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The Stigma of Being Naturally Skinny


The Stigma of Being Naturally Skinny

By Craig Nielson

Certified Professional Life Coach


Why is it okay to say "start eating" to those who are thin and not okay to "stop eating" to those who are obese?  There are varying opinions being communicated to those who are naturally skinny when it comes to what they eat.  What is being said is drastically different between men and women and none of which is being said has anything to do with promoting good health.

For men who are naturally thin we are used to hearing things like "you need to eat more, and eat something that sticks to your ribs (not to mention your arteries).  I say we because I too have heard all my life the judgments of others related to my  diet.  I have always been naturally thin.  This did not bode well for me when I was young as I was often ridiculed for being the skinny kid.

I ate.  Yes, it was not uncommon for me to eat a large pizza all in one sitting.  Cheese burgers, fries, sweets, you name it.  I could eat anything and not gain a pound.  I lifted weights.  It just made me hungrier and I was still thin, just now with well defined muscles.  Frustrated, I went to my doctor to see if he could reveal to me why I could not gain weight.  I was told "You just have a very high metabolism.  You are not unhealthy, and just be glad you can eat whatever you want and not have to get fat."

For women it is very different.  Women I have worked with who are naturally thin have told me they are at times envied.  It's okay to be thin, in fact, it is most desired for women when it comes to public opinion.  However these women also have their share of judgments.  Some have told me they have been suspected of having an eating disorder because "nobody who eats the way you do could possibly be that thin."

One woman I spoke to who is naturally thin shared this experience with me. She was out to dinner with friends and was being cautious about what she ordered.  Not because she was concerned about gaining weight, but because she wanted to eat healthy.  One of her friends commented "you don't need to be so picky about what you eat, it's not like you have anything to worry about, and gaining a couple of pounds certainly won't hurt you."  She informed her friend that she chooses to maintain and healthy diet.  Not in the sense that she restricts herself from eating certain things, but because eating healthy gives her more energy and she feels good.

For those who are naturally thin  with a high metabolism eating junk food and other foods high in saturated fat will do little to put weight on.  Many consider us lucky in that regard.  But are we?  Sure we can eat anything without becoming overweight, but we can't just eat anything we want without consequences.  We still have the risk of heart disease, hardening of arteries and other ill effects of having an unhealthy diet.

I found later in life that my thin physique was perfect for distance running.  Today I like to run marathons.  I've found my body performs better, I have far more endurance, and I enjoy running when I make healthy choices in what I eat.  When I indulge in unhealthy eating I find my body does not perform as well and running feels more like work instead of something I enjoy.

Skinny people get told to go ahead and eat unhealthy foods, you can afford it.  Overweight people get told not to eat unhealthy foods because they will die of a heart attack.  I believe the message we should be telling the thin and the overweight alike is healthy.