Today Bry from WholesomelyFit is here today talking about a very serious topic…. skinny shaming. Bry and I have been friends for many years. We met through our websites and then had the opportunity to run together in 2013 for an ultra relay in Utah. I am honored to have her here today talking about something that has deep meaning to her, and so many people. I am of the personal belief that no one should be shamed for their size, whether you are small or large, hurtful words leave a deep scar. Please join me in welcoming Bry.
I think we have all been judged in some way, shape or form, and I will be the first to say I have judged others as well. Sometimes it hurts. My whole pregnancy I was the product of stares, glares, comments and judgments. I occasionally received compliments, which were a breathe of fresh air.
I thought once baby was delivered, I wouldn’t have to listen to the rude comments any more, but little did I know they would only get worse. Let me start by creating a background to my story.
Yes, it’s true I have struggled with my weight. My weight struggle may be on the opposite spectrum compared to others, in that instead of needing to loose weight, I have struggled to keep weight on. I have always been skinny. The skinny girl who was constantly trying to put on weight, in much the same way high school football players do. I couldn’t wear jeans until I was in the 6th grade, which were hard to find. I had long legs with no waist and butt..
All through high school, I was accused of having an eating disorder. I didn’t dare go to the bathroom after lunch, for fear someone would think I was actually binging and purging, and I would always round up when asked how much I weighed. I have never had an eating disorder, maybe more of a health obsessed one, but never anorexia or bulimia. I love food, and from the time I was an infant, I was tiny. Off the charts tiny. No matter how much I ate and ate and ate, I was skinny. In the eyes of many, too skinny. I was my mother’s mini me.
Fast forward to last 2014 and now the “skinny girl” is pregnant. It wasn’t until I was well into my third trimester anyone even commented on my pregnancy, unless I mentioned I was pregnant. I carried small. I was the cliche “All Baby” and subsequently the product of comments and stares.
Now not only was I supposedly a product of an eating disorder and too skinny, I was also a terrible mom putting her child at risk (according to others who didn’t know me). Add the fact I was a running pregnant woman, and I was a walking target.
Running a 1/2 at 35 weeks
I never shared how much I gained in pregnancy, and unless asked I never will. Too me it didn’t matter, as long as my baby was healthy, strong, and weighing in where she needed to be I wasn’t to concerned about my weight. Due to my active lifestyle and my appearance at many races while pregnant, I was ridiculed, judged and slandered, mostly by women.
The women I encountered called me stupid, accused me of having an eating disorder, shunned me for running while pregnant, said my baby was going to be so tiny and unhealthy, accused me of putting my baby’s life at risk, of being selfish, unhealthy, and the list goes on.
One comment that stuck with me was “the race schedule you are so proud of could be having long term effects on your unborn child……stop trying to prove you can do it all.” Upon hearing this I was offended and hurt, and I grew defensive
Waiting for baby girl at 36 weeks
We put so much pressure on women to be skinny, but yet when women are skinny they are too skinny. We can never be perfect, not in the eyes of our culture. We don’t stop to consider that maybe individuals have other health issues unrelated to eating disorders. Maybe they have celiac disease, Crohns, Lymes disease or cancer. Maybe they are struggling to keep weight on.
I hated having to defend myself constantly. Always reassuring people “my doctor said I am fine to run” or “baby girl is actually in the 40th percentile for weight and active.” I hated hearing people whisper. My baby was a week early and weighed 6’lbs 13’ounces at birth.
Then I thought, where’s the line between judging and concern. Maybe people were truly concerned for me. They didn’t know my baby was actually super healthy. If I thought someone was harming themselves or their baby I would want to say something too. I would want to help, so maybe they thought they were helping? I couldn’t help but notice that if I was normal weight or even overweight and running while pregnant, I probably wouldn’t have had as any stares and comments. Maybe women wouldn’t have felt the need to say something dirty to me or use snide remarks. Haven’t I made silent judgment’s toward others anyways?
Baby R, 3 Months
Once baby girl was born, comments only continued. Every where I went someone had to comment on how healthy she looked and how surprising it was. I would reply “Why is that surprising?” The reply “Well you’re just so tiny you wouldn’t think your baby would look so healthy and be so big.” Wait was that supposed to be a compliment?!
I was a nervous wreck before doctor appointments for my child, because I was scared she wouldn’t be gaining enough. Even her doctor couldn’t believe I was able to breast feed her. I lost more weight than I gained while pregnant the first 2 weeks after her birth, which resulted in “well she certainly doesn’t take after your genes.” Again was that supposed to be a compliment? Slowly I reached my pre-pregnancy weight again, only to find it didn’t matter people still make comments.
I know there are women and men with eating disorders and it’s serious, but before we judge others or make assumptions we should take a step back. We should ask ourselves “Are we trying to help this person or only trying to make ourselves feel better? Are we actually causing more harm than good?” There’s more to the story than we may know. Judging outside appearances never gives us the full story.
My little chunk!!
I was healthy during pregnancy. Never anemic, never low or high blood pressure, and no deficiencies. I was just skinny. Remember skinny doesn’t mean healthy or unhealthy. Normal weight doesn’t mean healthy or unhealthy. I began to doubt my ability as a good mother, because of others comments and expressions. I began to second guess my eating habits. The first two weeks after giving birth I ate high fat foods, like bagels with cream cheese, fresh cinnamon rolls and scones from a local bakery, tons of mexican takeout, in order to gain weight just so I could silence the “talkers.”
This was more harmful than healthful in my opinion, but I felt it was my only option. It took months before I got to pre-pregnancy size again, and I finally decided to do it a healthy way (after all I am a nutritionist). I grew weary of comments and almost turned indifferent and numb toward it all. I just didn’t care anymore. I decided that I wanted to love myself, and that my health was more important than what others were saying.
Words are more harmful than we may believe. We should all stop ourselves in our tracks before uttering a negative or rude comment about another individual, especially if we don’t know the full story. Everyone has an individualized health plan in my opinion, and a very unique body. We all come in many different shapes and sizes, and this should be applauded.Struggling with A Weighty Judgement- Guest post by @WholsomelyBry Click To Tweet
So I ask you, where’s the line between judging someone and being concerned? Have you ever felt judged because of your weight or active lifestyle?
Bryanna Petrie blogs at Wholesomelyfit.com, blogging about health, fitness, family and faith. Our health takes a “whole” body approach, and Wholesomely Fit seeks to inspire others to a healthy, active and whole lifestyle through their nutrition, fitness and spiritual walk. Bryanna is a marathoner and ultra marathoner, a 8x Boston qualifier, 3x Boston Marathon finisher, Nutritionist, health enthusiast, wife and new mom.