I began taking an interest in my health in my second year of university. I started working at Goodlife fitness, I began working out regularly, and my diet drastically changed. I was becoming more and more interested in nutrition – so much so that I switched my major during my last year at UoGuelph in order to absorb all the nutrition knowledge I could. I began noticing more muscular definition, but more importantly I began to feel stronger. I felt I could do things girls my size weren’t supposed to be able to do and I genuinely loved my body. When I started at CCNM my fitness routine went out the window. I had a difficult time finding a balance between school life and my personal well-being and working out quickly fell to the side. It took me until half way through my second year before I noticed how much weight I had lost (the backwards idea to what people usually experience when they stop working out). My muscle was gone, and I was back down to a size that I had never been happy at. Stress decreased my appetite and my lack of energy left me with little motivation to actually do anything about it. When I began commuting to school in September of last year I lost even more time out of my day leaving me feeling even more defeated about getting my lifestyle back on track.
That’s just a little background info in my life. This post has been fueled by an experience I had this past weekend in Toronto, and something I have always felt I wanted to write about eventually. Something that I think the general public doesn’t understand is that there are two sides to the coin known as body image. We are a society obsessed with body image. A negativity surrounds the aspect of being “overweight” and speaking to someone about their heavy bodies or calling them derogatory names geared towards their weight is taboo. Flip the coin – how do we as a society treat skinny people? Usually by putting them on a pedestal, obsessing over their thin build and constantly striving to be as thin as our frame will allow because that is what society has deemed acceptable in this generation.
I have always been a slender girl with a thin build, even when I was putting on muscle. I have spent the majority of my adult life being told how skinny I am, given nicknames pertaining to my thin body or being asked if I even eat. Over the years I have learned to smile or giggle when people bring up my weight, knowing that in their minds they are probably giving me a compliment. However, what people don’t understand is that no matter what size you are, comments about your body are still comments about your body. I have never taken pride in my size – it has been something I unknowingly have struggled with my entire life. I don’t mean to be this thin, I just am, and it is a daily struggle to accept that this is my body type. Just as being called “fat” to your face is hurtful, being called “skinny” is aswell. Just as having a larger body size makes shopping a difficult experience, so does having a thinner body size. Commenting on someones large portion is just as hurtful as commenting on someones small portion. Just because society says “thin is in” doesn’t make a slender person happy with their body type.
These are things that people forget – comments about an individuals body, no matter what size, can be hurtful. It’s important to remember that you are unaware of someones relationship with themselves. When a stranger in the mall grabbed me around the waist exclaiming that I was “soo skinny” I couldn’t help but get a little angry. Partially because strangers grabbing you is just wrong in general, but also because she made a point to go out of her way and comment on my body – something I’m sure she wouldn’t have done if I was a larger woman exiting from the dressing room. I smiled at her because I know that she meant no harm. To her she was just giving me a compliment. But what she didn’t know is that she put her comment on top of a pile that has been growing for 24 years and is starting to tip over. It’s no longer easy to just brush it off and each time it becomes harder to not take it personally. It wasn’t her fault, and I am no longer angry with her. In fact, I am grateful. Grateful that she brought to light this struggle and given me the motivation to say something about it.
No matter what size you are, it takes a lot of personal strength to accept and love your body. As I become more aware of my personal image issues I know I am growing towards a healthier relationship with myself. Its a little stab each time someone comments on my size, however, it’s time to not become attached to peoples comments as they do not define me as a person. I am healthy, and I am strong and I was given this body to carry me through this lifetime. It’s time to start changing society’s outlook on body imagine. Don’t “diet” to be thin, eat healthy to fuel your body to be its optimal self. Don’t work out to lose weight, work out to build strength. Don’t pass judgements on others, or on yourself – accept your health journey as well as respect others. Most importantly, Love yourself – no matter what size you are.
In love & health,