Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thinness vs. fitness, skinny vs. beauty

I have been a busy little bee this week. So busy in fact that I haven't had much time to get online!

Did you miss me?

Don't be bashful. I know you did.

I've gotten a couple of comments lately on... well... on my weight/thinness basically.

I have said before that I am in the process of learning to love my body and I have found that I'm actually not too bad at it! I regularly look in the mirror and like what I see now! I see a strong, fit person. I don't look for little flaws to critique. I look for things to enjoy about myself. Even on weeks I slip a little with my training (ahem... this week), I can look in the mirror and like what I see. That's huge for me.

However, I can still be thrown off by attention paid to my looks by others. Two weeks ago, a couple of my co-workers (young women that are younger than me) commented that I was so skinny and another co-worker (and older gentleman) commented that I eat all the time but still only weigh 110 pounds but if he looks at a snack, he gains weight.

Regarding the comments by the young women - At the time I was flattered but almost embarrassed. Later, I took a minute to really analyze my feelings. I was secretly pleased. Why? I don't really know. Because someone noticed I was thin? Maybe. Probably, But why should that make me feel good? Being thin isn't an accomplishment in and of itself. What can one say of being thin? There are plenty of ways to get thin that have nothing to do with health and wellness. Being athletic and fit, those are accomplishments. I would rather be known for being an athlete, for being strong, for being fit. The sad fact of the matter is that society is so focused on super skinny beauty ideals that I am far more likely to get a comment on my size than my fitness level. I'd say in a compliment contest, a comment of "You look so great!" should beat out "You look so skinny!"

I've also come to realize that I work in a department full of women who are focused more on being "on a diet" and "getting skinny" than their health or wellness. That makes me sad.

Regarding the comment by the gentleman - This one kind of threw me for a loop. (Not the eating a lot part because I do eat a lot, not necessarily quantity-wise but frequently.) This gentleman underestimated my weight drastically. He was probably just trying to be kind. But my first instinct was to laughed, correct him and tell him how far off the mark he was with my weight. (I didn't but that was my first urge. Okay, so I did laugh but I didn't comment on my weight.) Thinking about that later made me realize just how much people identify themselves by their weight. I made sure to take a minute to tell myself that my weight is just a number, it's not an important number, it doesn't mean anything, it's just a scientific measurement of mass. And it certainly is not a measure of my worth or my value.

Still, this was yet another time I was secretly pleased. Again, why? He commented on my weight. I am working to make my weight not matter to me, to make it just another number. So why should it matter to him? And why should I care if it does? It's not like he complimented me on my beauty, inside or out. Weight and beauty are not equated. They are not even linked. I would rather be a beautiful person than 110 pounds. I would rather be told I look beautiful than thin.

(I also found it odd that even he, an older man, was comparing himself body-size and shape-wise with another person. It's not just women that do this!)

In the past would I have chosen to be told that I look great or that I look beautiful over being told I looked skinny or like I weighed 110 pounds? Maybe not. In the past I would have eaten up those compliments but that's not what it's about anymore.

Do I like being thin? I would be lying if I said I didn't. But it's not my focus anymore and I am glad for that.

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