What is the difference between underweight and overweight? It’s a harder question than one might think. The constant struggle with changing the number that lies on the scales. Monitoring what you eating and managing quantities. Trawling through the Internet and books, desperate to find a diet that works and maintaining a strict regime. All of this to find that the little red line hasn’t moved a smidgen since you last clambered onto the scales. I’d say, one of the only differences between underweight and overweight, is the number that is trying to be altered. But the most profound difference is the perception of both within society.
When I was seven years old, it was made clear to me that if you didn’t look the right way, you wouldn’t be accepted. I was ridiculed for being fat, merely because I didn’t have a flat stomach. Even though I knew full well I wasn’t fat, the words lingered at the back of my mind. Gradually, I ate less and less. Skipping breakfast here and there and ‘forgetting’ to have lunch. This was at its worst about six years ago. My parents knew I wasn’t eating, so I’d have to try and make it seem as though I was. I’d put small amounts of cereal and milk in a bowl and leave it by the sink. I’d prepare a lunch for myself then throw it away on my two mile journey to school. The only meal I couldn’t get away from was dinner. But then my mindset changed after having the consequences of my foolish actions. Over a three year period, I was continuously ill. And with being asthmatic as well, it made me incredibly weak to the point where I’d have faint spells. It was a horrid cycle that I had gotten myself into. So I changed everything. I ate all of my meals, gradually increasing portion sizes. It has been difficult getting into a proper routine and finishing meals. But I have been successful in doing so the past two years. I still get ill from time to time and feel faint. But it’s nowhere near as bad as it was.
But there’s still a problem – there’s no reward. I eat masses of food now, but my weight doesn’t change. And at sixteen years old, I’ve never weighed more than 8 stone. And I’m still scrutinized for the way I look. Many times have I been told that I’m horribly skinny, I’m stick thin, and my personal favourite – I need to eat more. Though, I’m more than certain that if I did, I’d most probably explode! But what if I was in the opposite situation? What if I was overweight? The majority of people would say that it’s beautiful to be curvy and it’s ‘real beauty’. They wouldn’t dare say that I needed to eat a salad!
It seems that in the near ten years since this all started for me, things have changed and you’re able to embrace your body – but not if you’re skinny. Thin shaming is now what fat shaming was then. If you’re skinny, you have to do something about it because it’s repulsive for other people to see. But the thing is, it’s just as difficult to fulfil what society demands you to look like now as it was ten years ago. And these demands will inevitably change in the next ten years too. So what is the point in going to extremes and putting yourself in dangerous situations, just to achieve what will only momentarily be ‘right’. For the pleasure and satisfaction of other people? That doesn’t matter. The only person you should change your body for is yourself. As long as you’re healthy, you can look whatever way you wish. Because the beauty that will never change in demand of others is the person you are, not the body you are. It shouldn’t define you. I just wish that I had known that sooner, and saved myself all of the trouble.
By: Chloë Dodds / Contributor