Monday, June 21, 2010

Skinny, But Not A Freak

"How does that go?" my friend began, a smile creeping onto her face. "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth?"

"Yes, well, I hope it's skinny people, too," I grumbled, knowing exactly what she was doing. I was in the middle of non-meekly ranting about something I still hadn't accepted, and both of us knew at the rate I was going the only thing I was destined to get was something stress-related.

But I was tired of the media referring to certain celebrities and actresses as "skeletons" and possessing "collarbones that could cut glass."

I was fed up with people assuming that the only reason for these women's thinness was because they engaged in willful starvation or something equally as harmful.

And it wasn't just the media anymore. Recently one of my other friends had decided she didn't like a movie an actress was in because that actress had become "too skinny."

The way my friend was talking, you'd have thought this actress had drowned some puppies--or something just as evil. And I couldn't help wondering: When did being thin become sinful?

Had people forgotten that some humans are genetically thin--and do actually eat at least three meals a day, including fat and carbs?

Whether this actress was naturally lean, I didn't know. But for a 45-year-old woman, I thought she looked strong and healthy--definitely not "too skinny". And before I knew it, I was defending her.

I wish I could say it was for altruistic reasons, but it wasn't. It was because of a stranger's comment years ago, which made this issue feel personal.

I was in my early 30s and working part-time as an on-air host for a visitors'-television channel. For one particular shoot, I was the model for a clothing store.

The store happened to be in between merchandise shipments, so the staff was having difficulty fitting me. When I finally stepped out of the dressing room to show the store's owner the outfit, a look of disgust flooded her face.

"No! No! Your chest! Your shoulders!"

She whirled away from me, snatched a scarf the size of a sofa from one of her staff, bound it around my neck and shoulders, and commanded, "Hide your bones."

That's when my center shifted from inside of me to somebody else that I didn't even know and I felt like the freak I assumed she thought I was.

I had never felt that way about myself before. My whole family is genetically slender, so it had always felt natural to me. And as for my shoulders and collarbone, I'd never even noticed them before. But ever since then, they have felt like something that needed to be hidden.

Recently, after telling a close friend how much my bony shoulders bothered me, she asked me why I didn't simply put on some weight; then they wouldn't be bony anymore.

But I wasn't looking for advice on how to change what was natural about me in order to make others happy. What I was looking for was how to accept what was natural about me--even if it was different--in order to make myself happy and not feel like a freak.

There's a philosophical question that goes, "When you dance with a gorilla, how do you know when the dance is over?"

The answer is, "When the gorilla says so."

That's how it is with this resentment of mine. It's so big and powerful it will always rule my thoughts and feelings as long as I choose to let it.

If I want to be at peace with this body, grateful for the health and strength of it--instead of embarrassed because it doesn't match up to what some people think is beautiful or normal--no one can help me but me.

I have two choices really: I can keep wincing and whining or I can gather the meekness within me, the inner strength and humility, which makes me immune to getting hurt by what others think or say.

So I can gain the possession and control of my peace in this life on this earth.

And let the gorilla go.

QUESTION: Are you at peace with the natural shape and size of your body and, if not, why?

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