Born this Way.

by , under personal

This week’s Glee was “Born this Way.” In the 90 minute episode, the Gleeks were having some self-confidence issues, so their assignment was to sing Lady GaGa’s “Born this Way” and think about just what label they were worried about.

So people, what would your shirt say? What is it about you that you’re insecure about?

I admit, I’m a pretty confident person. I know who I am, and I’m pretty happy with Whitney – but there’s one thing that I’ve worried about my entire life. My weight. Not necessarily because I’m not happy with it, but because the outside world isn’t.

Toothpick. It’s who I am.

I come from a long line of people who are pretty slim. There’s a wicked metabolism gene that I’m told I’m blessed to have. And yes, it’s meant that I stay slim without a ton of effort. But there’s a downside. I have to eat constantly. (Before you say that it’s a problem you’d like to have, please keep reading.)

From high school onward, I’ve been plagued with rumors of eating disorders. Well meaning people who barely knew me, watched me down a cheeseburger, fries and milkshake, and have told me that I should see someone about my bulimia. In college, I actually had someone ask me who my dealer was – because they assumed that I must be using some sort of drug to stay skinny. When it was a combination of genetics and the exercise I was getting from working at Disneyland.

Being sick is a drag. I’ve learned that I can’t ever mention that I vomited to anyone outside my family, because usually that person will assume that I’m lying about being sick to cover up an eating disorder. If I drop weight from being sick, I know better than to mention it to anyone- I will get no sympathy about being underweight. Instead, I’ll face months of judging looks while I eat some extra calories to try to help build up a healthy layer of fat again.

I’m sure you think it’s mostly in my head. But that’s the point, isn’t it? People say cruel things and it gets to the point where it becomes what you worry about. I’ve steered away from buying slim cut dresses, worried about what people would say if I wore skinny jeans, and agonized over whether every outfit I’ve worn for the last 16 years has made me look too skinny.

So to everyone who loves to play the which-celeb-has-an-eating-disorder-game? Knock it off. It’s easy to mock celebs, but then it becomes easier to start judging everyone you see. While yes, there are people who have eating disorders who do need help and support – there are plenty of people who are labeled as being sick when they aren’t. As a society, we do plenty to encourage people to be more understanding of people with curves – from those who are simply curvy to those who are heavy and obese. Maybe we should simply accept people of all shapes, regardless of what they are.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t worry about whether or not someone has an eating disorder. Eating disorders are serious things, and I’ve known plenty of girls who were affected by them (oddly enough, some who weren’t noticed by the same people accusing me of having them). But accusing strangers of having them does a lot of damage, too.

I’m skinny. I can’t help it. Deal with it, America. But don’t make me change who I am because you don’t understand me.

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  • I thought last night’s episode was dead on target. My shirt would say FAT. I still wish I was thinner, as it would be healthier, but I’m in such a better place about myself.

  • Anonymous

    I think that writing wise, it was probably the best episode of the season, and message-wise… something that just about every teenager should see. Okay, every person.

    I’m so glad you’re in a good place. Admitting that I still fill anxiety about what others think about my weight has helped me a lot. This was one of those big secrets that I’ve been carrying around for awhile.

  • Crazymamaof6

    I loved this weeks episode. I was wallowing in fat girl funk. I had thyroid cancer. I don’t have a thyroid and i’ve had 7 kids. The combo gets me down sometimes. People are nice enough but i’ve always wanted to be thinner. It’s a battle I can’t win. Sad.

    I totally needed to hear the message and accept myself. I do better than I used to but it’s hard sometimes. Sigh. Good post and thanks for a little insight into a skinny girls issues.

    People used to think I was anorexic in H.S. I totally wasn’t but my best friends were and noone suspected them. Lame.

  • Crazymamaof6

    I hopped over from blogher

  • Anonymous

    Well, welcome! Always nice to know how someone found me. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, I think this is the best episode of the season – and it certainly was the shot in the arm I felt I needed.

    And it gave me the urge to speak up for myself and maybe stop someone from heaping the same abuse I’ve felt about my weight on someone else.

    It’s weird how hard people try to find the people with eating disorders and completely miss it. My sister was a ballet dancer for years, and it was obvious with some of the girls- they’d have a cracker and 5 cigarettes daily to keep thin. But there were a lot of girls that were much more careful about it, and nobody ever figured it out.

    *hugs* from a random person.

  • Helen

    This is an interesting perspective. I don’t know why people who are not close family/friends feel like it is okay to comment on people’s weight anyway. I’ve been sick for a few years and my weight has fluctuated a lot because of it. After I lost a lot of weight very rapidly, all people were saying was how great it was, knowing that I was sick. My eyes were bloodshot, my hair was falling out, my fingernails were brittle, I had crippling abdominal pain, my limbs were shaking with tremors, I was taking medicine 16 (!) times a day, and my skin looked awful because of poor nutrition. Yet people kept telling me how much better I looked than before or commenting about how they wish they had my illness. People are more concerned with appearance than health and that is sad. And unfortunately, this treatment from people has made me even more obsessive about my weight and feel horrible about myself when I gain weight because so many people have commented on how much “better” I look when I’m sick. I think in part it is this kind of collective attitude that causes eating disorders to thrive.

  • Anonymous

    It’s baffled me why everyone feels like they should have an opinion on someone else’s, especially if they barely know the person.

    But I know just what you mean. I was actually having a hard time keeping weight on before my gluten free diet, and knew I wasn’t absorbing nutrients. I was exhausted, and my anemia was out of control. I felt horrible. Yet, I had a woman at my son’s school ask what I was doing to get so skinny, because she wanted to be on that diet. …I don’t get it either.

    I’m pretty sure that attitude feeds it. There was a girl I worked with who always used to tell me she wished she had my problems (I’d just had bronchitis and managed to lose 3 lbs) because then she’d finally get into a size 0. I asked her why wearing a size 0 was so important, because she was in amazing shape. She actually told me that it was because as a size 2, she felt fat. (Seriously though, she was in amazing shape – she worked out regularly, hiked…)