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Growing up in a world of Skinny
I reached puberty in the 70s. The females who were hot, sexy, gorgeous and desired were Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, later Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista and hundreds of actresses and supermodels who looked like heroine junkies.
Charlie's Angels. Skinny.
They were skinny.
I, on the other hand, was not Skinny.
As a young girl I was a round little butterball tomboy. OK, I was fat.
Eileen is round. Not skinny.
At age 11 I hit a growth spurt and slimmed out. I sprouted long legs and a figure that started attracting whistles from construction guys twice my age. I had always been an athlete. I had muscles. But still, I was not skinny.
Skinny, you see, was the thing I could never achieve. It was the size 0 models on TV and saturating the magazines.
They were not thin. They were Skinny. Sticklike and very frail, and you could see their bones. They looked almost skeleton-like without the magic of a camera. Their thighs never touched. Their diet, it seemed, was a salad and a gram of coke. Or, they had the coveted 36-24-36 Playboy hourglass figure, still with flat tummies and no bodyfat.
Linda and Kate are Skinny
I had belly flab, no waistline and muscle. You couldn’t see any of my bones.
In real life, Skinny was the really popular girls in highschool who wore a size 0- 3 while I, stumbling along in that dangerous zone of popular-ish, was struggling to get into my 7s and 9s.
Prom Nite. I hated myself for being fat.
So I wore 7s and 9s. I wasn’t fat! But as a hardcore food addict, binge eater and severe food and body image neurotic, I compared myself daily to all this Skinny and in my own mind I came up FAT. Repulsive. Disgusting.
Even though I was an athletic tennis player, weight trainer and runner, I spent every single day of my life hating myself for not being Skinny. This is true. I spent every single day of my life, into my 30s, hating myself for not being that very word.
I obviously have issues. I’m putting them out here. I take complete responsibility for my stuff and am not a victim. But I think other women relate.
Being a Grown Up
As an adult, it has been a long and excruciating journey to learn how to eat right, stay fit and most important, love my body. While the journey started at age 11, feelings of self acceptance and self love, and the ability to let go of ridiculously destructive eating habits and body image problems have only solidified in the last three years. I’m 48.
CrossFit and Paleo.
The very worst moment of Before: chasing the ups and downs of trying to be Skinny. After: Loving the ups and downs of training and the barbell.
In this new found state of physical fitness and (very imperfect) self love, I am strong. Not the strongest by any stretch. But I can throw around a bunch of weight and I have a lot of muscles.
I’m strong! And I love it!
Today, even my dog loves being Strong.
So why would I want to proclaim that my gorgeous, delicious, healthy state of STRONG is the new Skinny – the new state of something I could never achieve, the new state of something that always hung over me as a source of complete, soul wrenching torment?
Why would I proclaim that this strong, fit, healthy muscled body of mine is the new something that is so patently, wholly unhealthy, unattractive, unattainable by almost all of us, and represents eating habits and lifestyles I know to be almost lethal?
Honestly, why would I want ANYTHING I celebrate as positive and beautiful to be the new Skinny?
For me, Strong stands alone – glorious and beautiful – achievable by any woman, no matter if she wears a size 1 or 18, whether her bodyfat is 35% or 10%, or whether she has any other athletic abilities.
Strong is a healthy state of emotional, physical and spiritual being that celebrates working for and achieving your own personal best – whatever it is.
It is not a reflection of body size.
So whether my thoughts about this resonate with only two of you, or two thousand of you, or make me highly unpopular, I stand here as a woman whose happy, healthy state of strong is sexy, savage, and outrageously satisfying on it’s own.
Especially because living in this state of Strong and sharing this celebration of Strong with so many other women feels like Victory: heady, hard earned personal freedom from the negative, unhealthy chains of that awful other S word.
Serena Williams. Strong is Beautiful.
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***This post is a personal reflection on my relationship to the word skinny and is obviously prompted by the phrase ‘Strong is the New Skinny”. It is not, repeat, not, a criticism, attack or challenge to the SINS movement or its creators, who continue to grow by leaps and bounds their profound, amazing, positive impact on tens of thousands of people worldwide. I’m dead serious about this. Please view it as a personal celebration of Strong, a personal rejection of the word skinny, and that’s it. *******