Lately, something has been on my mind that's been bothering me... it wasn't until today that the light bulb finally went off in my head and I figured out what the bother really was.
A few weeks ago I got together for dinner with one of my really good friends. We were just catching up and getting re-acquainted after not seeing each other for a month or two. Thankfully, we have the type of friendship where this just comes natural so it really didn't take long at all, and we can also be honest right away if something is bothering us. It's almost as if we have a sister-like relationship. It was while we were sitting there chatting and munching on some appetizers that something surprising happened. My friend called me skinny. The thing that was surprising to me wasn't so much that she called me skinny, as I know she intended for it to be a compliment. What caught me off guard was my own reaction to that comment and my inability to take it as a compliment. I just didn't know what to say... it felt odd to me, but I couldn't put my finger on why.
I reacted in a way that a bratty sister would, rather than a way that a friend being told a compliment would. I'm always one to preach "just say thank you" when you are told a compliment. In this moment I couldn't say thanks. I was "that girl" who was saying "Stop it. I am not skinny. You should see the junk I ate over the holidays." Eventually I was honest with her and said that being called skinny felt odd and made me a little uncomfortable. All in all, it was just a strange moment and we moved on to different topics in our conversation.
That night I came home and told my fiance about our conversation and pondered out loud why it just struck me as uncomfortable to be called skinny. I was just stuck on figuring out why I couldn't take the compliment. As confused as I was, my fiance was even more bewildered, saying "Boy, I'm glad I'm not a girl. I do NOT get it."
When he said that I laughed and thought to myself... "I know... I don't get it either."
It wasn't until today, weeks later, that I figured out why I couldn't say thanks, and why I felt odd. To be honest, it's because being skinny isn't the goal I have when I think about working out, eating healthy and being active. It isn't what I'm striving for, so when I was told that, it didn't feel complimentary. Above that, it is never my intent on this blog or in anything I share that I want to promote being skinny over feeling good.
I figured out it was a sudden sense of fear that I felt that made it impossible for me to graciously take something that was meant to be a compliment. It's not that I don't like to hear those things, but in a world where all we are are images of fit, thin people as the image to aspire for I became afraid that was the message I was putting out there myself. I was fearful that being called skinny made it seem as though that was what I valued when I encourage people to make exercise a consistent action, and to put healthy foods in their bodies.
Sure, it feels great to feel really good in the skin I'm in and to have clothes fit decently. But my hope is that the messaging I put out there goes deeper than that. Why can't compliments be more along the lines of "You look like you're feeling great"? Because isn't that what we are all really striving for anyway? To that I would confidently say "I am! Thank you!" in a heartbeat.