I'm sick of being 'SKINNY BASHED' for being a size 6... by other women [Eire Region] [Mirror (UK)]
(Mirror (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Picking on someone because they are slim should be as socially unacceptable as being rude about someone who is fat. But Vanessa Traquair, 37, an electronics technician, from Bridport, Dorset, with children Kieran, 17, and Jake, 14, says she has been bullied her whole life for being naturally thin.
"Can you imagine saying to someone who is overweight and tucking into a burger: "Yeah you look like you REALLY need that!" Or calling a stranger or even a friend "fatty", "lardy", "chubby" or any other derogatory term used to describe those who are overweight?
Well, "skeleton", "Twiggy", "stick insect" - I've had them all. And I hate it. Yet people seem to think it's acceptable to tell me I should eat more or comment on how lucky I am as I have a slice of chocolate cake.
I don't think I'm lucky at all. Has being a size 6 and weighing around just 7st all my adult life despite being 5ft 6in made me happy? Not one bit.
I don't have an eating disorder, I eat heartily and I've never set foot in a gym, yet I've been teased and criticised to the point of tears, often by other women. I've avoided mirrors and spent my life in jeans to hide my legs. I've longed to wear dresses and never felt womanly or pretty.
Does that sound like a blessing to you? The teasing started at primary school, when I was called "skinny legs" and "beanpole".
Even teachers would think nothing of saying things like, "I hope you don't get blown away" when it was a windy day in the playground.
But it went up a notch when I hit my early teens when I was called "Twiggy" or "skeleton" and had to put up with comments like: "Don't stand on that drain sideways or you'll fall down." And of course everyone would dissolve into giggles.
Although I'd try to laugh it off, I'd be excruciatingly embarrassed. I hated looking different and their words just underlined what I thought about myself. I was often accused of being scruffy.
I wasn't, I just couldn't find clothes to fit. If trousers or a skirt were long enough they were massive around the waist and had to be pulled in with a belt.
In the end Mum made most of my clothes, not ideal when you're a fashionconscious teenager. But she did her best, and I was grateful.
Rare shopping trips with girlfriends were a nightmare. They'd try on gorgeous little dresses and moan about their imaginary fat. Occasionally I'd try one on too, shutting myself away in a cubicle.
Back then there weren't lots of petite ranges so things hung on me. I'd stare into the mirror, flushed with embarrassment, hating my protruding hip and collar bones. I'd hear one of my friends outside and whip the dress off, saying I didn't like the colour, tears stinging my eyes.
And of course with my tiny frame came a tiny bust - 32/34A. That really gave the boys a laugh. I remember there was one boy I really fancied. I thought I had a chance with him, then he teased me about my pancake boobs and I knew that was the end.
I'd plead with Mum to tell me how to gain weight. I'd tuck into my packed lunch, complete with crisps and cake and her huge evening meals, dreaming of waking a pound or two heavier. I never did. She'd assure me I was perfectly normal, but just had a fast metabolism. "Look at Dad," she'd say, who is also naturally thin.
But I didn't want to be like him, I wanted a body like Madonna or one of the other curvy pop stars I longed to be like when I was a teenager.
In the end I resorted to retaliation to deal with bullies. I remember a boy calling me "Twiglet" and snapping back: "I may be skinny but at least I'm not ugly." That took the wind out of his sails.
But it was the attitude of people who should've known better that shocked me most. When I was 18 I went to see my GP because I was having irregular periods.
"I'm not surprised, you're so underweight," she snorted, despite me telling her I ate well. Far from helping me, she simply said I'd get osteoporosis if I "carried on". I left frightened, hurt and in floods of tears.
She wasn't the only one. People would said things like: "You must be anorexic." And they still do to this day.
I met my ex-husband Gary when I was 16. I apologised for my tiny frame and lacking boobs but he was very sweet and reassured me good things came in small packages.
But like everyone else he'd say hurtful things without thinking. I remember putting on a pair of trousers and him grimacing and saying: "Oh no, they make your legs look even skinnier."
Even in pregnancy I didn't gain much weight. Both times I looked the same from behind and as if I had a football up my jumper from the front. I gained most with Jake and even then I was only 9st. Every pound, including the glorious bust pregnancy gave me, went in six weeks.
I thought I might gain weight with age but that hasn't happened. I'm 7st 6lbs and have dropped a dress size from my teens. I was a size 8 then, I'm a 6 now.
And people still make unkind comments. I was at dinner with friends not so long ago and we were talking about whether we wanted to be buried or cremated. "It's all right for Ness, they can stick her in a matchbox," someone said. I noticed they didn't comment on how many people it might take to carry the coffin of the overweight woman sat opposite me.
In fact, if I had a pound for every time I've heard someone say "It's all right for Ness" as I order chips with my steak,buy a bag of crisps or when a friend is talking about dieting for her holiday, I'd easily be a millionaire by now.
Yes, being able to eat whatever you want is nice but food's not everything.
If I'm unhappy or stressed the weight falls off so I look even skinnier. I dropped to under 7st when my marriage broke down four years ago. Sometimes I see a photo of myself and think "why on earth did I wear that?" Then I remember I didn't have much choice.
A lot of the size 6 market is aimed at girls in their late teens. I don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb. Thankfully, Next have decent stuff or I resort to buying aged 12 to13 from Peacocks which fits me perfectly.
Since I split with Gary I've had the odd date but I find that I am still apologising for my flat chest and skinny legs. Although men today are used to seeing tiny celebrities, most still really like curves, boobs and a bum on a woman.
If I'm honest, I don't look after my body the way I should. I'm afraid to exercise as I might lose more weight.
I try to pack in lots of calories. I have porridge or rice pudding with a banana for breakfast, sandwiches, crisps, a cake and fruit for lunch, maybe a biscuit in the afternoon then pasta or meat and veg in the evening.And I love a takeaway curry and fish and chips.
Recently, I decided enough's enough. Maybe it's confidence of age, maybe it's finally realising what's important in life, your health and happiness.
I realise I've spent too long worrying about how I look or being upset at the catty comments and bitchy looks I get from other women who think because my waist happens to measure 25ins I must have no problems in life.
I've started to embrace how I look. I still feel safe in jeans but I've started wearing skirts and shorts and if someone finds my legs offensive I have decided it is their problem.
And I actually like my back and show it off in halter neck tops. I'm even a little bit proud of my bum which remains firm.
I admit if money was no object I'd have a boob job. I'd really feel womanly then. But I can't afford it so will settle for a good padded bra. I'd love to look like Jessie J who I think has a healthy figure, but then we all have a dream, don't we?
I just don't want to let being thin define me any more. And I want others to see it's not all it's cracked up to be.
I want them to understand that telling someone they could do with "fattening up" probably hurts them as much as telling someone they need to lose a stone.
In fact, I know it does."
AS TOLD TO ALISON PAPLMER
If I had a pound for every time someone said: 'It's OK for you, Ness' as I order chips with my steak
I've spent too long worrying how I look so if I'm in shorts and someone finds my legs offensive then I think it is their problem
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