The other evening I was out with a few friends. When I stood up to leave, I couldn’t help but notice one of them tracking my body from head to toe with their eyes. Then the comment struck: “You’re so skinny!”
I nervously laughed and then awkwardly struggled to find a response, eventually just mumbling and beelining for my car. This comment has been thrown my way before, but it never gets easier to respond to.
Am I supposed to say “Thanks,” assuming it’s some type of twisted compliment? Do I say, “Oh, you are too” to deflect? Do I brush it off with an excuse, “Ah, I’ve just been so busy lately” to give some sort of justification? Am I supposed to share some insider skinny girl tips??
Since the comment came from a friend, I felt secure chatting with them privately on another day about how it made me feel uncomfortable, but when it comes from a stranger, it really perplexes me. We are taught from a young age not to tell people they look fat, so why are some people ok with telling complete strangers they are skinny?
I remember approaching a table of two women and describing the dessert offerings at a French restaurant I was working at years ago. One of them immediately interrupted me, gave a short laugh, and said, “Honey, we all know you don’t eat any dessert.”
I held back tears and brought them coffee instead.
Just because I’m naturally slim does not mean that I still don’t struggle with insecurities about my body. Being thin is not a magical fix. I often long for curves and loved being pregnant and filling out clothing in ways that I never used to.
The fact is, however, is that the best version of myself is not, and never will be measured by my size.
Let’s all agree to keep these dangerous comments at bay. You never know if a “You’re so skinny” comment is actually propelling someone even deeper in self-destructive ways. These comments can be fatal fuel for those struggling with eating disorders.
We can skip comments entirely about people’s body shapes, and whether we think they are physically different in any way since we saw them last. If you really do feel there is a concern, there are many more appropriate ways to lead this conversation.
If you just want an icebreaker, a simple: “I’m so happy to see you, How are you?” will always suffice 🙂