Thursday, September 26

Can We All Agree to Stop Using the Word Skinny?

 Funny Friendship Ecard: I so badly wish I was emaciated, skeletal, and hollow-cheeked. Said no one. Ever.

The other day Gina started a discussion on her facebook page Running To The Kitchen, about calling a recipe "skinny". I have often thought about the word and it has always left me feeling uneasy. Using it in the title of a recipe is a marketing ploy. "If this recipe is skinny, that means I can eat as much as I want". Not the case, yes those recipes can be lower in calories but are they necessarily healthy? No. They are often times filled with unnatural ingredients, substitute sweeteners and what not. I'm guilty of it. I have a couple recipes on my blog that use the word skinny in the title. I wish I could go back in time and think about what I was writing. Because no food is "skinny".

Do we all know what the definition of skinny is?

skin·ny ˈskinē/ adjective adjective: skinny; comparative adjective: skinnier; superlative adjective: skinniest 1. (of a person or part of their body) very thin. "his skinny arms" synonyms: thin, scrawny, scraggy, bony, angular, rawboned, hollow-cheeked, gaunt, as thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, sticklike, emaciated, waiflike, skeletal, pinched, undernourished, underfed.

Which brings me to my next issue with the word. Why would anyone want to be "skinny"? Scrawny, scraggy, rawboned, hollow-cheeked, thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, skeletal, undernourished? I know I don't. 

I've been called skinny my entire life, and  I have always cringed at the term. I post a cake recipe on my blog and I will have people comment on facebook... "How do you eat all this food and stay so skinny?" I even had someone (a family member) make a comment once "Go eat a damn hamburger, your so skinny."  Now I know that is not meant to be an insult. In fact most people may read that as a compliment. But really to me this is what I hear... "you look gaunt or bony." or "do you have an eating disorder or something?" 

Listen. I've been the true meaning of the word skinny. I had unhealthy eating habits, I was undernourished and truly skeletal. It's not something I ever want to be in my life again. 

Today... I am no longer skinny. Does that mean I am overweight and unhealthy? No it does not, I strive to be healthy. I enjoy REAL food and most importantly I lead an active lifestyle. I actually have no idea what to call my body type. And honestly I don't care.  I am healthy and I am happy. That is all that matters. I won't label my body and I will not accept the labels others place on it either.

Skinny is a word that I am adding to my list of dirty words that I will not use.... I will no longer label my foods as skinny, and I most certainly will not use skinny as a way to describe someone else.

What does the word skinny mean to you??

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27 comments:

  1. I love this, Carrie. Thank you for posting! It is a great reminder to take a step back from the crazy obsession with being skinny / thin / small whatever. The reason most of us write about food is that we associate it with love and sharing that love with our family and friends. Not about how much you can eat for just a few calories, etc.

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  2. Hi Carrie

    I LOVE this post! I have had similar experiences my whole life. I was painfully "skinny" as a child and teen to the point I was constantly humiliated and picked on. People think it is a compliment but it is just as bad as calling people "fat". It still leaves hurt feelings and a bad self image. I have some curve to me now but I still get people making comments like "I hate you you're so skinny and you had two kids" or whatever the rant is. They laugh when they say it to try to make it okay but it honestly isn't. Woman often have enough criticism for themselves in their own head and do not need help from other woman. I do not think being "Skinny" is the answer but being as you said healthy and happy in your own skin. Thank you for sharing.

    XOXO
    Nicole

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  3. Great post! I, too, was a "skinny" kid. Had to wear elastic waist pants into Junior High! They were so short on me, to have a waist small enough, that I was wearing high waters. My mom went to the doctor to have him give me pills to make me eat. Didn't work. I weighed 103 when I got married. then had two kids and, let's say I've - compensated! Now, I strive to eat BETTER, more nourishing food, less fattening, less sugar filled, and more fiber. I would love to be told, "you look HEALTHY", though, rather than EVER hear "You're so skinny" again.

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  4. Thank you for posting this, Carrie. I have been reading your blog for a while now and I relate to so many of your posts, this one especially. I, too, have been unhealthily (is that even a word??) skinny and had unhealthy eating habits and looked awful....Fast forward 25 years and I am a healthy, happy mom of two. I hate the focus on skinny, weight loss....blah, blah, blah....let's just be healthy!!!!

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    1. Make that fast forward 15 years....Damn typo!

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  5. This is a great post, Carrie. Now I'm starting to see the word "skinny" in an entirely new light. I love the new Special K commercial where the women are trying on jeans. None of the jeans have a numbered size. Instead, the jeans are labeled with adjectives. Your comment about labeling body size reminded me of the commercial and how it doesn't matter what your size, as long as you're happy and healthy. Hmm, now to find a new label for my healthier recipes.

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  6. Well said, Carrie. I truly never gave the word much thought, but after reading it in your post (you know how a word can change when you read or say it over and over), all I saw was "skin-ny." As in "you are nothing but skin and bones." I was a crazily...slim...kid. No more. About 15 years ago I went on an Extreme Health Kick and lost a bunch of weight and worked out like the crazy person. I had my husband take a photo of me once a month so I could see the changes.

    The photo from the last month, to my eyes now anyway, was of a borderline skinny person. Not in a good way. Shudder. I'm trying to work my way back to a happy medium. As in Medium-sized clothing. :)

    Another word that really gets me when I see it in recipe titles is "Slutty." But that's a whole other story.

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    1. I have had this discussion before with others, slutty, whore, crack.... All words used in food titles that have nothing to do with the food! I am so guilty of it. Three of my most popular recipes have the word CRACK it them. I want to kick myself.... Why do I (and others) think it's ok to compare food to a dangerous highly addictive drug? It's not even funny.... And HOW is food "slutty"??

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    2. I get the *intent* of using those words--I really do. Addictive like crack. I've used crack as a way to explain how Delicious things are. Maybe it's just a case of being mindful. So many times we use words without thinking about them. But they, and their connotations, are very powerful. I know I could do, will do, better. I'm glad you wrote this post. Hopefully folks will start to give their choice of words a bit more thought, Carrie.

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  7. I really love and appreciate you for writing this.

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  8. I was at a blogger event not too long ago with a group primarily made up of baking bloggers. I actually had a fellow blogger look at me and say, "You know we all hate you for being so skinny." Now, her tone of voice wasn't mean - she tried to say it in an "upbeat" way. But, based on your post, you already know how this made me feel. Yes, I love to bake. Yes, I am relatively thin (or "skinny"). But what didn't that blogger know? That I also have a digestive disease that prevents me from putting on much weight. And while a lot of people would think of that as great, it's not. I would happily trade them my awful, chronic disease for a healthy body. I work out not to make myself "skinnier", but to keep myself as healthy as possible. I strive to be fit, not rail-thin. Let's stop striving to be rail-thin, but let's also think twice before we make disdainful comments towards someone who might be a size zero or two or WHATEVER and consider that maybe there's a reason they are the size they are. Let's all strive to be healthy. Period.

    Love you, Carrie. Thanks for posting this.

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  9. Thank you. I was, like you, skinny -- gaunt and bony. Kids get teased for being overweight, right? Kids also get teased for being underweight. Trust me. One time in 10th grade a boy told me I looked like a "Freakish skeleton" in my tank top and shorts.

    I didn't wear either type of clothing until my sophomore year of college after that.

    And then my aunt asked if I was anorexic one time... which I wasn't (never have been). You know, these things stick with you. Today I have gotten past them, they don't haunt me, but they did. Today I eat to be healthy. I eat a lot of sugar, too, which isn't healthy, but I do strive for a balanced diet -- not to fit into a certain pair of jeans or look hot, but to feel great and be confident in myself. And you know what? I even have some pudge now. GO PUDGE! ;)

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  10. I love this!! We are so wired in this culture to think that skinny equals beautiful. I actually have pinned several recipes with the word "skinny" in the title. That word can be so appealing and deceptive. Healthy should truly be the goal we strive toward. Thank you for sharing this! :)

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  11. Great article, Carrie! Labels are nothing more than ugly adjectives and, in my opinion, ways for people to feel worse about themselves and others. Think about it... not even just weight related. There are ugly food labels (crack), ugly personality labels (skank), and ugly body image labels.
    The psychological ramifications of this ugly name calling are horrendous. This has to stop!

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  12. The word skinny was never used in my house while i was growing up. We are proud, wide shoulder, hippy, strong, sturdy German women!!! Health was a HUGE word in my house. Everyone on my German side of the family supported healthy eating and everything in moderation, living an active lifestyle. All of us on our German side were all different shapes and sizes and we accepted and supported each other. Although due to health problems i have struggled with weight in my life but its important to accept it and always try to move forward the next day. The english half of my family was very obsessed with being SKINNY and it was troubling to me, i didnt understand it and it sparked MANY different conversations with my mom about what i held true in my heart.

    Everyone has a different body and different genes that act and react differently to exercise, food consumption and lifestyle. What is a perfect size for one person may not be for another. If someone feels better being themselves at a size 8-10 then a diet obsessed size 2 trying to fit in...more power to you! Dont let anyone tell you what is right for you!

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    1. PS thank you so much for writing about this, you did a great job! I loved reading all the other comments, i really enjoy hearing about others history with the word skinny and their journey with self love and acceptance. I think for women its important to rally around to support one another and share our stories!

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  13. Excellent post as always, Carrie. I love how your passion comes through with every eloquent word. I've always been slim but a few years ago, I had gained a ton of weight and was the heaviest I've ever been. I turned 30, I got engaged and I was determined to slim down for my wedding. I got my wish but not the healthy way. I was so stressed out by work and wedding planning that I was nauseous for an entire year. I couldn't eat stomach anything except crackers, bread and water. I thought I was developing an ulcer (I wasn't). It was just stress wreaking complete chaos on my body. I lost 25 pounds that year. I was emaciated. I was skin and bones. I looked like a 12 year old boy after having lost all of my curves. I'm healthy now, thank goodness, but sometimes i yearn for that body and everyone tells me I'm crazy because of how scary I looked. Isn't it terrible that our society brainwashes us into thinking that bones = beauty? I'm trying to love myself just the way I am but it's hard after a lifetime of thinking I'm not good enough. Thank you for this post, Carrie. No one should aspire to be "skinny" and you're right, we should stop using that word. Being healthy and loving ourselves are goals we should all strive towards!

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  14. I really love this post. I actually just share my first personal post on my blog today and I mention when people say things like "go eat a piece of cake!" I was never really called skinny as I was growing up and I've worked so hard to lose weight and maintain it, so I know that people aren't trying to be rude by telling me to eat cake, but it definitely doesn't come across in a nice way. Healthy and skinny have different meanings, for sure. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  15. this is a great post! from someone who has also been undernourished and skeletal, and also is still to this day stereotyped because of a slim physique, i hate the word "skinny". i hate how it's used on recipes and drinks. in fact to me nowadays a "skinny" recipe symbolizes to me the use of artificial ingredients as opposed to whole foods. thank you for sharing this post - it really puts into words a lot of what i think.

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  16. I hear you on the topic of "Skinny" and it's one my main issues with my blog www.eatdrinkandbeskinny.com. Skinny, the way I intended and interpret it is fun, cheeky and flirty. And anybody who reads my content should know I promote anything and everything BUT striving to be gaunt, emaciated, skeletal, and scrawny. I have considered shifting to www.eatdrinkandbehealthy -- but it is a premium URL that comes with a price tag. I've tag lined my blog as "It's not about being perfect, it's about being better" and I hope everybody realizes I'm only promoting health and happiness in a light hearted manner. To your point, I may devote a blog to the same concept to clarify my healthy intentions. Thank you for this!

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  17. This is a great post Carrie. Found you via Stephie's post that discusses the same topic. As one who has also suffered from an eating disorder, I think it's incredibly healthy to try and reform people's thinking on the 'skinny' issue. I've also been called skinny for most of my life and hated it. For some reason, people don't seem to view it as a hurtful term (as opposed to 'fat' or 'obese'). Now, though I do think that in culinary terms the word 'skinny' isn't supposed to be malicious, I do think that there are many better words for the same description. So glad that you addressed this issue. Hugs, and so glad that I found your blog xx

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  18. Carrie, reading this post brought tears to my eyes. I loved every word. Thank you! I can relate to so much of what you said, and it's a great reminder not to compare myself to others or to some ridiculous idea of what women 'should' look like. You are amazing!

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  19. I don't really understand how the word "skinny" is insulting. I was also a "skinny" kid, all limbs and no curves. I didn't really like how I looked and people would comment on how "skinny" I was, but it was just, true. I felt they were just stating a fact. As I got older, metabolism slowed and my ability to eat whatever I wanted caught up to me. To be terribly honest, once I was no longer "skinny" I felt adrift. I realized I identified with the thin body type I had always had, so I hunkered down and lost weight again. Today I was called "skinny" twice, both by smiling people who followed up with "you're so cute!". It felt great. I simply don't associate "skinny" as a the negative, emaciated adjective others describe above. My body likes to be thin, I looked ridiculous with extra pounds because my genes are to be tall and lean. With extra pounds I looked simply "lumpy". I'm happy to be that "skinny" girl again. I'm proud of my body and the hard work I am putting in to be this way (I have to work at it now). Sorry if I have offended anyone. Maybe it's my age, or just personal experience, but I am in no way insulted by commentary from others in being a low weight. Not sure what I am missing on this topic...

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    1. This is a personal post written about MY opinion. You don't have to understand it.... It's just my thoughts about language and my body image.

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  20. Any time I see the word "skinny" applied to a recipe I know it's going to be less tasty. I would rather eat less of anything than work over a perfectly good recipe to take out the oil -- and the flavor.

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