Here's the deal - I'm skinny. I've always been thin. As a kid I was downright scrawny. When I went through my awkward phase I was still gangly (as gangly as an almost-5-foot-3 frame can allow). Then came the thighs - not thunder thighs, but thunderish enough to make a teen girl fret. Never was I a pound over 113.
Now I weigh a little less than that. Approaching 30, I have morphed from "nice thin girl" to "Omigod, what the hell happened to her?" Barely masked horror and conversations reserved for Talking Behind One's Back Hour ensue. I'm not being paranoid. I have good friends kind enough to inform me.
As a society obsessed over the obesity phenomenon, we have forgotten what's at the other end of the scales. I'll tell you what has befallen me: I've grown into an underweight adult woman. Believe it or not, this actually happens to some people who are not cultivating a fear of carbs, kneeling over a toilet bowl or counting every half-calorie in a celery stick.
The fat-is-beautiful-if-potentially-hazardous-to-the-health philosophy carries with it the implication that skinny is unnatural. Yet the longest-living population in the world - in Japan - is thin and gets by really well on a diet of greens, tea, fish and a handful of rice.
The fact is, just as skinnies are liable to think all large people have to do to lose weight is eat less, heavies gloat in their certitude that skinny people are anorexic.
Do you think we like being beanpoles? There are as few clothes made to fit us in regular stores as there are for the portly. Large folk are considered jolly and fun-loving, whereas we angular types are supposed to be shrewd, untrustworthy and prone to melancholy. Heavy people feel watched every time they so much as look at food, but us skinnies are scrutinized for every available morsel we don't grab.
Hello! Of course we don't eat as much - our small stomachs can't handle it! Try pouring a carton of milk into a thimble. And here's the rub - nutritionists will tell you it's actually harder to gain weight than lose it. So, yeah, I eat poutine and cartons of chocolate milk daily, but the fact of the matter is, I'd rather be skinny and not die of a heart attack than the obvious alternative.
There's a scene in Richard Linklater's Before Sunset where Julie Delpy asks Ethan Hawke if she looks any different than she did when they met nine years earlier. He looks at her, contemplating, before telling her that she looks...thinner. Aha!, I thought. Finally some form of popular culture addresses the fact that some women actually get tinier with age without a hint of an eating disorder.
Word to the wise: it's stupid to judge those of us who have to live with the body of a teenage boy. Unless my pelvic bones are protruding from my pants and my collarbone is jamming into you on the subway, just assume that like you, I eat my daily bread.