I have always been what many people consider to be underweight. The fact is, many of my family members are slender and it is just natural for my frame. I have never before found my physicality to be a problem and I have always been confident about myself and my body image. However recently this has changed and I have started to feel very anxious about the way I look.
I am told every day by friends or colleagues that I am lucky to be: ‘skinny’ yet conversely I am also told to eat more. Nobody believes me when I tell them that I have a healthy diet, that I eat well every day and that I am an active, fit person.
I am in my mid-twenties and have been single for some time. I have recently become the subject of some discussion between my friends that as I am not very curvy I should consider putting weight on to gain some bigger attributes in order to become more appealing to men. To hear this was very upsetting, to the point where I have stopped going out altogether with my friends. Over recent weeks I have started to feel insecure about the way I look.
The thing is, I do not want to change in order to become more attractive in the eyes of other people. I am not interested right now in seeking a relationship. I just want to feel happy about who I am, as I have always done up to now.
What can I do?
I am so very sorry for what you are going through. Body shaming is a prevalent problem in today’s society and it is only becoming worse. It is important that people realise how victims of body shaming can fall into major depressions or suffer from severe anxiety disorders as a consequence. We are either too big or too small. Too thin or not thin enough. Our nose is too crooked or our teeth aren’t as white as they should be. I could go on. The point is this, each of us at some point in our lives will feel that there is something wrong with our appearance.
Often, the issue of slenderness is overlooked because for many it is a desired attribute. Because it is desired, many people will not equate judging someone’s thinness as being the same as judging someone who is overweight. Yet it is the same and both are simply unacceptable. Judgement of any kind will always carry negative connotations. These days, if you are labelled ‘skinny’, it tends to link with eating disorders or health issues or not being sexy enough, with slogans such as ‘‘only real women have curves’’ serving to aggravate the problem. Again, I could go on.
I am so pleased to hear that you do not wish to change, that you value being healthy and happy in your natural state of being. A big part of your pain seems to stem from the fact that your friends do not seem to appreciate this about you. Everything else aside, the priority here is caring for your own inner confidence and self-esteem. Continue to look after yourself, whether people believe you or not and remain on the high road. Often when people are outspoken about the way somebody looks
it reveals the insecurities they hold about themselves. Sometimes they are simply not thinking about how their words may cause great pain. It is your decision as to how you wish to approach this issue with your friends moving forwards. In some cases, people just need to be made aware as to when their actions have hurt us for them to stop and behave more considerately in the future. In other cases, the people we value as friends may not be the people we thought they were. The point is that you deserve to have supportive friends, who love and care for you. Settle for nothing less.
When it comes to future relationships, I am glad to hear that you are prioritising yourself right now. Never change yourself for anyone, man or woman. As you are already aware, you would not want to be with a partner that values you only for your appearance in any case.
In these next few weeks, give yourself some space to regain the part of you that feels lost right now. Focus on what you want for yourself moving forwards in life, irrespective of the negativity from those around you. Surround yourself with people that lift you, not those who bring you down. Put plainly, keep being you Colette, you are beautiful just as you are.
Wishing you strength and happiness,
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