Writing by Kim Koelmeyer // Photograph by Milly Cope
I am what people would call skinny, a twig, tiny, waify, a skeleton. A combination of genes, a fast metabolism, and slow eating habits have culminated in my having a naturally skinny body. No matter how much I eat, or how much bad food I eat, my weight never seems to change (bar of course growth from puberty). This may seem like an ideal situation to some—maybe even a dream come true. But my whole life it’s been a point of shame for me, which took a long time for me to reconcile.
I’ve had this shame of my body for as long as I can remember. Every time I would wear tight clothes or remove clothes to reveal the size of my body, I braced myself for the same reactions. “Oh my gosh you’re so skinny!” “You should eat more!” “Jesus Kim you’re tiny.” I would always play it off and pretend to be unaffected, but it made me really apprehensive to show the actual size of my body very often.
In particular, the comments about me not eating enough really got to me. It made me think that my skinniness was my fault; a fault of character. It made me want nothing more than to put some meat on my bones, to be normal—so much so that when we wrote down our goals in primary school, I always wrote to gain weight.
People would condemn and scold my weight, so I strove to “fix” it. My childhood consisted of a lot of time spent on scales, hopping on and hoping that this time, it would tip over to the next kilo. I filled my body with junk in the hope that it would translate into fat. I would gawk at my ribs that protruded out of my chest. I’d raise my arms and think how disgustingly thin they were when they were in the air. Everyone else’s opinion became my own—I hated just how skinny I was.
I know to some this may sound rich—a skinny girl is complaining about being skinny, oh boohoo. It’s undeniable that skinny has been the “idealized” body type in recent years, so in some ways, it may seem like complaining about a problem that many people would like to have. And yes, it’s not the biggest problem in the world. But just like mocking fatness is hurtful and harmful, skinny-shaming can be damaging for those who are just naturally skinny—and it’s not a viable solution for reversing fat-shaming. The reality is, true body positivity cannot exist at the expense of any faction of body types.
Striving for the “ideal” of skinny through destructive, unhealthy ways should be discouraged and people should be encouraged to embrace the body they have while living the healthiest lifestyle possible. Comments like “boys like a little more booty to hold at night” or “fuck those skinny bitches” may have the intentions of preventing less-skinny folks from feeling ashamed of their bodies, but in turn, they tell skinny people that they do have something to be ashamed of. It leaves those who are stick thin struggling to love their bodies—and thus the cycle of body-hate and body-shaming continues. In the quest for body positivity, we need to include all body types in the conversation. In the end, we’re all just trying to find confidence in ourselves.
It took me a long time to finally accept my body for what it is. I eventually realised that I ate more or less the same amount and same quality food as the people around me, and my weight wasn’t changing—so this is how my body is meant to look. It doesn’t need changing or improvement. I am what I am. I now love my knobbly knees and tiny wrists, and I haven’t touched a scale in years.[share]