It’s something that’s not really talked about, especially for women. It’s apparently a secret that you’re supposed to keep close to the chest and only your doctor and maybe your significant other will know it, because it just can’t be helped. But why is that? Why can’t we openly talk about it like any other problem we talk about? Hearing so many people come out now stating they’ve had issues with weight in the past just shows how much pressure keeping such a secret is. It’s not good for anyone and it affects everyone in different ways, from both sides of the spectrum.
I’ve always been the skinniest, tallest, lankiest person in any group. Throughout primary school I remember having to get my uniforms made eventually because we couldn’t find any that would fit both my height and how skinny I was. I didn’t really see it as a problem. I think I was still under 90 pounds at age 11 but again, I didn’t see a problem. It was just the way I was just like how others were short or tall, I just happened to be really slender. I got teased sometimes but it never stuck with me enough for me to not like the way I was. I accepted it.
Fast forward about 2 years, changed schools twice and I finally meet two people who are like me, tall and slender. I would say I had that sense of belonging when we would go out and we could actually wear each other’s clothes or talk about what stores had the smaller sizes for us. To find that person that faces the same challenges was a relief. We hit milestones together like finally getting over 100 pounds around the age of 14 or 15. Growing out of size 00 and into just a 0. It was great to share that with someone.
When I was 16 I took a break from dancing and tried out modelling a bit. I went to workshops, did some school shows and I explored this actually being a future for me. At the workshops the girls were slender like me, but not as much. I would always be singled out in the group as having the ideal size. Someone actually said “the skinnier the better, you have to be like a hanger” to us. I didn’t think anything of it, just that maybe this is the path I should be on since I fit what seemed to be the basic criteria. It was during a rehearsal for a school show that I realized how much my being the way I was, was affecting others.
People would always say “I wish I was as skinny as you” and I would say, “Not when you have to buy jeans” because seriously it was hard to find skinny jeans. It wasn’t something to try to be for me. It was still just the way I was. Naturally. I mean I danced about 4 times a week for over 15 years and ate like a teenage boy. Looking back I can see how people would be envious but back then I only saw how expensive it was to feed me. Then there’s the flip side to it all. People asking if I had a eating disorder, the way adults would watch me at lunch just to make sure I was actually eating. The stares were there and the questions all over their faces. I never thought someone my age or like me would go to such lengths to be thinner so I thought they were all crazy. Until I had a friend that did go that far. She did a couple of the modelling workshops with me and every time I would get singled out for “having the ideal size” for modelling I would feel like I was adding to her unhappiness. I started to feel ashamed for being so skinny. The name calling didn’t get to me, not the teasing, but the look on her face made me feel guilty. Of course that was the end of modelling for me. It just felt like I was flaunting it.
So back to dance I went and I was happy. I was still the tallest, skinniest in my classes but it wasn’t talked about in an unhealthy way. There were others like me and we all understood the downside of it. I was still given the smallest sizes for all the costumes that still had to be taken in but I didn’t feel guilty anymore. It’s funny that dance was the healthy place for me because of all the self critique that ballet brings. Staring in a mirror to find and fix all of your flaws can take a serious tole on your mental health. It can be an unhealthy place to be if you’re not sure of yourself but it was the only place that I didn’t feel like i stuck out like a sore thumb.
Fast forward again about 5 years to 2012/2013 and I’m growing up. I was no longer a teenager and other things in life started to take over. School became a priority and I started to dance less intensely. I was still going 5 maybe 6 days a week but you can only fight genetics for so long. I was 21 and I guess my body was telling me it just needed a little more. I went from 120 pounds to 125. Not a big jump but it showed. I stayed that weight for a long time too but when I finally stopped dancing and moved to New York I was 130 pounds but I felt good. I said goodbye to my thigh gap and embraced buying normal sizes. A size 2. I finally got to stop asking for a size 0 the moment I entered a store.
Four years later I’m still finding MY normal. No one really tells you what to expect when you make a big life change like going from dancing 6 days a week to nothing. They don’t tell you that your bra size will change dramatically or how awkward it feels to finally have your thighs touch for the first time. They also don’t tell you not to freak out when the numbers on the scale get bigger. Honestly, I knew that I wasn’t fat in the eyes of others but for a while I called it ‘My fat’ and I had the stretch marks to prove it. My body and frame was really not having it with all the extra size. Lucky for me I had my sister. I was able to talk to her about getting heavier in a way that didn’t play into developing an eating disorder. She just basically explained that no grown adult can stay the size I was at 16. I’ts impossible. Plus I got to wear her clothes and since to me she was far from fat, wearing her clothes meant that I also wasn’t fat. But being ‘fat’ or overweight is a personal thing that no BMI index or any other numbers can dictate. Everyone is different and has a different frame and body type. Like seriously I can’t imagine being 125 pounds again. I don’t even care about my weight anymore, it’s more about how I look in all the nice clothes I buy 🙂
I’ve accepted that I’m never going to be my old size again but it still stings a little when people tell me they want to be my size. I still feel guilty for being something that someone strives for. I don’t want that. Especially when I can see how awesome and full their life is. I love that I can ask for a normal size in a store like a 4. That sounds normal to me. I love that I can fill out all of my cute tops and that I can share clothes with my sister. And most of all, I love that I’m okay with all of this.