The comment that got me thinking

On July 4, I woke up, checked my phone and read a comment on my When The Dress Fits… post that felt like a punch in the stomach.  I almost responded via email right then, but I know myself and I know I need time to process my thoughts and brood. I would have haphazardly gotten some of my thoughts out but not all, then wished I took a different approach. So, I waited. I alternated between thinking about what I’d say in response and trying not think about it at all. I’m glad I waited because as the week went on, I kept thinking of more I wanted to say in response — especially because if one person comments it, others might be thinking it.

I found a lot of things troubling about this comment, and as the days went on I kept thinking of more. The best way to get out all my thoughts is separating my points about the commenter’s assumptions into sections:

You don’t have to be “fat” to feel uncomfortable in your skin
I have a small frame. I never say things like, “OMG I am so fat.” No. I know what I look like. I know that what I see when I look in the mirror is not the same as what you likely see, but I know that when it comes down to it I am thin.

I’ve gone through a few stages where I wasn’t “tiny thin” as the commenter describes. In college I was a good 20 pounds heavier. Once I graduated and ate like a normal person again (by normal person I mean person who doesn’t eat four dinners in one night) I lost the weight.

But that’s not even what I tend to think about when I think about being uncomfortable with myself. I think about the time in 2008 when a salesgirl called me thick.

I can’t even begin to describe the pain her words caused for me. At the time I was in the midst of my GI illness with absolutely no idea how to manage it. I was a very healthy eater for a few years by then,  so I didn’t know what to do when I gained weight, was constantly bloated and inflamed, none of my clothes fit anymore and I felt uncomfortable. That is the best word to describe it. I was uncomfortable ALL THE TIME.  Every weekend I stayed in pajamas in bed because I couldn’t deal with getting dressed and seeing myself. I didn’t want to put on more sweatpants or think about all the jeans that didn’t fit.

It’s hard enough to feel that way and feel so powerless to change it, and an outside source adding fuel to the fire by calling me thick destroyed me.

A couple of years later I got myself into a much healthier place, cleaned up my eating and grew to love effective exercise and really turned my life around from that immensely difficult and depressing time.

And even now, when I had a better handle on everything and was loving working out and all the positive changes I felt and saw, I still have times where I feel uncomfortable. I don’t tend to voice these feelings because of comments just like this. For some reason there is this idea that smaller people don’t have the right to admit they aren’t happy with their bodies.

I hear all the time “Oh you’re so skinny, you can eat as many of those [brownies/cookies/pretzel croissants] as you want!” No. I am in good shape because I work hard at it, because I want to be in great shape. While I eat all the foods I just mentioned, I definitely can’t “eat as many as I want” any more than the next person can! I gain weight or inches just like everyone else. I happen to be on the small side, but when I gain, I feel uncomfortable just like anyone else.

So, while I do have a small frame, I have the same struggles as anyone else at any size. Being small doesn’t mean being fit comes easily for me. I’m not in good shape because I am “tiny thin,” I’m in good shape because I work really hard at it.  Erica Sara wrote a very eloquent post about this same thing last year, saying, “People seem to think that because I’m thin, I don’t have feelings.”

Exactly. That comment was mean-spirited; she very easily could have phrased the same point in a different light, but that’s not what she was going for here.

Why does being thin make my gain any less significant than someone else’s?
I don’t actually know how much I gained last year. I don’t own a scale and I don’t measure myself. It is easy to assume that because I am relatively thin that I only gained “an inch,” but my guess is that it was a bit more than that because of the whole not fitting into my clothes thing. That said, even if it is just an inch, why does it matter? What does it matter to anyone else if I want to fit back into my clothes?

It’s not easier (financially) for me to buy a new dress than to exercise
While I focused on the actual dress in my post because it had a lot of meaning for me — I treated myself to an expensive thing I don’t normally buy, I wore it on my first day at my job — the dress itself wasn’t the only clothing issue I had. The problem was almost ALL of my clothes. My jeans didn’t fit, my workout pants felt uncomfortable, my workout tops pulled too much, my skirts didn’t fit and neither did some of my other dresses.

So while I certainly can’t afford to buy a new $300 dress that was a treat to myself every time I gain or lose weight, I REALLY can’t afford to replace my entire wardrobe every time either. I don’t know anyone who can, and I have a hard time believing the commenter can either. And I don’t know why anyone would. It makes no sense, especially when I know it’s not that hard for me to get back into shape.

And if I’m going that route and just buying new clothes but not getting back into shape, what happens when I gain even more than the “inch”? Buy another new wardrobe? And then when my health sucks because I’m in bad shape and I can’t afford my medical bills, what then?

It’s not easier (mentally) for me to buy a new dress than to exercise
Hate to burst the commenter’s bubble, but I hate shopping and I love Refine. It actually IS easier for me to take Refine for an hour than to shop for an hour.

The dress was the vehicle; it was not the point
I only wrote about the dress at all because I was pleasantly surprised when it fit. I usually blog on Tuesdays, and I usually know what I will write about ahead of time. I wrote that post on a Friday afternoon on a whim because I realized the significance of my hard work. I wasn’t tracking or counting or doing anything I wouldn’t normally do. My sister-in-law explained it well when she said the dress was a writing tool for me to express the way I feel about exercise (specifically Refine) and how it relates specifically to me in this one time period. The dress was not the point of my taking Refine classes.

If I make Refine sound like “beating myself up” on this blog, it reflects a weakness in my writing
The point of my post was to demonstrate that beginning ANY fitness routine is extremely difficult, and that like anyone else first starting out, I too wanted to quit.

Even though I just ran a marathon and took Refine for a year before that, it was just as hard for me starting over as for people who never exercised before. But when you stick with it, it gets easier! You improve quickly, you get stronger. I was struggling at Refine for about a month, as I mentioned in the post, before I began to feel strong again.

Once I got past that initial month where the class was more difficult, I fell right back into my groove and was in love with the class once again. I went from being nervous about the classes to craving them, looking forward to them.

My intentions with that blog post was to show that beginning an exercise regime is hard, but it gets better and you can achieve your goals. I never meant for it to seem like I was miserable or like I was beating myself up for months just to lose an inch. If that’s how it came across, then that means I’m not as effective a writer as I’d like to be.

I’ve taken classes that DID feel like beating myself up and while a class like that can also be an excellent workout, I don’t return if I feel that way. I don’t see a need for me, or anyone, to beat themselves up to lose an inch. I don’t do workouts that make me miserable; I work out to feel happy.

I would have taken Refine classes this entire time even if my dress did fit
If I still fit into all my clothes, I still would have started back up with Refine in exactly the same way. I didn’t go back to the class to lose an inch, I went back to the class because I missed it and loved it and I wanted to feel that adrenaline that I feel after every single class. I went back to the class and HAPPENED to lose whatever I gained, but that is absolutely NOT why I went back.

I adore Refine Method.  Every day I think about how thankful I am to have a workout in my life that I love so much. I try to get everyone I know to go there because I truly believe they will love it too. The other day after class, I even thought (and considered Tweeting), “I wish I could marry Refine.” That is sad on a number of levels, but yes, I love this workout.

As the Ander wrote in his post 10 Random Things You Don’t Know About Dori: “She Likes The Refine Method – As she’s written here a million times, she is a big fan of this workout. No matter how crappy she feels before, she always comes back with a big smile on her face.”

Would you choose a new dress over that?

21 comments on The comment that got me thinking

  1. Rachel Wilkerson
    July 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m sorry that that comment got under your skin so much…I HATE those.

    This reminds me of an article from a recent issue of Glamour that was all about the ways women are judged/judge each other based on their weights. Their studies show that whether you are thin or fat, you’re likely going to be judged. It was really pretty disheartening. While I can sort of understand where this commenter was coming from (stressing over gaining a few pounds seems like nothing to those struggling with gaining 30, 50, or 80 pounds), I wish that women would worry less about who has it harder and find common ground more. Because I think what you’re talking about — I gained weight and feel crappy about it, I’m bummed my favorite dress doesn’t fit, etc. — is really a universal thing. I wish our immediate reaction when we see another woman is struggling with something is to try to identify with her or try to relate, not to tell her to get over herself, but unfortunately it seems like a lot of women choose to take the latter route.
    Rachel Wilkerson´s last blog post ..Clothes-Minded Part II {+ a dress giveaway!}

    Reply
  2. Katherine
    July 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm (5 years ago)

    Dori — I love and admire this post and THANK YOU for writing it! As another small framed girl I can completely relate. It’s frustrating how when you’re “smaller” it’s no longer acceptable to mention your weight and how you feel about it with anything but admiration. Thin girls have feelings and ups and downs too!
    Katherine´s last blog post ..Getting Back on Track

    Reply
    • Katie
      July 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm (5 years ago)

      I also want to say THANK YOU! All bodies are different, there isn’t a perfect number or size that will work for everyone and its important for you to be happy and healthy, whatever that number or size is.
      Katie´s last blog post ..I made it, I ate it: Portobello Pizza

      Reply
  3. Nikki
    July 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm (5 years ago)

    Dori what a great post, when I read your article about your black dress fitting better after Refine I definitely got the message you were trying to get out there. Also very great idea to think about the message before posting about it. Hope you are keeping your head up and get to wear that dress again soon :)

    Reply
  4. Kristen
    July 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm (5 years ago)

    Great post Dori. Both your post and the comment you included about “people think that because i’m thin, i don’t have feelings.” It is really frustrating to have people treat you like it isn’t legitimate to feel weird or unhappy about your body sometimes. It is perfectly natural and when you’re used to being in good shape, you really feel the difference when you’re not as fit as usual.

    I know I struggle to talk about my feelings about my body with anyone – I feel like people treat my feelings as illegitimate…

    Thanks for getting me thinking.
    Kristen´s last blog post ..five things about me – part five

    Reply
  5. Nicole
    July 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm (5 years ago)

    I completely agree with you! I’ve always been a petite person, and I remember when I was about 14, I was in the grocery store buying something and this woman in front of me said, “Why are you buying food? You look like you don’t eat!” And I remember thinking that you would NEVER say to an overweight person, “Why aren’t you buying food? You look like you eat more than that!” or something, and it really bothered me. Just because I was tiny doesn’t mean that I’m not sensitive about my body or my feelings. That moment always stuck with me. I’m glad to read I’m not alone!
    Nicole´s last blog post ..Training Week # 2

    Reply
  6. Melissa
    July 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm (5 years ago)

    Excellently written post!

    Reply
  7. GeekGirl
    July 11, 2012 at 7:26 am (5 years ago)

    Excellent post! As someone that’s always been petite and is now facing her first significant weight gain (which others refuse to acknowledge…I’ve gained 20 lbs, people!), this post is pitch perfect. Even my own mother said I’m not allowed to discuss my weight because I’m still “tiny”.

    Reply
  8. Melissa
    July 11, 2012 at 10:47 am (5 years ago)

    I don’t think the commenter meant any harm. Sometimes people don’t realize how their words might come across or effect the person reading it. When people used to say things like “you’re tiny” to me at work, I would get upset until one day I said it bothered me and the person responded with “I meant that as a compliment! You look great, I wish I was as small as you.” Like I said, people don’t realize how their words might come across.

    I do relate to how you felt though, but try not to let it get to you. I’m sure she didn’t mean it the way it came across. How about we all stop commenting on each other’s bodies period? A girl can dream…

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth
    July 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm (5 years ago)

    Awesome post! You worded this perfectly, especially since you gave yourself time to avoid that “knee jerk” reaction. I totally agree with you…one day I counted at work the number of times I was told something along the lines of “you’re too thin”. It happened far too often, which is definitely unfair. We don’t go around telling someone “you’re way too fat” all day, so why should it be any different? You work hard for what you have accomplished, no one can take that away from you!

    Reply
  10. Stacy L.
    July 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm (5 years ago)

    This was really well thought out – very much enjoyed reading it. I really do believe that, as long as you feel balanced in every aspect of your life, you can be happy. It just sucks when readers (whether or not she meant it that way – who knows! Sometimes comments can be misconstrued) don’t quite GET what you’re saying. Or trying to say. Or take it out of context. Glad you’ve found your balance again; hopefully this post was somewhat cathartic for you.
    Stacy L.´s last blog post ..Picking Up On Portion Control and Bim-Bim-Bulgar

    Reply
  11. Mariell @ HealthyPantz
    July 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm (5 years ago)

    I love that you chose to respond to this comment directly and openly rather than avoid the tough topic or responding hastily. Fielding that snide comment totally resonates with me- only difference is that your response is spot on and I probably would not have been so eloquent. :)
    Mariell @ HealthyPantz´s last blog post ..June Foodie Penpals Reveal

    Reply
  12. Cara
    July 13, 2012 at 9:12 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you for such an eloquent post. I am in recovery from anorexia nervosa, having gained forty pounds this past year out of a hospital determined that I wanted to have a life. I used to hear comments all the time: “wow, you’re so tiny–how are you so thin!” and I wanted to answer “because I starve myself, am miserable, depressed, exercise in pain, and now have digestive issues and osteoporosis to show for it.” Now I have to deal with comments about my weight gain, which even though are made as compliments, still are hard to swallow. The one thing I know is that I am blind when it comes to what I look like.
    At my goal weight now, I am trying to learn to exercise in a gentle and fun way rather than as a punishment. I look forward to trying the reform method soon. Thank you again for your wonderful blog and rigorous honesty!

    Reply
  13. Amber
    July 16, 2012 at 8:53 am (5 years ago)

    Some people just don’t get it. This was such a great response and I am sure it was very therapeutic to write!

    Reply
  14. Helen
    July 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm (5 years ago)

    Great post, and you look fab in both dresses by the way :)

    It was clear the post wasn’t about the dress but discussing issues we all feel whether we are size 0 or size 10. I am currently in that place right now and it ain’t fun!

    Love your blog and your style :)

    Reply
  15. Jacqueline
    July 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm (5 years ago)

    This post was amazing! I feel the same way as you and I always try to tell this to people. I remember when I no longer fit in to my FAVORITE Victoria Beckham Rock and Republic jeans (also with a hefty price tag). I was so upset and a lot of my friends said, so what? You are still way thinner than me. Except that’s not really the issue and it does matter to me. I ended up losing the weight I gained and now I am back in to my jeans and sooo happy because I definitely cannot just buy $400 jeans every time I gain 5lbs!
    Thanks again :)

    Reply
  16. sara @ real fun food
    August 1, 2012 at 5:00 am (5 years ago)

    I love this post. I’ve always had people say to me, “Oh you’re SO thin, you don’t need to worry! You can eat anything you want!” No, I look like this because I have a healthy lifestyle and I don’t pig out constantly. Sure, I eat candy bars and chips like everyone else … but in moderation. When I start eating it all the time, I gain weight. A lot of weight! But it’s not the weight that matters. I feel bad. I feel sicker, slower and more tired. I agree with what the first commenter said about finding common ground rather than judging each other. Totally agree!

    Reply
  17. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets
    August 21, 2012 at 6:39 am (5 years ago)

    People can be idiots and haters, for no better reason than their jealous or insecure. Of course it’s easier to assume thin individuals are just lucky and have it come naturally, as opposed to being something they work for all the time. It’s easier to blame good genetics than give thin girls credit for hard work because it would mean we could all do it, if we were willing to work hard enough for it. Don’t let her nasty comment bring you down.

    Reply
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