Stop the skinny bashing

  • This was printed in March of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 43rd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

If you really want to irritate me, ask me this: “You’re already skinny, why do you still

run?”

1. I’m not skinny, I’m strong.

2. I didn’t start running to “get skinny,” so just because I’m at a healthy, happy weight,

it’s no reason for me to stop doing what I love.

When one hears, “I was bullied about my weight,” one automatically may assume the

person making that statement is obese. I’d like to point out that thin people are victims of

weight bullying too. Calling someone too skinny is the same as calling someone too fat.

I’ve heard, “That woman needs to go on a diet” as much as I’ve heard, “Feed that woman

a cheeseburger! Women are supposed to have meat on their bones.”

I encourage healthy and active lifestyles by leading one and writing about it — but I

don’t think every woman should be a size two. I would never bully a woman into

thinking she’s too fat or too thin and needs to change to fit someone’s idea of the ideal

female body.

If I suggest changes in diet (yes, I am forever telling my coworkers to drop that soda and

drink water!) or encourage someone to exercise, it’s not because I think they need to look

a certain way — I’m concerned about others’ health and wellbeing.

Bullying stems from one’s own insecurities.

When thinner people talk about heavier people it might be because they’re jealous of

their voluptuousness or something else — the career, the significant other, the happiness

— that specific person has that the thinner person thinks they’re “too fat” to have.

Likewise, when heavier people call thinner people “too skinny,” “skeleton” or myriad

other insults, it’s often because they are insecure about their own weight, or think they’d

have the job, clothes or some other coveted thing if they were able to drop a few sizes.

As much as fat bullying needs to stop, skinny bashing needs to end, too.

Some people can’t gain weight, no matter how hard they try. Some people have wicked

fast metabolisms. Some people, like me, have (literally) worked their butts off to

accomplish a goal.

I didn’t start running marathons to become a “skinny chick.” I started running marathons

to prove that I could. I started running marathons because after some terrorists bombed

the Boston Marathon I wanted to qualify for the prestigious race to show that runners

don’t back down — we’re a tough breed to intimidate. I ran 42 miles last week because

I’m training hard to meet that goal.

I don’t get out of bed at 4:25 a.m. four days out of every week thinking “if I don’t meet

my running group at 5 a.m. I won’t get skinny.” I don’t push myself to run faster and

faster half-mile intervals each week thinking, “this is going to make me skinnier.” And I

sure as heck don’t run at an 8-minute-per-mile pace for 20 miles with any kind of “I’m

doing this to be skinny” thought in my head.

If being thin was my motivation for running I’d get a lot more sleep, I’d have a lot fewer

blisters and sore muscles, and I’d probably still have all of my toenails.

I run because I love it. I run to be a healthy example for my children. I run to be my best

self. I run because I am a runner — it’s that simple.

Can we all just accept that women come in different shapes and sizes? And can we also

accept that women can change their shapes and sizes through healthy eating and active

lifestyles, if they so choose?

How about we all just stop telling women what they “should” look like and encourage

them to look however they feel happiest?

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