I finally went running again (and I use that term loosely), just a couple of days ago at the indoor track of our local university. As was expected, I was feeling a bit rusty from nearly 3 months of inactivity. However, I was able to shuffle along for two full laps before I had to slow down, breathless, to a walk.
I continued this way with a walk/jog pattern for quite awhile before a lady commented to me in passing, "I can't believe I keep lapping you - you're so thin!"
Oh, yes, the common misconception. The fallacy I've dealt with my entire life: Skinny people are athletic, in great shape and SO lucky.
I am the polar opposite of overweight people. I can not gain weight; I have tried throughout my life. At the age of 14 (and on doctor's orders) I drank malteds every day for weeks and did not gain a pound. As a high school senior trying to gain weight so I could fit into a homecoming dress without shopping in the little girl's section or stuffing my bra (sorry... TMI?) I ate a dozen donuts a day for 3 days and then gave up when I lost 2 pounds. I guess what I am trying to say in some roundabout way is that people shouldn't have a bias against ANY kind of people and I totally feel a connection with others I know who are struggling with weight issues.
This brief interaction with some lady I didn't know reminded me of a blog post I read awhile ago where a friend talks about how difficult it was for her to start going to a gym because she's overweight. One of the comments she received said something about "stupid skinny people" at gyms and it really, really bothered me. It even bothered me that it bothered me, but you know what? I don't like labels. Or ignorance. It got to a point where I finally composed a response to her comment and posted it on my private blog just to make myself feel better.
Well, one of my goals for this year is to put myself out there some, to not hide behind the sunshine and roses that I usually write about. So... (*deep breath*) you want to read it? I'll admit that I did edit some of it out but the heart of it is still there.
Dear Commenter A.R.,
First off, you’re awesome for making time to get to the gym. I can never seem to prioritize well enough to get around to it. I am so out-of-shape it’s not even funny. I need to get serious about my health.
On to my purpose here. It made me a little sad, a little frustrated, a little ticked off when I read your comment which repeatedly referred to thin people who exercise as 'stupid skinny people'.
So, here it goes: We’re not all stupid. Even us skinny people have issues. I am probably more out of shape than most of the people you see in a day and I have struggled my entire life with being UNDER weight. (I know, poor me, being too skinny. I get that all the time, it’s why I don’t usually say anything.)
I am a stick of a person and I can’t help but wonder how nice it would be to find a top that fits – even sort of – in the WOMEN’S section. I am darn near close to 40 years old and I have never been able to shop in the Women’s clothing section. Does that make me less of a woman? Size-wise, I guess you could say YES. I don’t like shopping in the junior’s section because I look like one of those ladies who is still living in the past and can’t accept that she’s an adult now and needs to dress like one. I choose to not wear shorts or capri pants because I can’t stand all of the comments I get on my “chicken legs”. And that is just scratching the surface in the clothing department.
Any time I bring up the fact that I need to start exercising I get a few eye rolls along with comments about how I just need to eat more. No one wants to exercise with me because I’m skinny. How do you think that feels? I could go on and on, but I won’t.
You hate being overweight? Being stick skinny isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. We all have our issues. Let’s just treat each other as equals and look beyond size. Please?
I'll tell you what... if you don’t call me stupid, I won’t call you ignorant.
Okay, I'm done. Thanks for tolerating my little rant.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get my running shoes on.