogs but I have been following yours for a while and just had to on this one. I have such a hard time with this. I am a currently a dietetics major at school and just in general enjoy eating healthy, making healthy creations, I could eat fruits and vegetables all day and be the happiest person cause they are so delicious. My friends are ALWAYS commenting. How can that be enough, why dont you eat this, why are you eating that, what is that, on and on and on. Its extremely frustrating. At times I find myself eating things I never would and that make me feel crappy simply because I do not want to answer the questions or feel like I am being looked at or judge for eating what I enjoy, not just because it is healthy.

    Thank you for this post. I am glad to see I am not the only one.

  22. Gina - I wish I had time to leave more comments but this one I couldn't let slip by! Bless you for writing it so honestly.

    I've had coworkers say, oh you don't have to eat salad for lunch, you're thin! Or "You can eat anything, you don't have to worry" when I pass on cookies or cake at a meeting. Like just because I'm a normal weight I should give up and NOT try to do what feels best for me??!

    Thanks for a great post!!

  23. i feel the same way. at work, i am the small girl and should eat whatever i want. trust me i have plenty of fat on my body folks! the reason why i am not huge is because i do not eat all that crap!

  24. Such a great post. I think you bring up a really great topic, along with a reminder that we ALL need to be mindful of how we treat our bodies.

  25. Amen amen amen!!!! This is such an AWESOME post. I hate how people assume they can say things about how you eat or what you do based on your size.

  26. This is a great post- people think they can say whatever they think. I'm at a healthy weight, but I put a lot of thought into what I eat, exercise regularly, and prepare meals to make sure that I maintain this weight. I hate when people tell me I can eat anything I want or that I eat so 'healthy' like it's a bad thing.

    They seem to forget it takes work or people have different goals and tastes.

    P.S. I have those little lines on my stomach too- it's all part of being human, right?

  27. I do think it's not right that people think they can make comments about what skinny people do or do not eat, etc. It's also quite annoying (and can be unhealthy) when people try to push food on (skinny) people.

    I agree, skinny does not necessarily equal healthy and it is certainly not a free pass to eat a lot of unhealthy food.

  28. It occurred to me that people who make comments like that obviously have no clue about the relationship between healthful habits and being in shape! :)

    Whenever I get comments like that I always respond that I have to work really hard to stay in shape...this means working out after work when I'm super tired and choosing to eat things that I know are good for me. For some reason, people think that dietitians have super bodies that aren't the same as theirs, which is totally ridiculous. If we don't eat right and exercise, we'll end up overweight, too! I think we have a greater responsibility to live what we practice every day for a living! :) Great post, Gina!

  29. You know I feel Gina, I hate the assumption thin people don't work for their health. You should link to our Fatism post.

  30. I always tell people...

    Just because you're skinny doesn't mean you're healthy. And just because you're carrying some extra lb's doesn't mean your unhealthy.

    Great post!

  31. People say things like that to me all of the time, and I really hate it - especially I've lost 120 pounds to look this way, and I still work really hard to maintain it! Sometimes it's demoralizing even, and it never makes me feel good about eating, say, a donut! Great post!

  32. Ugh I know what you mean! My boss is a big one for that. Any time we have a work function or cookies come into the office, he's like omg you need to eat something. I feel like I'm at a healthy weight and just because I am doesn't mean I should stuff my face with cookies. He tells me it's a "compliment" but it sure doesn't sound like one. I end up asking my fiance if I look emaciated or something. It just stinks because I shouldn't have to feel bad about myself because I'm "skinny."

  33. I'm generally a cold person so when most people are in t-shirts I still have a sweater on. I absolutely HATE it when people tell me to "gain weight" and I'll be warm or "you're too skinny, that's why you're cold". I would NEVER say to a larger person "Loose some weight, then you wouldn't be so hot". It's just rude....either way! I also do not appreciate it when someone sees me come out of the office gym at lunch and says "no wonder you're so work out!" My answer is that I am NOT skinny, I am healthy and fit. Ugh! Like you, people likely don't see the saggy belly from 3 pregnancies or the cellulite on my legs so they shouldn't judge. GREAT post, Gina!

  34. Came across this and a BIG THANK YOU to you for speaking my mind. I've been meaning to rant about this so long time ago especially when people kept saying ' you dont eat anything' or 'you could eat whatever you want to' yea, it's just so plain annoying.

    and lately i've been taking up some healthy drink which apparently they said is for losing weight. But obviously they dont know a thing. I want an ideal weight and dor my skin as well (and it did help!) People argued so much on why did I consume such a product but why cant people think other thing than just losing weight?

    Like you said, we know our body more than anyone else, right? and this: 'people assuming things about people based on their size, and people assuming that it's ok to make comments about someone's weight if they are skinny (as if it's any different than commenting on someone being overweight' is soooo damn right!

    People think that it's so insensitive of someone to talk about fat people. But it's THAT pain in the ass to say that to skinny people too!

    Thank you so much for writing this up ;)

  35. Hey Gina--

    I just started reading your blog and kudos to you for tackling this issue! As a student of nutrition, I feel unfairly judged all the time! People think that being at a healthy weight requires no effort for me and that I know nothing about weight loss. A weight loss client once posed the question to me "Are you going to be a dietitian because you are skinny or are you skinny because you are a dietitian?" I thought that was an interesting question and says a lot about our skewed view of health and weight.

  36. Thanks for a great post. I have had two children, and I get tired of people thinking that I went back to normal without having to work at it. I worked my tail off to eat right and exercise. While breastfeeding helped a little, I worked hard.

    It makes me feel awkward when people assume that you are a particular weight for an extreme reason whether it is under or over.

  37. Great post! I wish you could follow up on this topic!

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  39. I am a pear shaped skinny girl.
    I am 5'9" Weigh 121 pounds.
    And I too, have cellulite and extra areas of body fat.

    But that's not why I am commenting.
    The reason why I am commenting is more of because I agree that comments such as "you're way too skinny, you should come over to my place and I will make you some real food." Can actually be potentially harmful.

    I used to always eat hamburgers. Mc'donalds, at Chilis, you name it. And I absolutely love sweets and bread.
    But when I started getting these comments around freshman year in high school, it got to me.
    I felt like I was doing something wrong.
    How is it that I am still eating everything I want, but am still super skinny (and I'm tall) and I'm getting called names like "Paul Bunyan?"

    I began eating. A lot more than I normally can handle.
    I wanted to get "some meat on my bones"
    get some "curves."

    I gained 25 pounds..

    And then.. I was miserable.
    Once I gained weight, I had reached a point in high school where it became "cool" to be skinnier and fit.
    I had lost a LOT of my stamina, and actually went through depression.

    So, then one day I woke up and just said screw it!
    I joined some kick booking classes so I can shed the pounds that bothered me, and just became a weight that I was comfortable with. Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.

    Anyways! I'm getting off topic.
    My main message to all of you girls out there who are skinny and are receiving these comments:

    Screw them!
    Stay healthy!
    You are the way you are for a reason. Don't fight it.
    Because if you don't you will just end up wasting a lot of money, and gain some potential health threats like heart disease..

    The best thing really to do is to just hit the gym and at least say, "hey i may be skinny, but at least I can beat you up and break through barriers with these abs!"

    Hope this helps..

  40. This was a great post Gina - love the honesty too! I don't know what people think give them a right to judge anyone, skinny or fat!


  41. Sick of getting judged for living off 500 cals a day, and then only to be still fatter. Should I go hi should I go low. If I eat a full meal, people pick on me. Cause it's too much according to them. If I live on 500 cals (which I am no longer doing) I get runny noses, head aches, and I gain weight. I think I need to eat more, and ignore the comments. Good post.