I don't know if I could tell you exactly how, but I knew from a very young age that skinny people were valued far above heavy people. Even as a little kid, it was shoved down my throat constantly. I remember women I barely knew or had just met always calling me a "skinny mini" or poking me in the ribs and asking if I ever ate anything. As a seven year old, I found this a little bit absurd. I wasn't skinny because I frequently read Cosmo's top 10 dieting secrets and ran 4 miles every morning before Kindergarten. I was skinny because I was a ridiculously picky eater who would rather be playing than eating. Still, I learned that being skinny was important, it gave me value, and I was important because I was unintentionally not a heavy kid.
Flash forward a few years to when I got my tonsils out. I had spent most of my life from first grade on getting strep throat at least once a month. It finally all blew up my Senior year when I got mono, and I FINALLY got them out. Although I have been a completely different, actually healthy, person since that surgery, and even though I know this makes me sound like a huge baby, it was a really difficult surgery. I couldn't go back to work for two weeks, taking a shower used up all my energy for the day, and I lost twenty pounds in two weeks just from not eating.
I was miserable. I was withering away. I was drooling over the "Fancy Feast" commercials, and yes, I was fully aware that it's cat food. So I was surprised when the reaction from my friends the first time they saw me was sheer delight.
"Look how skinny you are!" "I can really see it in your face! It just makes you look prettier!" "That's awesome that you lost the weight so fast!" Were they kidding? Could they really not see how starving I was, or what a miserable way that was to lose weight? I remember one friend even telling me, "Just keep not eating, even after you feel better. Otherwise you're going to gain it back."
I found it insane at the time, but now, looking back, I just feel sad. I feel sad that as soon as I inevitably gained the weight back, everyone stopped complimenting me. When my jeans actually fit me, they didn't think they were so cute anymore. I feel sad that these little teenage girls were all under the complete delusion that because I lost weight, I became more of a person. I had worth. And they envied me for it.
I don't think it's any one specific person who does this to us. It's society as a whole. Whether we intend to or not, we grill it into everyone's minds that your weight determines your worth. And it's golf scores here: the lower you are, the better.
A girl I grew up with recently lost a lot of weight. She has always been a cute girl, but lately I've noticed the compliments really flying in. I'm happy for her that she's healthy and worked hard to get where she is. But I'm sad for her, because she has become her weight loss. She can talk of nothing else but how much time she spent at the gym, how much weight she can lift, what she ate that day and what she avoided, even when she really wanted that candy bar. She has been fed the lie that her weight determines her worth, and now that she's skinny, it's all she can think about. She has lost everything else that makes her her- her sense of humor, her hobbies outside of the gym, even close friendships, because this has become the most important, all-consuming thing in her life. And it's just sad.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all abdicating obesity for the sake of personality or humor. I just think someone's weight is only one small detail about them, like their eye color or shoe size. What a shame it would be to give up so many of the things that are wonderful about you to just wear shoes two sizes smaller.
The problem isn't the weight loss itself. Ideally, we should all be at a healthy weight. The problem is that it will never be enough. You will never lose enough weight to truly be happy. Even if you do, you will find something else about yourself to obsess and stress over.
I was a nanny for this little girl once right after I graduated High School. She was only five, and such a little diva. I remember one day I made her a bowl of Easy Mac with hot dogs cut up in it. Every kids favorite lunch. She took one look at it, wrinkled her nose, and said, "I can't eat this. This will make me fat." She was five.
I know I'm not the first one to notice. I know we've all heard a thousand times how being skinny isn't important, how the size 00 models aren't the ones to look up to, how we shouldn't care so much about our weight and worry more about our health. But I think that we need a change. We can't keep telling little girls how skinny they are, and how great that is. We can't keep undervaluing people because they weigh more than we do. Most importantly, we can't keep undervaluing ourselves. I heard a quote one time that has really stuck with me. It says, "Do all you can when you wake up in the morning to make yourself presentable. But the second you walk out the door, start thinking of others." We can obsess all we want about our weight and our looks, but we'll probably never live up to our own high expectations. So how about, instead, we tell ourselves how great we are, then forget it the rest of the day and focus on someone else. Be jealous of someone else's personality, not the way their jeans fit. Maybe if we love ourselves first, we'll stop drilling it into our children that they need to grow up, stop eating cookies for every meal (guilty!) and fit societies expectations of beauty.


  1. This is so on the mark! I suffer from high cholesterol and I have to be pretty careful what I eat if I don't want to be on medication. Three years ago I decided that I better do something to fix my eating habits before things got out of control, I had not been very careful in my food choices and my forties were catching up to me, so the whole family had a 'Biggest Loser' competition. I totally changed my eating habits and after five months I had lost 23 pounds! I felt really good about all the hard work but it was interesting how everyone else obsessed over the weight loss. I had gals a the grocery store ask me how lost weight and my family couldn't go a day without commenting that I was making myself sick and I better be careful not to become anorexic. I don't know why our worth is tied up in our weight and I am not sure why everyone feels free to comment on it all of the time. I know that I felt as a younger gal that I better stay skinny so my husband wouldn't leave me...my Dad was known to comment on my Mom's weight alot and that sticks with a girl. Satan wants us to forget about our Divine Nature and our Individual Worth, and buy into the worlds view of beauty. Thanks for such an insightful post.:)