photography by Zezette Lindqvist
Sunday, 14 July 2013
Enough. Enough of this. There can (and will) be more, and I have no doubt that what has been is not even a fraction of what others have had. I am sure that I will never have it as bad as many others do. Some might consider this a minuscule thing, but please, enough.
The fact that I’m writing a blog about the struggles of being thin might seem laughable, especially in the weight-obsessed culture of the first-world West. Nonetheless, it is this very culture that makes these issues the hardest to fight. That is feeling completely isolated as a skinny, lanky, thin, tiny, slight, slender, lithe, emaciated, disgusting, gaunt, pallid, drawn, malnourished-looking person (quite the spectrum isn’t it? And I’ve been called them all). I’m not writing this as a means of appealing to the public to leave skinny people alone, but trying to let people know that there is often a lot more to the story than you think.
I for one am actually pretty upbeat, positive, and kind. I get along well with others, and aside from the odd sass comment, am very approachable and mentally stable. In terms of my constitution, my most recent check-up revealed that I don’t have diabetes, the check-up before that revealed no issues with my thyroid, blood sugar, viruses or infections. The one before that no cancer, no lung difficulties, hormones are balanced, blood pressure is fine and I even have actual 20-20 vision. Long story short, there is nothing wrong with me. I don’t take drugs, or drink much alcohol. I don’t smoke cigarettes, and no-for the hundredth time- I do not have an eating disorder. The only reason I ever skipped a meal was from being too busy due to a hectic city lifestyle.
To be fair, I could be doing more. I don’t exercise aside from walking a lot between meetings, and I drink a fair bit of caffeine with a large amount of sugar. I do not drink protein shakes, and due to a busy schedule, oftentimes have only a small, speedy breakfast.
I am-according to my doctor-‘one of those people that other people hate’, and yes he’s right. I get told on an almost daily basis that people hate me because of my body, and I can tell you that no matter how good friends we are, I don’t really like to be told that you hate me because of how I’m made. I don’t think anyone likes hearing that.
So here’s a bit of information for those who look at me, and people like me and ‘wish they had what I have’.
In a few years what I could have is arthritis, osteoporosis or decalcification of my bones leading to spinal collapse unless I find a way to retain muscle and fat in my back. As I age, I could be at risk of tuberculosis or liver disease. I am prone to pneumonia, emphysema, chill blains and infections due to having very little “functional overlay” with which to fight the cold. I also have to watch what I eat because I’m at risk of hypoglycaemia or high cholesterol because I don’t have any physical repercussions for eating junk.
These things are the realities of this body type, the same way one would have serious health concerns if they were overweight. But I think could handle a lot of these health-related issues if they weren’t completely overwrought with the stigma of the way I look.
It can be a very difficult paradigm to live in where in one day you can be told anything from “Lose Weight Fast”, “Summer Body in Five Steps”, “Latest Tips from the Naked Trainer” and “Look Good in Briefs”, “Washboard Abs in a Week” or “How to Meet the Man of Your Dreams”. Every one of these articles, magazines, television shows, advertisements are all accompanied by the image of a man stereotypically exiting a body of water wearing precious little or outdoors somewhere doing something “manly” that most of us haven’t the time, money or photography skills to do.
An hour of the rubbish we call reality television: poor souls trying to overcome weight problems many of them were genetically predisposed to have being forced to fight years of habit and learned behaviour to drop dozens of kilos in a matter of weeks. I can tell you that in my opinion The Biggest Loser is me because at the end of the day there is no place for my weight battle on television.
The media spends a vast amount of time and space telling girls to get thin and men to get ripped, and they do! In their millions! Gyms are now open 24 hours a day and you don’t have to be of legal age to be a member. The internet has even more to offer to impressionable teenagers struggling with notions of identity and self-worth; not to mention young adults coming to believe that they will never be on the cover of a fashion magazine or be paid thousands to wear designer jeans in front of a camera.
There needs to be more awareness of the efforts of those considered “too-thin” to maintain healthy weight whilst society tells them “Thin is Beautiful”. It’s likely prior to reading this the only stories you’d heard about people trying to put ON weight were stories of anorexia nervosa patients. Not even here can we see some encouragement for their struggle: stories mostly pitying girls and boys who are too sick to stand up for themselves against a barrage of propaganda telling them to ‘be happy as they are’ but excluding them from the category of ‘beautiful’.
I imagine being stereotyped for having anorexia is as hard a thing to face for someone who has it as someone who doesn’t. For the record, I don’t. Nor do I have bulimia, something I’ve also been accused of, pitied for, and sent to counselling over. Nor do I go on mass drug binges to maintain my small frame, probably one of the worst things to be accused of in public, especially in the workplace.
What I fear most by writing this is that people visit this blog for “thin-spiration”: a shocking phenomenon where people model how thin they are to inspire unhealthy behaviour amongst those struggling with their own self-esteem problems. I’m all about empowerment and feeling attractive no matter what you’re born with, but sacrificing your health-physical or mental- to reach a goal is not okay.
Now what I’m about to say may shock, but I like my body in spite of how unhealthy a body it is to have. The fight for self-esteem is one I am determined to win. That is essentially what this is all about.
have no desire to represent an agenda of putting all the practicalities of life aside in order to attain a certain appearance. I genuinely believe that being a good person is a far better expense of one’s effort. That said, I’ve now been given the ultimatum that I am five kilos away from being classified grossly-underweight, that I need to work to eat more, reduce my stress levels and put on at least another five kilos to sit within my suitable BMI and have the muscle structure to secure my health. I'm trying to reach out to people and say that there is nothing to be ashamed of about your body if it doesn't meet the standardised Adonis version of masculinity. And if we're healthy and happy then there is no need for even the Adonis' to be ashamed either.
Enough of being taunted, accused, judged and scorned because we are who we are, and look the way we do. Enough of being envied, or made to feel we should just live with things as they are or harassed for being too feeble and not meeting society’s standard of what makes a man (and what makes a man look attractive). So I’m doing what I can to reinforce the message of accepting ourselves before we change ourselves in the hope that other people can find out that they’re not alone in the difficulty of trying to feel good about themselves too, no matter what we look like.