[Image shows 3 spoons laying on a laptop keyboard with an overlaying clipart of torn notebook paper with a red paperclip. On the paper reads “Why You Shouldn’t Wish to Be My Size” with the clipart of a pinkish/brown waving person with a green awareness ribbon on their abdomen. At the bottom of the banner in red text is the URL for Thee Crohnie Grace Blog]
Body image is a problem for many. Between fat shaming and skinny shaming, there is no body that ever seems good enough for people, because of the fact that the standard of beauty is that of a photoshopped woman. All my life I have been badgered about my weight on a regular basis. Not only by doctors, but by family, friends, and even strangers who feel the need to comment or in some cases “wish they could be” my size.
[Small image shows me at probably 8-9 years old in a black and white photo with my brother. We are on a beach, I’m in a bikini, my ribs are visible, my brother is squinting and has his arm raised. We are both smiling.]
Ever since we had to get weighed in elementary school for gym class and find out our BMI, it was apparent that people envied how small I was. They didn’t see how I forced myself to eat when I felt like I was going to throw up, how much pain it caused me to eat, how no matter how many calories I got in the day, I didn’t absorb the nutrition right so I was still malnourished. I had doctors harassing me on a regular basis about my weight.
“This is the line for average children, and here you are below the line, you should be here…” They would say while pointing at line charts and expecting me to comprehend all the numbers and lines that simply said “You don’t weigh enough.”
So I would drink ensure, boost, carnation shakes, my mom kept a journal of all my intake and output and if my output outweighed my intake then I was being told “You need to eat.”
I was 9, kids should not be so worried about their weight at 9 that they wish to be the size of a kid who was in and out of hospitals. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 9, and malnutrition was one of the things that went hand in hand with it.
As I got older, it was no longer just a thing in gym class and doctors office, I noticed that I wasn’t allowed to be unhappy with my body because “at least your skinny” they would say. I was getting infusions every 4 weeks to stay out of hospitals, still not gaining weight, I would become physically sick when I tried to force myself to eat more. And strangers seem to want to chime in as well.
I remember being at a fair with my friend and having two girls come up to me and tell me, “Oh my gosh you’re so tiny! I wish I was that small!” And I got annoyed and just said, “I have chronic illnesses where my body doesn’t absorb nutrition right.” And then they got awkwardly silent and my friend changed the topic and we left.
I was so tired about hearing about my weight. Yes, it wasn’t a healthy weight, but I didn’t understand why everyone else would want to be this small when all I wanted at 15 was to have a curvy body. Of course people always want what they don’t have.
[Photo image on the left is of me at a bowling alley, I’m standing at a bit of a lean, I’m wearing a button up black and red checkered shirt and baggy jeans while carrying a bowling ball, my hair is long and brownish/blonde/red and I’m forcing a smile, my arms are tiny like twigs. Photo image on the right is me holding a stick of bamboo in a warrior-esque pose with my hair pulled back, I have glasses on this time, I’m in a black shirt with white crosses on it and standing in the woods.]
In high school it was no different, I couldn’t even change in the locker room without having someone comment on my spine sticking out or ribs. My freshmen year I changed in the showers most days because I got sick of having people comment every time I took off my shirt.
[Image shows me sitting in a wheelchair, holding a snake while in a floral earth toned dress, I have long reddish brown hair and glasses]
When I left high school in the 11th grade for fistulas and surgery and everything I weighed 85 lbs, it continued to drop over the summer and by the time my senior year had rolled around I weighed about 75 lbs. I was put on NG feeds and was on a high dose of prednisone.
The combination put me at 110lbs, the most I had ever weighed. I was finally at a healthy weight. I got a lot of mixed comments then about how much weight I had put on, while others simply said I finally looked healthy. Anytime I was unhappy though, family blamed my weight again. I couldn’t win. Before they told me I was too skinny and needed to eat, but was also admired for being small. And now I must be sad because I had put on weight. I was happy with my weight, but for some reason they thought I wouldn’t be or that I couldn’t be.
When I got off all the prednisone and lost the weight again, now back to 88lbs, I had an aunt tell me “You look so much better since you lost the weight.” And I almost couldn’t stop myself from going, “What the hell? I’m sick again. I can’t keep food down. And you’re telling me I look good?”
At one point a relative of my boyfriend was talking about how she wished she was my size at Thanksgiving and I said, “Oh no, I can’t eat anything without throwing it back up thanks to gastroparesis. I don’t even wish I was my size.” And she insisted, “Oh no, I would love to have that and throw up anything I eat so I could eat and not gain a pound.”
But she would never be able to handle the tubes, the fact that you’re not hungry anyway so eating doesn’t even sound good, when/if you get hungry you just puke it up anyway, feeling fatigued and unable to make it up a flight of stairs, the chest pain from heart palpitations from malnutrition, passing out from low vitamins, etc. Which is the reality of untreated gastroparesis.
Between Gastroparesis and Crohn’s, my body doesn’t get enough to survive. If it weren’t for tube feedings, I would not be able to get the nutrition I need to survive. And even with the NJ tube, with having an ostomy and Crohn’s still active it makes it very hard still to absorb nutrition.
I am in a constant battle with my body, physically and emotionally. It was Body Positivity Week though last week, and so I felt the need to discuss how people need to stop wishing they were my size. Unless they are wanting to take on everything I have to deal with as well that has led to this malnourished body. This is not a healthy body size. So think before you say, “I wish I was your size…” because you never know the struggle that body has been through that has led to what you think is a good body.
[Image shows me with short red hair and no glasses smiling blankly, I have my NJ tube, I’m wearing a white and grey sweatshirt that has the MARVEL logo on it]