Skinny Culture

Updated: Aug 5, 2018

TRIGGER WARNING - eating disorders

I tweeted about “skinny culture” the other day, but I think it is such a big issue and can have such a massive effect on some people I thought I would write more about it as it is something we are all guilty of without even knowing it, so here we go…

Recently I have been put on new medication due to a new diagnosis, which has explained so many things I struggled with at school.  The medication has transformed me in such a great way; enabling me to sleep properly for the first time in years and actually allows me to concentrate fully on what I am doing – great, fantastic!!  However along with the good it has also had a negative effect.  It has killed any appetite and resulted me loosing a serious amount of weight in an extremely short period of time – I have never ever been this weight.  I no longer enjoy eating I eat because I have to, not because I want to.  This is something totally new to me – I have always loved food, though sometimes (it has just been pointed out to me) not in the most healthy way.

Having suddenly lost all this weight, I have lost count of the number of people that have said things along the lines of:

  • “Gosh, well done you have lost so much weight”

  • “You look so well”

  • “How have you done it?”

  • “What’s your secret?”

And so, so many different things along these same lines. 

I would be lying if I said this does not give me a real buzz – of course it does, who doesn’t want to be told they are looking well, and who in this day and age does not want to loose weight.  The trouble is though I know rationally I have lost weight by the number on the scales I do not feel it in the slightest, I still see myself in exactly the same way I always have done - podgy with big boobs and a wobbly tummy.  This skewed thinking can become dangerous on its own let alone with people reinforcing how good it is I have lost weight.  I can see how this could very easily escalate, as in my head I will never see the reflection I want to see.  Logically I know this – and I know that 99% of people don’t see what they would like to see in their reflection – however with each compliment you feel that maybe, just maybe  you could get there.  I am lucky and being watched carefully from all angles by my trainer, therapist and psychiatrist to make sure things don’t go too far (however much I really hate them for it – I cannot even tell you how much I miss running like I used to!). 

But for someone not as fortunate as me having people looking out for me, I can see how receiving constant praise for loosing weight can mess with vulnerable people, teens and children’s heads. Complements being given along these lines are reinforcing that thin is good, therefore thinner is better and this is where an eating disorder could start slowly creeping in. It is also not at all helped by the media surrounding us with photo-shopped “perfect”  {whatever rubbish that is} men and women, giving those vunerable people again something unrealistic to be striving to meet.

There is not one single age bracket that has not commented positively on my weight loss – even thought I have never ever been this weight. There is no voice of concern (except from close friends, family and those mentioned above). All I am being told is that it is great I have lost this weight and it deserves being congratulated and commented on constantly from all directions.  This shows how every single age group has gotten used to and accepted the “skinny culture” that surrounds us- this needs to STOP. 

People need to think before ever commenting on someone’s weight.  As it is always said, you would never dream of commenting on someone who has put on weight or who is obese, for fear of insulting them.  So why is it not the same when we loose weight?  Loosing weight can be just as dangerous as people putting on weight, and this needs to be remembered.

For all you know when you are complimenting someone for loosing weight, it could be because that person has been starving themselves for days, striving loose weight to look “perfect”.  By complementing the person you may be reinforcing to them that this unhealthy, sometimes fatal behavior is getting them the results they so badly want – you could be encouraging them to go on just a few more days without eating, just by giving them this one compliment. 

So please think before you comment on someone’s weight – you have no idea what that person may be going through, or what damage that one compliment could do.  I am by no means saying this applies to everyone, but you never know what is going on truthfully in someone’s brain, especially in today’s “skinny culture” when apparently you can’t be too thin, until that is, it is fatal.


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