I Don’t Know How To Be A Skinny Girl

I was looking in the mirror a few days ago at my mom’s house, because being in a different house with different mirrors — full-length mirrors, at that — really helped me see where I’ve made huge strides in losing 23 pounds since February. I actually see a fitter girl now. I can physically see a skinny girl coming together. And you would think that would make me feel overjoyed, freaking amazing, ready to run a marathon because I’m so excited by the prospect of finally being where I’ve always wanted to be. And to a certain extent it does, but there’s another part that looms saying that prospect is scary. Terrifying, even, because of one thing.

I don’t know how to BE a skinny girl.

And that sounds weird to say. There shouldn’t and isn’t really a way of “being” a skinny girl or a fat girl. You just develop your personality the way you develop it, and for some that means different things than for others. But the thing is, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t overweight. I started gaining a lot of weight when I was about 12, and went up and down throughout the next 10 years of my life. I got used to being the fat friend, the fat classmate, the fat family member.

And those weren’t all necessarily negative roles to me, I just adapted to them. I learned to accept the fact that I would never fit into clothes at Wet Seal, where my 4’11”, 95-pound friend could shop, or any of my other naturally skinny friends. I learned to accept that I wouldn’t get hit on at the water park or restaurants, or get asked to dances. That’s just how it was. I had pretty good friends who accepted me the way I was, a family that loved me the way I was, so why be that invested in changing it? Too much work.

But my personality developed around those roles. I learned to use sarcasm, self-deprecation and dry wit to gain people’s affection, making them laugh. I learned nuanced details about friends that others didn’t take the time to do, and I was always, ALWAYS there for them. I learned to seek out the misfits like I felt I was, and let irritation and jealousy take over when it came to the girls I secretly wanted to be more like. I learned to dislike them for their popularity with boys, for the way their clothes would always look better than mine, for the bikinis they wore all summer. I would never be those girls, so I might as well hate them (though hate is a strong word… I just strongly disliked them).

But now I’m faced with the prospect of being one of them, and I have no idea what that means. I find I don’t know how to shop for my body anymore, because it’s so different, but not yet where I want it to be. I don’t need to shop exclusively for shirts that don’t show my stomach. I don’t need to compensate with my boobs so much. I don’t have to shy away from tank tops and tube tops and shorts as much anymore. But that isn’t how I’ve ever dressed my body, so it’s all completely foreign. How much can I show off without being at goal weight? Will I ever feel okay wearing a bikini? How short of shorts are too short? Will people think I’m slutty, like I used to think of some of those girls? God, I was a judgmental little jerk. How can I not feel like a hypocrite if I turn to this lifestyle?

I know I’m overthinking it all. I know that it’s not about all of this — it’s about being healthier, happier, more confident. And all of those things are happening. But the tangential feelings still matter, and they’re still scary as hell. It’s like getting to know yourself all over again.

But at least, so far, I like the new me. That’s a positive step as well. TC mark

image – Nozoomii

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  • Erin

    Too short, but I liked this.  I’ve always been the “fat” one too.  I’ve sort of just accepted it because I’ve always been this way – it’s not like I gained a ton of weight in high school – and I’ve tried changing it before.  

  • portia

    #whitegirlproblems

    • Guest

       How is the just a white girl problem?

      • Sara

         *this

      • portia

        I said #whitegirlproblems not #thisisjustawhitegirlproblem

    • bep

      how about
      #humanproblems
      weight is not a white girl issue.  though it may be a first world issue.  but that doesn’t matter, this story is incredibly relateable for anyone who has lost a significant (for them) amount of weight.  man or woman.  we shouldn’t dismiss the effects of body image, especially in this country.
       

    • Oliver Miller

      Anyone who’s leaving a comment on the internet exists in the world of #whitepeopleproblems, and therefore should not condescend or pretend otherwise.

      • guest

        finally, someone with a sense of humor. 

    • DaphneK

      #asshole

  • joey

    I really appreciated this, especially the part about how you adapted your personality around your roles- I do that too. I’m 4’10 but on the rounder side, and having grown up as the chubby one in the family, I can definitely appreciate how that affects your reactions to others. I’m by no means at the “skinny girl” stage yet, but I do wonder how I’ll act/react once I get there. Thanks for sharing all of this! 

  • Nishant

    I think you’re doing good. Of course you know that you don’t HAVE to do all those things! As an analogy: Just because you’re ‘cool’ doesn’t mean you have to behave like the ‘wanna-be cool’ kids. :)

  • anon.

    Be proud for your weight loss, but if there was only 23 pounds between you and skinny… well, you weren’t really “fat” to begin with.  It’s amazing that you feel better and healthier – that should always be the goal. But to me this read as… 23 pounds is the difference between a misfit without a date and a pretty girl in a bikini – and that’s just not a healthy or even realistic message.

    • BTCPLZ

      She said she lost 23 lbs since February which doesn’t necessarily indicate further weight loss but doesn’t preclude it. The article obviously expresses feelings about her decade-long struggle with weight management, so give her a break. She’s probably lost a lot more than 23 lbs and how dare you give backhanded support to someone coming to terms with their self-esteem.

    • guest

      not true- I lost about 25 lbs in the past 2 yrs, but I also gained a TON of muscle weight, & I’m 5’2″, so visually, the loss is much more dramatic. I went from a 14 to a 6-8, which IS a healthy & realistic message.

    • Kelcie Moseley

      I’m about halfway through, not at goal. But the fact that it’s heading down that road is the scary part, not that I’m already there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erinhouse Erin Graye House

    so relatable, glad I’m not alone on this one.

  • lefty

    I’ve lost about 30 pounds recently, and while I’m more comfortable with my arms, legs, and stomach – I’ve lost my curves which I’d grown accustomed to. My friends hate when I express and self consciousness with my small boobs and small butt, but I went from one form of discomfort to another.

  • Caroline T

    so many questions

  • Amanda

    I’m still working on the same issue. How do you change a body image you’ve grown accustomed to? It’s bizarre. Thanks for writing!

  • Sara

    I’ve been here too…I was the “fat” girl all through high school, and dropped 30lbs in college.  It’s an adjustment – I still don’t like wearing “skimpy” clothes.  

  • Jessica

    You’re yourself, just thinner.  If you’re attributing so much of your personality to your weight, you have more problems than just finding clothes that fit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=596972108 Kelsey Higham

      “[…] you have more problems than just finding clothes that fit.”
      For example, it’s possible that you live in a society that places undue importance on personal appearance.

      • Jessica

        Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Recognize that it’s not healthy to be in that mindset, do something about it (therapy, confidence-building activities beyond approval on your appearance), and try to help others.  The only reason society is a problem is because members of society allow it to perpetuate.

  • rebecca

    No matter how big or small you are, it all depends on your confidence. 

    • a.

      No and yes. Yes, to some extent confidence makes a huge difference. But you can’t deny that fat vs. skinny girls simply have different experiences in how people interact with them, and how that shapes them.

  • justanotherreader

    “But my personality developed around those roles. I learned to use sarcasm, self-deprecation and dry wit to gain people’s affection, making them laugh. I learned nuanced details about friends that others didn’t take the time to do, and I was always, ALWAYS there for them. I learned to seek out the misfits like I felt I was, and let irritation and jealousy take over when it came to the girls I secretly wanted to be more like. I learned to dislike them for their popularity with boys, for the way their clothes would always look better than mine, for the bikinis they wore all summer. I would never be those girls, so I might as well hate them (though hate is a strong word… I just strongly disliked them).” 

    you are me.

  • Cassie E Allison

    I’ve lost 40 pounds so far on my journey to my goal weight and I feel all the same things, you are not alone

  • Anonymous

    I’m happy things are better for you now. I get that mindset so much-if it’s not really really broken do I really need to fix it?

  • Torriemiller

    This is fantastic. I’m in the beginning stages of losing a lot of weight that I’ve carried around my entire life. I feel like I was that girl when I was younger, especially in high school. Growing up, my personality has changed, and I’ve become more empathetic towards others unlike myself, but I don’t know how I will be once my weight is no longer hiding a thinner frame. I have always been slightly awkward in my approach, because I don’t know how to be 100% at ease with strangers, or people I don’t trust. I hope I’ll have the strength to stop hiding inside myself. 

    • El

      Your comment really moved me. I hope you will feel great and love yourself. People might interpret your awkwardness as disdain, once you’re perceived as “having it all,” but maybe you can work on that. Just don’t hate who you were or people who are still like you were.
       

  • chrissy

    Even if I ever do lose the weight, I will always have the ‘fat girl’ mentality. I’ve got a great personality, probably because I had to cultivate it to feel the need to keep up with the skinny girls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dana.mcwrennykins Dana Hope McWrennykins

    I feel the same way about all of this.  I’ve lost 30 pounds so far, and I didn’t realize that there would be so many changes in what I can wear and what I want to wear.  Sometimes it’s great.  Other times, my new-found confidence makes me dress like a toddler. “Underroos and rain boots?  Hell yeah that’s what I’ll wear to class.  Because I look DAMN GOOD.”  

    Congrats on your accomplishment!  

  • Anonymous

    great post. i also think this applies to anything that scars us in our life – divorce, assault, heartbreak. we adapt as humans to survive and once that wound has healed over, it’s hard to stop using those survival skills. it’s hard to get rid of the defensive mindset, created to shield us from pain.  

    good for you, keep up the good work!!

  • Anonymous

    23 lbs IS a big difference! Especially if you’re short. I lost 5 lbs and felt pretty different. I’d like to lose 15-20 more pounds and tone up. I haven’t worn a bikini since I was about 6 years old.

  • Laura

    “I learned to use sarcasm, self-deprecation and dry wit to gain people’s affection, making them laugh. I learned nuanced details about friends that others didn’t take the time to do, and I was always, ALWAYS there for them. I learned to seek out the misfits like I felt I was…”
    right, because thinner girls never felt the need to seek out misfits, or took the time to learn details about friends and be there for them, or are capable of wit and being funny. 

    • Zoe

      Oh, come on. She’s not saying that thin girls never had to do that, she’s just saying that that’s what she had to do.  She didn’t say, “I learned nuanced details about friends that THIN GIRLS didn’t take the time to do.” Get over yourself.

  • Guest

    I lost 35 pounds a few years ago – gained most of it back. BUT I remember being in that new body and everything feeling so foreign, from being able to sit down and not worry my stomach was hanging out to being in better shape. I still had those “fat girl thoughts” though. It’s hard to get used to a new, thinner body when all you’ve known up until that point has been being uncomfortable in your own skin. Congrats on losing weight though…must feeling amazing :) This article really made me want to get back into shape again!

  • Nikolina

    yes. thank you.

  • Anonymous

    This is a fantastic post because it is touching on an issue that is rarely noticed in our society. Specifically: that it is very common for people to form the central core of their personality around what they physically look like. Not everybody does it – let’s get this straight – but I’m sure you’ve met these two types of people. First – a tall, skinny, attractive woman who struts around the party thinking she is the centre of the universe. She walks with a certain swagger, she teases the boys, she flaunts her beauty. Second – a short, fat, ugly woman who her friends describe as introverted, probably because she doesn’t get anywhere near the same attention as her tall skinny opponent.

    But what of the people who don’t act like their bodies? The confident, sassy, chubby girl? The shy, introverted pretty girl? And what about the guys? As is most common, most talks of physically are focussed on women – what about the hot dudes who find it so easy approaching a woman, whilst their balding friend couldn’t summon the courage if he dared? 

    How do we get people to think past the person in the mirror, unleashing their true personality within?

  • Anonymous

    I’m 4’11 and about 25 pounds heavier than your friend and I don’t think I’ll ever know how to be a skinny girl. But I guess the best I can do is just be me and accept that and accept others as well and let it be because so it goes. I really liked this piece. Thank you :)

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