I realize I am (as usual) late to the conversation, but this has been swimming around in my head for years and the recent paleosphere’s discussion on body image made me need to attempt to write it down.
I am the old skinny (skinny); I am not the new skinny (strong).
I will start this post by saying I am a little down on myself right now because it has been months since I have worked out with any regularity. Thin people can have body image struggles too.
I have always been skinny. It’s certainly genetic in my case; my sister, mom, dad, and grandparents are all thin. I know many people come to eat clean because they are struggling with weight, so my perspective is a little different.
I came to paleo from Crossfit. I am not good at Crossfit. In fact, I am not a good athlete in general. I am mediocre at several things (climbing, swimming, horseback riding) and horrible at the rest (in particular, anything that requires coordination and/or flexibility). When we moved to Flagstaff and joined the Crossfit here after several months off, it was a strange experience. On one hand, it was great to challenge myself. I worked so hard at it. I achieved several “firsts”: handstand, pull up, double under. On the other hand, I was a weak, skinny girl in a gym full of people stronger than me. I never got that warm, fuzzy, family feeling like I had felt at Oregon Crossfit (where I moved from). When it came time to team up for a workout, I was always left standing alone, and would have to have the coach count for me. Then there were the awkward before and after class times, when I tried and failed to smile and make conversation. I can’t speak for the people there as to why they didn’t include me, maybe I am a giant asshole in person, but I always felt like it was because I was the old skinny in a gym full of strong girls. I rarely put more than 5-10 pounds on my bar, not because I didn’t want to get big- I would love to be big and strong- but because that was my max weight without hurting myself. I was always the lightest weight on the board, and frequently the slowest time. In fact, I would often lift just the bar, and when it came to the gymnastics, I was an awkward mess.
I guess I am just trying to get another perspective out there. “Strong” is not an option for me. I will never be what most people consider strong. I hope to be healthy. This is particularly relevant to me right now. I haven’t worked out in a gym since July, because that is when I got sick. Even once I was feeling better, I couldn’t afford to go back to Crossfit. Now, with TDL almost done with school, I may have the opportunity to join again. So I am getting ready to confront the old skinny again.
I really wish we could all just have the goal of having fun, being healthy, and working toward our own individual goals. I really wish it didn’t have to be about superficial things, like being skinny or strong. But I guess that wouldn’t make a very interesting T-shirt.
**UPDATE: This is not a blog about Crossfit. This is a forum for me to blather about my feelings. Obviously I need to make a couple clarifications, because not everyone understood what I was trying to say:
1. This is NOT an attack on Crossfit Flagstaff (CFF). As the grown-up version of a kid who was always picked last (and picked on) and never made the team, I am a bit sensitive in athletic settings. I certainly was an outsider at CFF, but I do not blame anyone there for that. I was just stating how it made me feel. CFF is filled with great people.
2. If a girl who spent her life wanting to be thin because the media, etc. told her that was the way a woman should look came out with a blog post that said, “I will never be skinny, I hope to be healthy,” that would be applauded. When I do the exact same thing (I always wanted to be strong and athletic and say in my post, “I will never be what most people consider to be strong. I hope to be healthy.”) it is perceived as sad. Why? I wanted to add in my view because we never hear from the skinny, un-athletic people in this body image discussion and, when it comes down to it, we all are going through the same thing. If you read the majority of the comments, they are from people who get it, who understand that I hoped to unify, not whine, in this post.
3. I am strong in my own ways. I know that. Shit, I started by talking about all the accomplishes I made during my time at CFF. Crossfit made me mentally stronger, made me able to look the flinch in the eyes and flip it off. I love my body. But there are always buts. We all have these moments where we wish we were stronger, bigger, faster, prettier, thinner, smarter, whatever. I just wanted to reiterate that we ALL have those feelings, no matter how skinny, strong, fast, whatever we actually are.
4. The problem with writing a blog post is that it is left open to interpretation. I can see how this was misinterpreted and for that I am sorry. Maybe my next post will be “I am a bad writer.” I am kidding.
5. Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope this contributed in some way to the conversation, rather than detracting from it. In real life, I am a goofy, dorky, happy, skinny chick who just wants to enjoy life and I am sorry that I may have portrayed myself as otherwise. I love you all.
(I did a follow up post here.)