Yesterday I logged onto Facebook and saw a status update that kind of surprised me, so I did what I always do, I went to twitter to overshare.
Admittedly, it was not my greatest moment on twitter. Within a few moments, I had a reply.
I’m not going to lie, my first inclination was irritation. I pride myself in being relatively PC and inoffensive and I was surprised that someone had taken offense.
The tweet wasn’t meant to be mean, it was just meant to relay a story that I found upsetting. I will be the first to admit that, as I’m sure was evident, there was some jealousy buried in the tweet. While she’s fitting into skinny jeans that I doubt I could fit one of my thighs into, I ate a record 4 pieces of pizza the night before. I am unquestionably jealous of her self-control.
But despite the green eyed monster penning my tweet, I really, truly, didn’t have any ill will in writing it. I wasn’t trying to call her a name nor did I even realize that my words would be considered a pejorative, I was just oversharing the way I normally do.
My use of the description that she was “impossibly thin” wasn’t meant as an insult, I was trying to frame the story. I felt like the difference between a very thin girl being excited about losing weight and fitting into skinny jeans was a bit different than someone who is an average size or larger doing the same thing. And she is very thin. I used those words, admittedly thoughtlessly, as a way to frame the story.
But not with malice. Not with a desire to be unkind.
I see now how it didn’t come across that way. I read something Ali wrote last week discussing this topic from the perspective of a thin person losing weight. And I nodded, because I’ve been there and there are few things as frustrating as people telling you to eat more and putting you down instead of being excited for your improved health. But I’ve also been on the extreme of it. I’ve been too thin while still losing weight. I’ve rejoiced in fitting into skinny jeans that represented an unsafe weight loss for me.
And that’s my worry for this classmate. I hear her talk about eating healthily and I see her lunches and I cannot help but be reminded of my own past disordered eating. And I have a hard time celebrating her losing more weight because of it.
But my motives and my defense are sort of irrelevant right now, because I wrote those words. They are mine, they came from my fingertips and they were offensive to others. As someone who has never called another person a name because of their weight or appearance, I feel sort of sucker punched that I did that today without even realizing it.
I had never considered it before but now I’m left seriously wondering, is calling someone “impossibly thin” the same as “impossibly fat”?
Katie is a 28 year old Southern Californian, married to a doctor, racking up as much student debt as possible as a full-time graduate student in a health science. Her hobbies include abusing parentheses, baking complicated desserts that almost universally involve frosting and loving her two cats more than is socially acceptable. She’s currently balancing her first child and graduating from graduate school. So planning and timing are also things she excels at. You can read more from Katie on her blog, Overflowing Brain.