REAL Woman Wednesday: Skinny Shaming

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Is no more acceptable than fat shaming. Plain and simple.

What we fail to realize is that we as humans are a diverse lot.

April as I have said before is Autism Awareness Month. One concept from that movement is that neurodiversity is a spectrum from non-verbal to high-functioning (Asperger’s) to neurotypical (‘normal’). I want to borrow that concept for a moment.

Just as some people are born to be larger, so too are others born to be smaller. It is part of our DNA.

A lifetime ago as a personal trainer, I learned about a theory called ‘set point’, i.e. your ideal weight. That size at which your body functions at its best.

Can you weigh more than your set point? Yes, and I probably do right now. Likewise you can weigh less. And I have that too. At either of these extremes, your health is sub-par.

I discovered this one when I attempted the Sports Relief fun run last month. I barely finished one lap, let alone the three I had signed up for. Now, I am never going to be a runner. My body is designed more for power than speed. But not to be able to even walk it? Something is wrong. And I am working on it.

But likewise, if I lose too much weight my immune system suffers. I was just sixteen when I learned this one. I went on a fad diet (salad, tuna, tomato juice and sunflower seeds). I went all the way down to a size six. A couple of old photographs from that time still exist. I look pale and emaciated. A few weeks later a flu that was relatively minor in others sent me to the hospital…because my body had nothing to fight back with. I learned my lesson.

One more thing to remember…set point does vary a bit over a lifetime…as our metabolism slows. Mine used to be a size 10/12 and now is more of a 14/16.

The important thing to remember is HEALTH. 

While size diversity is natural in humans as in other species, you have only to look to nature to realize that they are limits to this. Pigeons are common enough to use as an example. You have some small ones and some fat ones. But you don’t see the equivalent of of either morbidly obese or size zero in nature. You know why? Neither could fly or defend itself from predators.

And if like me, you are not your ideal weight? Don’t diet. Make necessary life style changes in what and how much you eat…and exercise more.

And that applies just as much to the other end of the spectrum. As much as I joke my future-daughter-in-law about needing rice, peas and fried chicken that is not the answer…more healthy food choices is better than higher fat ones.

So whether your body is meant to be a size 6 or a size 16, be proud of who you are, be healthy and be tolerant of others, whose body is meant to be another size. 

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