Body image vs. clueless relatives

I know I posted yesterday, and usually my posts aren’t this serious, but I thought about this post during my shower (which was 20 minutes because our shower head is broken so showering takes twice as long) and decided I definitely wanted to write it.

First things first: Let me just clear something up.  Anorexia is not the same as being skinny/thin, and being skinny does not automatically mean you are anorexic.

Anorexia: a serious physical and emotional illness in which an abnormal fear of being fat leads to very poor eating habits and dangerous weight loss (Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary)
Skinniness: a physical state in which there is a lack or less-than-desirable-amount of body fat, and has nothing to do with psychological or emotional factors.

This post is directed towards some of my relatives, even though they will probably never read it.  Then again, it’s also a manner in which I release my frustration.

So, the back story is that I have a few more corpulent relatives that are by no means athletes and I have nothing in common with, other than blood.  I’m not trying to insult them based on bodily size, I’m just giving you context.  I am aware that many runners battle with body image and eating disorders, but I generally do not have these problems (and hopefully will not have them).  Another common side effect of being a competitive high school athlete is that I am…skinny! Because I am constantly exercising, I have lots of muscle but not  a lot of fat.  The thing is, I’m a healthy weight.  I’m healthy.  I eat right, I stay hydrated, I rest, I do not have a distorted body image, and I do not resort to abnormal eating habits that cause harm to my body.

Anorexia, on the other hand, is a disease, not a physical state.  It is a tragic psychological disease with an alarmingly high mortality rate, but it is not something that I struggle with.  Unfortunately, my corpulent relatives, who have never really had a healthy lifestyle like I do, don’t really understand that anorexia isn’t just the same thing as being skinny (“Aren’t anorexic people all skinny, and therefore all skinny people have got to be anorexic???” is legitimately their manner of thinking), and therefore treat me like I’m anorexic.  The even more frustrating thing is, they are also among the many who assume that anorexia and other eating disorders can be solved by handing the anorexic person food and making them eat it.  To sum the situation up, they think I have an eating disorder simply because I am a competitive high school athlete and skinny, and they infuriatingly treat eating disorders the wrong way (and I don’t even have one).

I hope this isn’t too confusing, but it’s also mostly just a rant for myself.

When I was in California two weeks ago, I interacted with these relatives for a couple of days, which was frustrating in and of itself without the constant berating of my body.  Whenever they saw me, they would immediately comment on something related to my body or food.  We went to the grocery store just after lunch, and there were platefuls of free samples.  Corpulent relative (CR) #1 goes, “You need  to try these samples. Come have some samples!” I say, “No thanks” because we had just eaten lunch and I wasn’t hungry. CR #2 says, “We need to put some meat on those bones!” and aggressively shoves two plates of food into my hands.  Why do I need to put meat on my bones?  In order to be fat like them? (I’m sorry, I know that was mean, but they are both 100+ pounds overweight) (I don’t even like most of the food on the plate).  They both then watch me until I eat it.  Situations like these make me think that their thought process is: “Oh, she’s not overweight, so that means she’s anorexic. And the way to cure anorexia is by force-feeding her.” a) I’m not anorexic. b) That is just wrong.

Whenever I came back from a workout, they would say something completely unrelated to body image or size, and then tack on “skinny” or “miss runner” or “thin” at the end as a form of address. Example: “Do you want to help make the chocolate mousse, Skinny?”  “How was your workout, Thin?” This may not seem like a big deal- it may even seem flattering- but hearing it over and over starts to wear on you and is incredibly unnecessary.  Also, it makes me feel like I’m being judged by nothing except the fact that my thighs don’t touch.  It would be like me addressing them as, “Do you want to help make the chocolate mousse, Fatty?” which obviously is disrespectful and abhorred in our society.  Why is it acceptable for them to incessantly comment on my body size, but  rude and unacceptable for me to comment on their body size? It’s a complete double standard.  If I’m not allowed to call them “fat” (not that I would anyway), they should not be allowed to continually berate me for lacking body fat because I’m an athlete.  It can be just as mentally damaging.

Thank you for dealing with this rant.  I’m sorry if you think I’m crazy and I don’t mind if you disagree with me; I just wanted to put my opinion out there.

My next post will be much more lighthearted, hopefully 🙂

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