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Calling someone 'skinny' is not a compliment
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There are many endearing names or adjectives to describe a person.

"Skinny" is not one of them.

This is not a new realization, but its one I have given a lot of thought to over the years.

Skinny is what I wanted to be when I was a 12-year-old girl, having had my first roll of belly fat pointed out by one of the popular girls at school while I was changing for gym class. I remember checking calories on the cereal boxes, meticulously measuring out each bowl to make sure I was getting the right serving size for the calories consumed.

I was focused not on health, but on a body image one that was unhealthy.

Thankfully, that phase didnt last long and I found myself chasing after something else: being healthy and strong. Its a focus that has driven me for the past 20 years.

This focus earned me a college athletic scholarship, brought me running distances and earned me times I never thought possible. Even more importantly, this strong body that I have worked so hard for has carried and delivered six babies and is well on its way to completing that task for a seventh time.

Even so, oftentimes when I walk into a room or meet an old friend or a new one, for that matter the word "skinny" (or another like word or phrase) is used to describe me:

Look, we saved you and your husband the piano bench to share because your behinds are so skinny.

Dont even bother asking her if she wants dessert look at her.

Do you ever eat?

You are so tiny.

Quit making us look bad.

And forget about it going away when Im pregnant.

Can you even fit a baby in there?

Your belly button is poking out; you need some fat to cover that.

You know, your baby needs to eat, too.

Comments like these have been made in front of my children. And Im sure people think thats OK, because to them, what they are saying is a compliment.

But its not.

I do not want my children to think that having a skinny body is an ideal way of being. I dont want them to see Mom crack a smile or accept a compliment like this in an effort to be polite thus distorting their thinking even more.

I want my kids to know that skinny doesnt always equate with healthy that many people are healthy without being skinny, and many people are skinny without being healthy. I want them to understand what it means to have a healthy body image.

If you meet someone who looks like he or she may have lost a healthy amount of weight, or who seems to be maintaining a fit lifestyle that is reflective in his or her appearance, please choose your words carefully, should you choose to say anything.

Youre looking nice, as usual.

I heard you were going to the gym. How is that going? You look great!

Or better yet: Its so good to see you. Its been a while. You sure look happy.

There are so many nice words to say to people. Skinny is not one of them.
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