Skinny and Its Place in Society

Many people-- girls and guys alike-- have had the thought "I wish I was skinner" run through their minds. They think it would make their life so much less complicated, and understandably so. It seems that society is only equipped to deal with two groups of people: Skinny and everyone else. 

I'm not here to tell you that being skinny is bad. I'm not here to tell you that not being skinny is bad. I'm not here to shame you for your body. I'm here to explain why "skinny" is a bad goal, and being "healthy" should be the priority.

We Fear Fat

I was a skinny kid until the dreaded torture that is puberty came around. Since fifth grade, I've been described as curvy. Mentally, I made this word synonymous with what I perceived as an insult: "fat." This is where it started to go wrong, because the word "fat" to describe someone is oversimplified to the point that it is just wrong.

It is hard to differentiate between having fat and being fat. Having fat is factual. Being fat is a shameful existence. So we tell ourselves that skinny is the opposite. We tell ourselves that "skinny" is the solution to all our problems brought on by our bodies. So that is what we strive for, the vague idea that we can be cured of our fatness.

I can tell you from my own experience that striving for "skinny" is a dangerous game, because when I was aiming for "skinny," I never believed I was "thin enough." So I hurt my body in order to achieve an unhealthy goal. I did this by not eating enough to fuel my body, which had consequences I could not see ahead of me as I stumbled blindly towards the idea of being thin. I believed that being thin meant being pretty, and I wanted that more than anything, even more than being healthy.

It's Not So Simple to Be Skinny

I understand that some people are skinny, and they are not doing what I did to achieve this. Some of my friends eat like crap, some of my friends eat a healthy diet, and yet both groups could be described as "skinny." You can be healthy and skinny. You can be unhealthy and skinny. You can be unhealthy and not skinny. You can be healthy and not skinny. Skinny is usually judged on appearance, but let's talk about weight for a little bit.

Weight is so complicated. There are so many factors to take into consideration. Off of the top of my head, here are a few: height, muscle mass versus fat, diet, exercise, genetics, body shape, bone structure, your body clinging to fat despite a healthy lifestyle, your body settling at a "plateau weight," being allergic to certain foods or food groups, fad dieting and yo-yoing weight... That list took me, a college student who is not studying nutrition, one minute to make. Imagine the list a specialist has. Losing weight is not as simple as it seems. You are not a failure if you are "doing everything right" (meaning eating food that is nutritious and exercising) but not losing weight.

So why are we aiming for skinny? It seems obvious: because society loves for people to be skinny. Clothes are marketed to skinny people far more than "plus size" clothing. "Plus size" itself is a loaded term now synonymous with "fat," which as a negative term in this day and age. Movies parade almost exclusively "skinny" people as the main characters, unless the movie is focusing on weight. This extends to roles in TV shows, plays, and musicals as well. We are surrounded by the idea that "skinny" is normal, and if you aren't skinny, you aren't normal.

It's Time We Changed Our Thinking

Skinny should not be our goal. It's an unhealthy goal. Our goal should be to eat food that is good for our bodies, eat enough of it, and exercise so that we can live longer without disease and pain. Because health matters for everyone, no matter if you're trying to look a certain way to feel beautiful, or have realized that you are beautiful the way you are.

Love Your Body

Your body is your body. You should not treat your body as anything other than magical. So aim to be healthy, because your body deserves nothing less.