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“Careful the things you say, children will listen.”

“OY, would you just look at the waist on her? You’re so lucky to be so skinny!” The number of times I heard this line in any number of variations as a child would be impossible to estimate. I got it from family members, my parents’ friends, and completely random women in grocery and department stores. I heard it constantly.

The earliest I can recall someone telling me how lucky I was to be skinny is at least elementary school-aged, somewhere between 5-9. Yes, I was a child. I was an innocent, fairly healthy and active child who ate macaroni & cheese and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches as my mother put them in front of me. I was picky, but the way I looked wasn’t even a concept in my head. Food was for nourishment and I was taught to eat it 3-6 times a day as my mother gave it to me. But I was apparently very lucky to be so skinny, according to everyone.

I didn’t know that was meant as a compliment (and why should it be?). When I heard I was lucky to be skinny, that meant skinny was good, ideal, something everyone should aim to be. And I was there, so… success! It meant that to be something other than skinny was unlucky and would lower my quality of life, as you could hear it had for the women talking to me in their envious tones. It meant I had it good as ...

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