Skinny Aint All It's Cracked Up to Be
"Kaya, I hate you, you can buy anything you want! Everything fits you because you are so skinny!" said my sister.
"What is she talking about?" I thought.
My sister and I have always been mistaken for twins. For most people, the only distinguishing factor is I am "the skinny one", and she is "the fat one". We have always joked about modeling as the "before" and "after" shots for one of those lose-weight-by-doing-nothing ads. Being the skinny sister, I have had front row seats to the torture inflicted upon the fat one. My sister has been the victim of all kinds of ridiculous comments. Our aunts have commented "She's bigger than me!" when she was only about 12. People have tried to comfort her by using the code phrase for fat, that is, "She's just big boned." Our younger cousins have made comments about what foods she should "lay off." Boys told her as a very young teenager that her weight was a result of being sexually active, because "No virgin is built like that".
Being subjected to all these nasty comments, it is only natural to assume being skinny is something to strive for. Hence the reason my sister has been through every diet known to man, gaining and losing weight like nobody's business. But, as the skinny sister, I have had to endure my own body image battles: the hidden horror of skinniness.
My sister always had this crazy idea that skinny people
can fit anything. Just close your eyes and pick anything off the rack
and automatically look like something out of a magazine. But what she
and other fat women don't realize is that the skinny woman representatives,
ie supermodels, have their clothing specially made, tailored to their
bones and non-existent curves. The average skinny girl buys something
off the rack, and if there is no lycra in it, is immediately transformed
into something closely resembling a scarecrow. I don't consider this
an attractive look. As a skinny woman, I rarely buy anything that does
not contain lycra or spandex. Fat women may think this is because I
want to show off my body. The reality is I am trying to avoid looking
like a "bag of bones" as I like to call it; which translates to a skeleton
draped in fabric. Fat women are starving themselves and I am asking
myself why?? I am admiring those curves, the way you fill out those
clothes, the way you command the space you occupy.
As a skinny girl, I have also been subjected to negative comments about my weight. A boy in school used to scream "Hey skinny legs!" after me in the hallway. For some reason I didn't take that as a compliment. My boyfreinds would lust after my sister because of the very thing she hated: she was "thick", which to my boyfreinds meant more developed than me. People have tried to force food on me as if I was a starving child, comparing me to my sister, who looked so much "healthier". Where fat is considered bad as an adult, it is sometimes thought of as healthy for an adolescent. I am constantly the butt of snide remarks like "Oh my God , she's eating!". Nevermind the fact that in the black community, being skinny has only recently gained acceptance. I imagine this is a throwback from West African sensibilities. In Ghana for example, fat people are held in high esteem, fat men sometimes being reffered to as Nana, which means King. This is because in a place where poverty is rampant, if you are fat, you must have plenty of food, which equals having a lot of money. This is a stark contrast to America, the land of excess, where eating a lot of food is considered gluttony. The huge excess of food we have in this country facilitates our obsession with losing weight. For those who do not have that luxury, losing weight is a horrible reality, not something to look forward to.
As different cultures have started to meld more and more in this country, this idea of thickness being a good thing is quickly fading in the black community. However, at that all important adolescent time in my life, I was made to feel less attractive because I didn't have any curves. After gaining a few pounds several years ago, I as called voluptuous for the first time in my life. Imagine my surprise after being called skinny legs for all those years. Now that I have lost weight again, I find myself embarrassed, not wanting anyone to look at my emaciated body, much less see me naked. I imagine this is similar to what a fat woman goes through after losing weight and gaining it back.
I can't buy whatever I want in the store, I don't wear tight clothes because I think I'm sexy. I don't look at fat women with disgust, nor do I think I am better because I am skinny. I do eat. No matter whether fat or skinny, we are all subjected to unrealistic images of the perfect body, and potential victims of negative body image. No matter what the size, the pertinent factor is the circumstances. Sometimes more than anything it is a matter of what is in fashion, the culture, country, or age. All in all, let the truth be told: skinny aint all it's cracked up to be.