Okay, I’ve held my tongue for the majority of this month, but something is eating away at me… literally. It seems that we could be approaching a state of becoming better educated about healthy, sustainable ways to lose weight than we’ve been for a long time. Yeah there will always be the crash diets, juice-only detoxes, zero-carb diets, but I think the word may be starting to spread that you don’t have to starve to lose weight. I say starting, we’ve got a long way to go.
Yet, as a nation, we seem to still be obsessed with the word ‘skinny'.
Think about it for a second, and what does it conjure up in your mind? I guarantee no two peoples' views from their mind's eye would marry up exactly. Some of us think about particular parts of the body, whereas some will think about an overall picture.
Last week (and I realise I could be dangerously behind the curve on this one) I discovered the Skinny Bitch Collective; an exclusive, elite fitness community claiming to change female perception about food & training. The reality is, they’re using this horribly subjective ‘swear’ word in their proposition. Nope, not bitch - I’m not bothered about that. It’s the ‘Skinny’ that has rattled my cage. *shudders*. The sad bit is, their community seems quite cool. They seem to be promoting a healthy, active lifestyle where food is fuel. So what’s with the skinny?
Skinny jeans, having a skinny day (whatever that actually is!), skinny latte, skinny minnie… you get the picture - there’s an onslaught of skinnies attacking us every day. So why I am so offended by it?
If you look up skinny in a thesaurus, here are some of the alternative words it serves up; gaunt, lanky, scrawny, fleshless (yikes), bony…. doesn’t paint a pretty picture, does it? I wonder what happened in our societies that this altogether quite negative word became something so many strive for.
I’ve led a lifetime of being referred to as ‘skinny' and it terrifies me to think that I would’ve once felt very happy being compared to a person who is lanky or gaunt. Now, it’s almost an insult.
Personally, I’m on a journey of weight gain - I wouldn’t say I’m trying to become ‘un-skinny'. I’m trying to build some lean muscle, and up my bodyweight by about 10% overall. Looking ‘skinny’ couldn’t be further from what I’m trying to achieve. Lean, fit & strong would be bang on the money. I guarantee I’ll still get called skinny.
The cover of Good Housekeeping this month boasts the story splash ‘Switch on your Skinny Gene’, in reference to weight loss. It’s no wonder we’re just conditioned to believe that skinny = good. It’s everywhere and is always used in a positive, if not a completely aspirational context.
Let’s not forget, ‘skinny’ doesn't mean healthy. Skinny doesn’t mean fit. Skinny doesn’t mean strong. Skinny doesn’t even mean that you won’t suffer with high cholesterol, or that you could just run a marathon whenever you liked.
If the word ‘skinny' was banned from being used ever again, by anyone, we wouldn’t miss it. We’d hopefully take stock and think about what we really mean.