In a society were body image is more important than ever thanks to the expectation of the media and the development of social media; being naturally thin you would think would be a breeze. Think again, it’s not. In fact on most days it’s absolutely awful.
I’m 5’9 and a UK size 10. I weigh between 9 and a half to 10 stone. I have never been on a diet in my life, not even after my pregnancy. I would never replace chips with salad and I will always order dessert, even better if it’s chocolate.
Yet, I feel awful about myself most days. I probably could wear fitted clothes, short skirts, low cut tops and look good. I don’t. I feel too self- conscious to show myself off like that. I hide in jeans and hoodies: at work I wear wide leg trousers and scoop neck or round neck tops. I don’t want the comments that come with it.
Nearly every day I sit in the staff room at lunchtime with my white bread sandwiches, my chocolate cake bar, packet of crisps and a bottle of water; listening to my colleagues complaining how bland their salads are or how they can’t have a biscuit because they have no points left. Or who will share half this cake with me, I really shouldn’t eat a whole slice of cake. Or explaining that they’ll eat a proper meal tonight when they’ve drunk all their weight loss shakes today. As I reach for a whole slice of cake (it’s cake, I ain’t sharing) I’m greeted with a chorus of ‘it’s alright for you, you can eat what you want’ or ‘it’s not fair, you don’t have to worry about eating anything’, ‘look at you, you’re so thin, how do you do it? What’s your secret?’ I finish my slice of cake, shrug my shoulders and smile with embarrassment before mumbling ‘sorry, I don’t know, nothing’.
That’s the thing; I didn’t do anything. The only exercise I get in taking my son for a walk. I haven’t set foot in a gym since my second miscarriage. I eat and drink all sorts of stuff I shouldn’t on a regular basis: pizza, chips, chocolate, crisps, McDonalds, white bread, cappuccino, biscuits. I wouldn’t drink green juice if you paid me a million pounds.
I suffer from acid reflux, IBS and depression, which effect what I can and can’t eat and my appetite. But I’ve always been tall and thin. I’ve always tried to hide it. Suffering at the hands of bullies every day during high school takes away your self-confidence. Being told you’re fat and ugly for five years destroys any belief in your physical appearance you may have. Add to that the guilt I feel for being thin, for returning to my pre-pregnancy weight within a year of giving birth simply by going for 45 minute walks two to three times a week. Being naturally thin is not all it’s cracked up to be.
I don’t comment on other peoples weight or diets because I know how awful I feel about it. I don’t wish to be bigger or smaller. I just wish I could accept myself and be proud of the fact I’m the size I am. I wish I had said something to the woman who measured me for a bridesmaid dress when I was 22 and called me a bitch for having a 24 inch waist instead of covering myself up and getting embarrassed.
I’m thin and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. It’s just the way I am.
However, until the media and social media realize that everyone is unique and individual, that the size of your clothes is nowhere as important as the person you are; the guilt is always going to be there.
Elisabeth Woodhouse is originally from Norfolk in England and now lives in South Yorkshire with her husband and son. Since graduating university in 2002 with honours in English and Sociology, she completed a PGCE in 2003 and has been teaching Media Studies and English to high school students ever since. She has also spent many years volunteering for GirlguidingUK, but is currently taking a break to balance family life and working.