“Gosia, you’re really pretty but you need to put some weight on.”
“You’re shaped like a twig.”
“How are you so skinny? Is there something wrong with you?”
The above were all things said to me when I was growing up. I’ve always been the smallest in my class and not just in regards to weight, either. I’ve always just been a little person and every aspect of me has always been small; my hands, my head, my feet, everything. It made me stand out. I would notice kids my age at the time would go home from school to watch TV with chips and chicken nuggets on their dinner plates. I would go home to a home cooked meal and head out for gymnastics practice. I was always an active kid and I loved my vegetables unlike most. On top of this, I also had a fast metabolism which meant I never really put weight on anyway. It was just the way I was, and as a kid you don’t take weight much into account, unless someone mentions it.
PHOTOGRAPHER: ANNA FELICIA
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I would say I was bullied for my weight, or skinny shamed if you will. I never understood why it was okay for other people to call me skinny in a negative way, I always thought I was healthy until a visit to the doctors regarding something else completely, confirmed I didn’t weigh enough for my height, but it was never anything to worry about, I was told. When it came to writing my Health & Social coursework for my GCSEs we were supposed to write a case study on ourselves. The BMI result I got was ‘severely underweight’, I quickly changed this by upping my weight a little so ‘severe’ wouldn’t come up on my report. I still didn’t understand this as I ate normally and never had a problem with my eating habits, I exercised five times a week so I guess I burned everything off but all of this was healthy, so why was I constantly told to put weight on? My mates would often call me out on being ‘so skinny’ and I always felt inadequate next to them because I was just a straight line compared to the curves that they had. I would cry myself to sleep weeks on end because I hated the way I looked and I decided to eat more even though my stomach couldn’t take it. It never worked, and because weight is a hard thing to alter, I just left it.
Fast forward to my late teenage years (16-18), I would say I was in good shape as puberty was catching up to me. Everyone was asking for my exercise routine even though I didn’t have one. I was a UK size 4 and I had finally felt confident with my body in a very long time as I thought now I was the ‘pretty skinny’ rather than the ‘too skinny’. Wearing short skirts and crop tops had never felt so good. But it couldn’t last forever. I moved out when I was 18 which meant I was finally free to eat what I want and when I want, I noticed some weight gain as my jeans felt a bit tighter but didn’t really care. It wasn’t until a recent high school reunion that people pointed out that I’ve gained weight. I took it as a compliment as everyone assured me they meant it in a nice way, that I look more ‘womanly’ now, whatever that means. Nevertheless, this was stuck in the back of my mind for months. I had noticed that I haven’t weighed myself in a year or so, I stepped on the scales to find out I had gained 3kg in a year. I don’t know why but this absolutely broke me. It was a lot for me, mostly because I had never experienced weight gain in my life before.
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I spent months and months feeling sorry for myself and I became very aware of everything that I thought was wrong with my body. I would hide it with baggy clothes for a while, I just really wasn’t comfortable with being bigger than I had always been, because after all I was always known for being the skinny girl, and losing that also felt like I lost a part of my identity. The only thing I didn’t mention in the previous paragraph is that during the period of being aged 16-18, I was also severely depressed. I was eating a meal a day (if that), I was smoking, I slept until 3pm and overall it just wasn’t a pretty image to look at. It wasn’t healthy and it took me digging up old photos to realise that I wasn’t even happy back then, and neither was my body even though it may have looked it. My diet isn’t very good at the moment, either, but at least I’m eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and trying to feed my body the good stuff that it needs. I am currently in the process of accepting my new body and I’ve banned myself from looking at the explore page on Instagram (but that’s a whole other blog post).
Weight is such a tricky thing, but we each have our own, and as long as we are healthy it shouldn’t matter if we’re a size four or eighteen.
Thank you for reading,
Gosia Joanna x