I’m Too Skinny: On Body Shaming

“You need meat on your bones.”

My coworker said as he looked me over from head-to-toe. I am notorious for walking in our office with a blanket wrapped over my shoulders. He said I was “too skinny” and alleged if only I was fuller, I wouldn’t shiver as much.

“Wow. You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight… are you sure you’re OK?” My friend asked, concerned about my eating and exercise habits. She noticed my thinner legs and deeply-seated cheek bones. Her eyebrows furrowed as she gave me a classic once over.

I eat and exercise.

A few weeks ago, I started the Daniel Fast. It’s modeled after how the Bible’s Daniel responded to the king’s commands. He refuses to conform to society and resists indulging in the King’s food, like meat and alcohol.

At the start of 2017, I weighed the most I ever have. I wasn’t disappointed, but certainly aware of my heaviness. Today, in late August, I’m nearly 20 pounds lighter.

Ironically, I don’t think I’ve experienced radical transformations — I climb regularly, I try not to snack if I’m only bored, I take note of what I eat and how I can work it off in a healthy manner. I set fitness goals and try to see them through.

This fast tests my discipline: when I crave something sweet, I ask myself if I need it. When I want to drink wine, I ask why I look to that for rest or ease. How come I’m not taking that edge or exhaustion to Jesus?

“You don’t need to diet. You’re too skinny now. It’s unsafe for you to diet.” Though my friend spoke out of love, I reminded her it’s a fast, not a diet. It’s more spiritual than physical. It’s about my heart and soul, not my looks or curves.

Body shaming is so harmful.

When I was in second grade, a girl at church said I was “too fat to be a flyer” in cheerleading. I still remember the sting and hurt I felt when she spewed those unkind, hateful words.

As I gained weight in college — as most students do — I struggled with body image. Why aren’t my thighs skinnier? Why can’t I be just a few inches taller? I felt uglier than long-legged, blonde ladies in my sorority.

Yet here I am, nearly two years post-grad, and others are now speaking negatively of me losing weight. They raise their eyebrows and speak with condescending tones, “How much have you lost? Are you sure you’re healthy?”

Yes, I’m sure. I eat three meals a day with fruits and veggies and protein. I drink lots of water and avoid caffeine (thanks to Daniel). I climb a few times a week just an hour or so at a time, and just began getting back into yoga.

Friends, do not take note of my weight. Don’t say, “You look so skinny.” Say, “You seem so healthy.” Don’t note, “Have you gained weight?” Maybe ask, “How’s climbing going? Or yoga?”

Instead, keep me accountable to pursue an active lifestyle, to eat healthy, to seek holiness above all else. Check in if I’m taking my meds, assessing my needs, resting daily in God’s word. Ask me about who I’m praying for and why, and how you can pray for me in return.

We don’t need to zero in on ourweight. Or obsessively count calories. Or hyper-focus on our freckles or scars or split-ends.

Be healthy, not skinny. Be holy, not happy. Be you, not the woman on the magazine. Not the professional athlete. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your body.

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