There are a lot of articles on Medium that detail what it is like to be overweight.
Shannon Ashley posts a number of insightful stories on this subject and so do a lot of other writers. I think it’s great that a lot of writers are willing to talk about their struggles with their weight.
It’s often a sensitive subject and one we shouldn’t be afraid of opening up about. This is why I wanted to talk about the issues I had with my weight growing up. Only, those issues weren’t to do with me being overweight, they were related to me being underweight.
This is a subject that doesn’t get as much coverage as being overweight. I guess there are a number of reasons for this. A lot of people would prefer to be skinny than fat. Being overweight is more stigmatised than being underweight.
For some people, being skinny is an ideal, a goal they want to reach. For me, it was a sentence I couldn’t escape. No matter what I did, what I achieved, I would always be known as the skinny kid. This was emphasised by my nickname at school, ‘Bones.’
This is a nickname I still have today among my remaining friends from high school. As long as I remain in my hometown, I will always be called by this name.
Being skinny is something that has followed me throughout my life. No matter that I regularly go to the gym now, have packed on a lot more muscle and no longer look like I’ve skipped a few meals, I still feel like the skinny kid in school.
What happens in your formative years stays with you as you grow up. It affects how you see yourself, others, and the world around you.
The first time I was alerted to my weight was when I was twelve in high school. The first year of high school, no one had seemed to notice, and neither had I, that I was thin.
I just remember being with friends and it was something that was never brought up. All of that changed as I went into the second year of high school. For whatever reason, people noticed that I was skinny.
High schools can be a brutal place, and this is especially true in England, taking the piss out of each other is a national past-time! However, when it’s done at school it’s always more visceral and real. I put this down to being young, and not possessing the necessary mechanisms to deal with ‘banter,’ that I do now.
From this point on, I would be reminded about my weight most days. Most times this would be when someone called me Bones, but there were occasions when the comments would be more hurtful in nature.
I remember one episode when we were in school, and our initials were written on the whiteboard for reasons I can’t remember. One of my friends turned to me and said “T. S. I know what that stands for, Too Skinny!”
Cue laughter from those around me, while I’m trying my best to save face and not show how much this constant sniping about my weight was getting to me.
This bottling up of emotion was a common occurrence. I hardly ever let the mask slip to let people know that these kinds of comments affected me. There were a few times it happened. I remember launching myself across a table to swing at a classmate after he said something, but these lapses were rare.
For the most part, I was able to keep a straight face or brush it off. While I would be raging inside.
The worst part of being skinny during my teenage years was that I felt so hopeless. I thought I was doomed to be skinny forever. I would try to eat more food to put on weight, but it never worked.
I tried doing pushups, sit-ups, anything that would make me look less skinny, but none of it worked. I wanted instant results, and when I didn’t get them I gave up.
I was one of those kids who were so skinny, you could see their heart beating through their chest! It was terrible. Whatever confidence and self-esteem I had built up during my initial years, was washed away in the face of my anxiety about my weight.
Whether I liked it or not, and whether I wanted it to be or not, being skinny had become my identity. I never asked for any of it, but here I was, beholden to my body and the unwanted identity it gave me.
Even though I no longer look skinny anymore, I still feel like that same skinny kid inside. I’m not sure I will ever feel any different. The events in your childhood are the baggage that you take with you in adulthood.
I may have faced them, but somewhere inside the skinny kid is still there. Gaining weight and keeping fit and healthy became such a part of my life because of what I experienced at school.
I was determined to put on weight and not be the skinny kid anymore. The motivation inside me was like no other. Maybe, if I hadn’t been so skinny, I would have not had that fire inside of me? Who knows!
I had to rebuild myself from the ground up. I was terrible at meeting new people when I was younger. I always felt like people would never notice me. I was the skinny guy in the background, people didn’t want to bother with me was what I thought.
I would always wait until someone introduced themselves to me, I would never introduce myself first. I felt worthless as if being underweight made me less of a person.
This was only worsened when it came to the opposite sex. I had no confidence with women whatsoever. I wouldn’t even bother to approach women or strike up a conversation, because, why would they want to speak to the skinny guy?
This followed me for a number of years before I got into the gym and gave myself some much-needed confidence. However, there are still moments when I get those old feelings when I meet women. There are times when I doubt whether they would want to speak to me and I revert to type.
I have to remind myself I’m not that person anymore and push those thoughts away. It may have been a number of years since I was painfully thin, but the feeling of it will always remain with me.
If I had to summarise what it was like to grow up skinny, I would say that it was uncomfortable. I was always reminded of my weight, it affected me socially and mentally, and I still bear those scars today.
Weight issues can really mess you up when you are younger. Whether it’s being overweight or underweight, you’re just too young to understand that things won’t always be like this. You can change your situation.
I felt hopeless when I was younger. I saw no way out of my situation. I thought I was destined to be skinny forever.
When you are younger, it is hard to see past the immediate future and realise that what happens at school is a small part of our lives. I thought that being skinny and being teased for being so, would always be a part of my life.
I felt trapped in an endless cycle of pity and hopelessness. I thought growing up skinny would mean I was always going to be skinny. I had taken all the jibes and comments to heart. I was destined to be skinny forever.
I didn’t realise I had the power to change my life and do something about it.