Skinny People Who Need to Shush*

So, I mentioned Debra’s Just Maintaining to someone I know, talking about the intense exercise regiment she goes through every day to maintain her weight. She gets up at 4:30 in the morning to work out hard and fast, doing almost an hour of aerobics with 20-30 pounds of weight. (I think I actually misquoted how much she works out.) He said, “You know how else she could keep weight off? Stop eating so much.” I think my jaw may actually have dropped. If you read the blog, you know she eats 1600-2000 calories a day, carefully portioned out and strictly measured. This is the number she’s tweaked deliberately to make sure she doesn’t get so hungry that she feels the need to binge, or so full that her body has a chance to create fat stores. She describes it as “spend[ing] the day ice skating on a single blade at the edge of hunger.” Stop eating “so much” indeed.

But this guy is naturally very thin. He’s one of those people that it’s easy to be jealous of if you’re not happy with your own body, because he’s built like a runner and yet seems to eat everything in sight. It’s easy to assume sometimes that your body works the way everyone else’s does, that if you can eat 2500 or 2800 calories in a day and be skinny, that a fat person must eat much more than that. If he spends an afternoon at my house and drinks two full-sugar sodas, he probably thinks I drink four or five a day. (I might drink one in a day, and only if I’ve run out of diet, or at least caffeine-free diet like Sierra Mist or Slice.)

This is why when people honestly describe what they eat, they aren’t believed. The doctor or nutritionist or random internet know-it-all may be judging based on their own body, not realizing or accepting that bodies are different. The people preaching “calories in, calories out” ignore a zillion variables to make that seem like a simple equation. How many calories does your body actually wring out of the food it takes in? What’s your body temperature and energy level? And at what point does your body go into a panicked starvation state and start burning muscle for energy? It’s not anywhere near as simple as it looks.

*This is not in any way meant to rag on skinny people in general, just on a particular behavior I’ve seen from some people.


11 thoughts on “Skinny People Who Need to Shush*

  1. To be honest, I used to think just like that guy, and I probably still would if I had not discovered certain facts and ideas pointed out by people of size acceptance. I am also just like him as in the one who eats everything in sight and still stays thin. I can’t really blame him all that much, because in his world, that is reality. That is all he has known in life. He’s probably never really witnessed those who ate no more than him yet still gained pound after pound. Or if he did, he didn’t recognize that was what was going on. It’s not his job to pay attention to what others’ bodies are doing, although I think it helps to be educated that some bodies are like that. Like I said, I would still think that way if I had not accidentally stumbled across fat acceptance one day a few years ago, because nowhere else in the world does the idea that some people gain weight no matter what get much attention.

    But I can totally understand your frustration.

    • KellyK says:

      You have a really good point that it’s not his job to know how other people’s bodies work and that the things he says make sense based on his experience of reality. I do think that if someone is going to pontificate about what other people should be doing, it is their job to understand that their experience isn’t universal, starting with not jumping to conclusions.

  2. Regina T says:

    Your friend’s reaction/belief is exactly why most of society thinks all us fatties are just gluttons with no self control. If he bothered to look beyond the surface (and his own privilege) he could see that no two bodies function in exactly the same way. Add to that the metabolism tweaking all that “dieting” has done to most fatties (like myself) and you are left with a body that hangs on to every single calorie it consumes out of fear of famine. But that’s pure science….and not to be believed over one’s own personal experiences! *gag*
    I hope you educated him on the facts of life regarding fatties. He needs to look beyond the length of his own nose.

    • KellyK says:

      Yep. I’d wager money that I would be less fat now if I’d never dieted. (I’d also be less fat if doctors had treated my hypothyroid when I was first showing symptoms, rather than waiting for a 60-pound weight gain, but that’s a whole different rant.)

  3. Linda says:

    I’m betting your friend with the big mouth is nowhere near his 40s. My brother was skinny with a big mouth, too, until his metabolism slowed down. Middle age will shut his big mouth.

  4. wriggles says:

    If he has noticed he doesn’t have anorexia, then he has noticed the bankrputcy of his basis of judgement.

    Thin people’s reality undermines the application of calories in/out as much as fat people’s.

    • KellyK says:

      Good point. I think one of the things that complicates it is that he’s also super-active, so it makes it easy to rationalize that he’s just burning all those calories with wonderful virtuous exercise. (Never mind that a fast metabolism makes it easier to be active because you have lots of energy.)

      I would be curious to find out how many calories he eats in a day, versus what he,in theory, burns, to see if the math works.

      • SunflowerP says:

        My guess – and this was what I thought just from reading the post, as I picked my own jaw up off the floor – is that he hasn’t got the remotest clue how many calories he eats, that to him, 2000/day sounds like a lot because that’s, like, thousands, right?

        Or maybe I’m trying too hard to read (something vaguely resembling) logic into it.


  5. angrygrayrainbows says:

    Well, you know, I have green eyes and if all you brown/blue/gray eyed people would just TRY HARDER then you’d have green eyes too. Sheesh… the nerve of people who don’t have green eyes! Lazy, sub-human scum!

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