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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That's About The Size Of It

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photo from everydayhero.com

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.


That pretty much sums it up for me. My point of view is definitely not typical, but it is what it is. How about we all just look at each other as human beings? Even better, as children of God?

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.


~j. said...

Word, Gerb.


Kimm said...

From one weight struggler to another!! Labels suck, and so do stereotypes! Loved that post!

Just SO said...

Thanks for this. I needed to hear it. Good luck with the running!

Gina said...

You mean eating carrots and hummus won't do it? I have to workout too? Rats. Thanks for sharing. You are adorable.

Camille said...

I really appreciate this perspective you wrote about. It's always easiest to think that the grass is greener on the "other side."

Richard & Natalie said...

It is nice to hear the other side of things, so I'm glad you went the road less traveled today. It is a perspective not often heard that needs to be.
PS- I love that even when you are ranting you are still so polite. Your a better woman than me.

Richard & Natalie said...

BTW- I meant You're. Darn apostrophe & e.

And I would run with you any day.

dalene said...

Hey Gerb, love your post. I also love how we essentially made the same point (but from difference sides of "the fence"): Unless you've walked (or run or shuffled) a mile in someone else's shoes you really have no idea, so yeah, don't judge.

Right on. You can come work out with me any time.

Amber said...

I would exercise with you but you'd probably get tired of waiting for me to catch up, I'm guessing your walk/jog is still much faster than mine. :)Thanks for writing about this!

Rachel said...

Boy have you hit a sore spot. I get it! I truly do. As you know, I am a small person as well although I do have to work at it. I get so sick and tired of people making comments about my size and saying I have no idea what they are talking about. How I can eat anything I want and they don't sympathize with me at all. Well, guess what? I have to literally work my butt off to maintain my weight.....but I'm small and thin.....so it doesn't count.

Totally understand the clothes dilemma. It truly is a problem. So funny. I was just talking last night to some ladies about darts in shirts with nothing in them. :D Doesn't work.

Now that I'm not able to exercise, the weight is piling on and people are so kind. "Well it is about time, now you know how the rest of us feel." Or "I don't feel sorry for you one bit."

Yes, your post rings loud and clear with me. And ummm, sorry I vented too.

Gerb said...

~j- You're awesome.

Kimm- Amen, sister!

SO- Thanks! I'm doing great so far. And thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

Gina- Hummus is good, though. You should still eat it.

Camille- Thanks. I have been nervous about coming across as a big whiner so I appreciate your comment.

Natalie- Was I polite? That's a relief. Once I get a more regular running schedule down, I'll let you know what it is and maybe you'll be able to join me sometimes. =0)

dalene- I read over your post again, and you're right. ;) I never left the comment because I didn't want to look like some sort of lunatic. You're great.

Amber- If you can make it more than 1/2 mile without stopping, you're ahead of me. Thanks for reading!

Rachel- I have a couple of friends who are the exact same way as you. It is frustrating when people assume things, isn't it? Or when they say things like, "Now you know how the rest of us feel." Really? Does it feel good? because, if not, why would you WANT someone else to feel that way? Anyway, I'll stop before I really get to ranting. And BTW, you're welcome to vent anytime.

Lori said...

TELL IT, GERB!! (And with such dignity, too...) I feel ya. I'm tired of the comments, too. I'm small, but I have to exercise because being small does not preclude health problems and risks--like the high cholesterol that I can't seem to get rid of, or the asthma that I can't seem to grow out of. Exercise is beneficial for all body types, and we shouldn't make snap judgments. Love your post.

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