February 24, 2011

On My Mind

I had originally planned a running focused post today; I was going to fill you in on my thoughts for Spring training, racing and my goals. But something's on my mind and I've decided that my original post will have to wait.

When did it become ok to openly critique and judge each other's bodies without first considering the feelings of the person you are discussing? I am thin; yes I'm aware. I've always been a relatively small person; it's just the way I was built. But that doesn't mean I don't have feelings, it doesn't mean that you can openly make comments about my body, and it doesn't mean that I don't have my own insecurities. Where is this coming from? Ok, let me back up.

Yesterday, an online magazine posted a story about Cameron Diaz's arms because it seems that there was nothing else more important going on in the world. Hmmm. The title of the story was "Can Arms Be Too Big?" and they posted this picture.
I'm not even going to post a link to this article because it repulsed me and doesn't deserve any additional attention. Readers' comments on the article ranged from cruel and insensitive ones about Cameron, to insecure ones about their own bodies. I read them and I just got sad. Why does it matter to us if Cameron has muscles? If she's happy and healthy with herself, what's it our business?

And then today happened. After a morning of running around the city, to meet up with a friend for a workout and then to a meeting with my accountant, I found myself purchasing gemstones in midtown for some new rings I'm designing. Because I had spent the morning running around, I didn't make time to eat enough which I know was a mistake. I assumed I would grab something on my way to the accountant, but sometimes being gluten free makes that a bit difficult and I didn't plan ahead. My bad. So while I was sorting through some gemstones, I thought out loud "Wow, I'm hungry." It was just a thought, not an invitation for commentary. But I guess the woman helping me thought otherwise because her response to me was "Well of course you're hungry. You're too skinny. Do you even eat enough? You're way too skinny. It's not even attractive." Um, ouch.

First let me say, I'm not too skinny. I don't feel the need to go into any further discussion about my weight, my body size or how much food I eat. And I'm not writing this post for validation from anyone so please don't comment with such.  I'm writing this post because this isn't the first time this has happened to me, and it sucks to know that it probably won't be the last. People have been commenting on my body and my weight for as long as I can remember. Back in middle school, one of my teachers actually wrote in my yearbook " you are my inspiration to stay on my diet". Ok, not an insult but not exactly what you should write a 12 year old girl who is just learning about herself and is trying to figure out her place in the world. For many years, comments like that made me think that my body was my most valuable asset and if I didn't look a certain way, people wouldn't like me. It's amazing that I never developed a major eating disorder.

And since I'm on a roll, I'll take a minute to take the rant a bit further. Just because I am thin does NOT mean I do not work hard to stay healthy and in good shape. Thin only goes so far. It doesn't take you 26.2 miles or mean muscles and strength. I've earned those with dedication, training and some major effort. I work my ass off to feel good and strong and it bothers me when I open up to someone about my insecurities and they treat them as insignificant because I'm thin.  If you're going to have a conversation with me about your struggles, I'm happy to listen and chances are that I'll chime in with my own thoughts and experiences. Don't blow them off because those challenges are real to me. They matter. And yes, I'm pretty happy with my body and am aware that I'm lucky to have it but I also have goals and things I want to work on. Just because I'm thin doesn't mean that those goals aren't important to me.

People seem to think that because I'm thin, I don't have feelings. So let it be known that when it comes to my body, I do have feelings.  Maybe if I put my thoughts out here, someone will think twice the next time they are about to critique someone's body or act like the effort that person puts into staying healthy and in good shape is no big deal, just because they are thin. I'm not telling you not to compliment each other or to totally avoid the body as a conversation topic. I often tell people that they have awesome arms, incredible abs, or that they are beautiful. But I don't send young girls the message that their body is their most valuable asset and I don't say hurtful things to people. If you are concerned about someone you know, say something. But say it in a respectful way expressing concern, not criticism.

I wonder if the woman today would've have commented if I was overweight? Do you think people are more sensitive to those who are overweight because that is accepted as "undesireable"? Any other thoughts you'd like to add to my rant? Go right ahead...

P.S. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest

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