At Shakesville, Amber Leab writes about how being too sick to gain weight – and too sick for life-saving surgery – changed her perspective on that ultimate compliment, “you’re so skinny!” For Leab, being skinny was dangerous, even as the women around her envied her for it. She observes that the culture of thinness is so powerful that it reaches all the way into the operating theater:
On the operating table, I was prepped for the procedure by a female nurse and a male doctor. When the nurse lifted the hospital gown above my abdomen, she exclaimed, “Look at that pretty flat stomach!”
I processed this statement for a moment. A medical professional had complimented me on my thinness, which was so extreme as to prevent me from having life-saving surgery, while prepping me for a procedure intended to help me gain weight.
To his credit, the doctor quickly snapped, “That’s the problem!” but her message couldn’t have been clearer.
Go read the whole thing. And remember, next time you go to compliment a person on how skinny they or how much weight they’ve lost: they might be skinny because they’re sick. And besides, their waistline is none of your goddamn business.