Wednesday, March 2

Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones.....

A new blog has recently come to my attention. Taketheloadoffkittsie  has a  most interesting and candid post about being too heavy as a child, and what it does to your soul when people say things that are meant to  compliment and mollify, but devastate instead, due to hidden meaning. Go and read about it - I'll wait. 

I hate to admit that I have been guilty of saying some of the phrases that Colleen mentioned; such as...."You have a beautiful face...." to a woman whom I'd refer to as "large. " I will try never to say that again, especially to a child who might misinterpret what I meant to say.

I had the opposite problem. My mom was always first in line to tell me daily that I was too thin. My nicknames were slat-legs, skinny minnie, bag-o-bones and the like. Believe me, it hurt me just as much as it hurts a fat child to be wearing clothing labeled as "chubby" or to hear herself being called mean names referring to her weight. I was given ice cream, milkshakes, sodas, extra helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy, huge pieces of cake - and when all that failed to put a pound on me, she resorted to making me eat something that had to have been conjured up by the devil. 

Called "Wate-On", it was a thin wafer that tasted like cardboard that had a faint banana flavor, and it made me gag every time. I began to figure out ways I could get around chewing it, and I was very happy when mom had to leave the kitchen for some reason and I could stash it away  deep in the trash container , while pretending I had swallowed it. (The link takes you to a blog I found that mentioned the product and shows old advertisements for it. )

At age fifteen, I started smoking. It's a long story (I've told it before), and by the time I had smoked one pack, I was totally hooked. The cigarettes managed to keep my appetite suppressed and consequently I stayed thin all through high school, college and my early married years. At age thirty-eight, I quit smoking (hardest thing I have ever done) and thus began the end to my skinny years. I put on twenty pounds the first year, twenty pounds the second year and since then, I've gained a few every year. I joke that I was perfect (body-wise) for about two weeks in 1982, and then it all went downhill...lol

The point of telling you this and pointing you to Colleen's blog, is to hope that you will realize that what you say to a person about their weight (whether they are heavy or thin) affects them in ways you could never imagine, and it is especially hard for children. One tends to assume that a fat person is a glutton and that skinny people are or may be ill. Those assumptions are not necessarily true - although they could be.

Some of you are probably thinking that being skinny isn't a bad problem to have. I am here to tell you that it is just as devastating to a kid to be teased about being thin as it is to be obese.  Please think before you speak!

16 comments:

srp said...

There are also the things kids say about "names". You have to watch what you name your kids... initials and such. I remember kids saying that I had "rocks and sand" in my head...of course, I was much smarter than they were in class at school so... na-na-na-na-na-na.

LL Cool Joe said...

It's dreadful to be teased about anything, as a kid or an adult, and not just weight.

People really should think before the speak, but it's hard because what many people honestly believe they are saying as a compliment, can be the complete opposite.

and I should know...

Lynn said...

People don't realize how thoughtless they can be, I don't think. I used to be a weight loss counselor at Jenny Craig and heard some heartbreaking stories. I hope the young lady finds catharsis in writing about her journey. (And I can certainly imagine the opposite is true, if you are very thin.)

Tracy said...

Kenju,
Thanks for waiting so long...I had to go over and read Colleen's blog and write a response and then come back to yours...I hope I didn't inconvenience you!
Anyway, thanks so much for pointing out her blog. I know I've said that even though I have an overweight sister. In fact if you read my past two blogs about my sister as there are photos--she has always been on the heavy side and has always resented me for being thin. To this day she does, although I have gained weight but still not as much to be heavy as she is. She has had gastric bypass surgery and just has always struggled. Becasue of her I tend to be very sensitive to overweight individuals and I've been in enough Eating Disorder therapys groups to know that the fat hides pain. When I was in-hospital treatment at two different times, I got to spend day to day living with indivdiuals who were heavy,k which is an eating disorder as well, but no one gives them that luxury.
Anyway, sorry to go on and on...
just thanks!

Sparkling Red said...

One thing that people forget is that even a compliment indicates that you have passed judgement on a person. Even someone saying "Oh, you look so nice today!" can make you question if that person thinks you look crappy every other day, depending on your relationship with that person and your own insecurities. It's complicated.

Thumper said...

Oh yea, the comments one gets as too thin are as hard to take as the comments one gets when they're overweight. Any slur is hard to take, even in a backhanded compliment kind of way...

Thanks for pointing out a new blog to haunt! :)

Looking to the Stars said...

I, like you, had the problem of being thin. No matter what I ate I could not gain. I was 5'6" & 115lbs till at the age of 48 I went to 145lbs & have stayed there. Now, I cannot lose no matter what I do.

I use to be teased about being to thin. My mother n law was always ragging to my hubby that there was something wrong with me because I was to thin. NOW, she rags to him that I'm to fat.

No matter what your weight is, people will be cruel. To me, they are just small minded and mean because they are not happy with themselves. Its better to let comments flow off your back, like water on a ducks back. But, that's just the way I feel :)

tiff said...

The assumption that fat people are lazy pigs is a touch nut to crack. The assumption that thin people don't eat and are vain is also hard to crack. Like you said Judy - watch what you say (AND think)!

CK said...

Thank you so much for blogging about my site, Kenju. You said such lovely things. And I appreciate your insight, and the insight of your readers, from the other end of the spectrum. Body image is something most of us struggle with, in one way or another. Often, when I compliment someone, I choose something specific, such as a piece of jewellery or a scarf, to mention.

Darlene said...

Sparkling Red brought out an important thought. Last week a friend told me that I had been so much fun to be with the past two times we were together and to keep it up. Of course, what I heard was that I had not been fun for the previous times we had been together.

Sometimes a comment disguised as a compliment is actually an insult.

Pat said...

I don't remember being teased about being skinny as a child but my mother was constantly trying to fatten me up with cod liver oil and malt and adexolin so was very self conscious and aware that I would never have the generous calf muscles of my friends. Once my bosom sprouted I felt better but try never to mention a person's weight.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

You can't win in this culture...Living in Los Angeles where there is such extreme emphasis on weight---Well, it is just about impossible, especially if you buy into the "thin" is the only way, and for some that means they become Bulemic and or Anorexic....!

I have heard other very this people 'back in the day' say what you said Judy...that you were treated badly because you were too thin....!

None of it is easy, is it?

At this point, I can't worry about it all....though I am not happy about my weight...In reality, I think in all my almost 80 years I was happy about my weight for a few months, all together...Now THAT is pitiful!

Travelin'Oma said...

The things parents say make an indelible impression no matter how old their child is. I was about 31 when my mother commented on my son (who was 5) "He really is an odd, skinny kid." Thirty years later I still remember and become defensive. And she's dead!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I have been asked (by more than one person) if I am anorexic. Not so much anymore, but when I was thinner. What a question! Very insulting.

Arkansas Patti said...

Judy, it never dawned on me that being referred to as skinny would ever be bad. I always took saying it to someone as a envious compliment.
Like you, I was perfect weight wise till I quit smoking in my thirties. Been a struggle since.
Now I am off to that link. Thanks for the eyeopener.

rennratt said...

Yes.

I was first told that I was fat when I was around two years old. It's one of the few things that I remember from my childhood.

I was put on my first strict diet when I was ten, and declared to have 'great birthing hips' by age 12.

My sister, on the other hand, has always been slim to the point of bones sticking out. [She has health issues that prevent weight gain.] I was called a fat pig, and she was deemed anorexic.

We BOTH suffered.