The other day, I was out shopping, running some errands, picking up dry-cleaning, and I realized, at about 11-ish, that I hadn’t eaten more than the sample of cranberry bread and coffee at the grocery store. So, I decided to stop and grab a sandwich at a nearby sandwich shop. It’s funny, I think, that it was a sandwich. By “funny” I mean, “coincidental,” or, perhaps, “unintentionally ironic,” because, you see, I am periodically told that I need to “eat a sandwich.” Really. This comment usually comes from rude strangers who have decided that, for some reason, it’s okay to make comments about my weight or my body because I am thin. It’s okay, they think, to tell me that I “look anorexic,” that I need to “get a little meat on my bones,” that they “prefer women with curves” or even to ask me if I think I look attractive like that, or what example I think I am setting for my children. Yes, these are all comments that have actually been made directly to me by strangers. Once, a few years ago, I had a guy at a bar tell me that I was so skinny I looked like a Cancer patient, after I turned down an advance from him. At that point, I was probably actually sick, but really? Because, a second ago, you were interested.
What’s even weirder to me is when friends say things like this to me. It happens. I understand when they express concern. They tell me I am getting too thin. They ask if I am okay. I get that. I mean, that’s cause for concern. Some of them know my history. I’m an eating disorder survivor. So, yeah, okay, that’s reasonable. Even if I they didn’t know that, seeing someone lose weight…well, I guess it can look unhealthy at a certain point. They know my health, in general, is an issue. I can see why it would worry them. It’s still hard, when it happens, but it’s reasonable. But that “sandwich” line? That’s gotta go.
The problem is, right now ~ and, as it turns out, maybe for a long time ~ I have to be on a particular medication. I have to be on it. I don’t really want to go in to detail about what’s going on, but it’s nothing terribly earth-shattering. The end result is that I have to take medication daily, which solves the problem, and the only caveat is it affects my weight. It has caused me to lose weight. It increases my appetite, which is awesome, but it does make it difficult for me to gain weight, which is not great. However, under the circumstances, I can’t worry about that. So, I guess I should take this opportunity to assure those close to me that I am not relapsing into my eating disorder. I’m actually doing quite well, and eating better than I have in years. I feel pretty great. But I am very thin. I’m sorry. I know that might look frightening to some of you, particularly those who have known me for a long time. I know it might be hard to understand. I am going to ask you to try. To trust me. I’m doing okay.
I will ask my friends to please avoid the “eat a sandwich” line. Maybe you think, by saying something like that, you are keeping it light, but still addressing the issue? It’s really just kind of mean. That just doesn’t need to be said. Frankly, sandwiches aren’t my favourite, food is a bit of an issue for me, my weight is always going to be a sensitive subject, and I am very self-conscious about it. Besides which, it’s just not the kind of thing on which people need to comment. Aren’t people taught not to make personal comments anymore?
As for the strangers who make those kinds of comments to anyone: stop. Just stop. Whether you are saying these things in person or online: stop it. Why do you think you get to do this? Who cares what you like? Keep it to yourself. You’ll tell me you have a right to your opinion, and sure you do, but here’s the thing: that person you’re talking about might be very thin for any number of reasons. Maybe they actually are anorexic. Did you ever stop to consider that? Why is that term thrown around like an insult? You know, its an actual illness. It’s not a choice people make because they are trying to be cool, or they think it’s beautiful. Maybe they’re just naturally thin, in which case, who do you think you are telling them how they should look, and that they are setting a bad example, or that they are unattractive, just because they look the way they do? Maybe they have some kind of health problem that causes them to be very thin. What if that person you just said looks like a Cancer patient actually IS a Cancer patient? Aren’t you a freakin’ rockstar, now? I mean, whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”
This brings me back to the sandwich shop. I was really very hungry, so I ordered my sandwich, with all the toppings I wanted, and the guy behind the counter asked me what size I wanted. I had no idea. I just thought they had the one size. He explained that they had three sizes: 7″, 10.5″ and 14″. I chose the 10.5″ sandwich. He paused. I waited for him to ring up my order.
“Um,” he said, finally, “Are you sure? That’s about as big as this bag.”
He was looking down at me from behind the counter, showing me the bag, so I could fully understand the gravity of my decision. I was sure. I wanted a really big sandwich. For godssake, I can measure. I mean, I’ve been using standard 12″ rulers since grammar school. I buy 12″ subs all the time. I can guess roughly how large a 10.5″ sandwich is! Now, I’ll be honest, I had a lot of errands to run, and I didn’t really plan to eat the whole thing all in one sitting, but, while he stood there judging me and my sandwich, I didn’t see any reason to explain that to him, so I just said, “Yes. Ten and a half inches. Please.”
“Okay,” he said, still sounding skeptical. It kind of pissed me off.
You guys, I can’t win for losing. I’ve got people telling me to “eat a sandwich,” and people telling me I couldn’t possibly eat THAT sandwich. If a larger person comes in and orders the small sandwich, does he say, “Oh, I think you’re gonna need a bigger sandwich, buddy,” or does he judge them in another way, and offer them the lettuce wrap?
I guess I’ll never know. I sat outside and unwrapped my sandwich. A guy who looked exactly like George Lucas walked by. I like to think it was George Lucas. I mean, not many guys look exactly like George Lucas. I ate 5.25″ of sandwich, then wrapped up the rest to eat during my errands. It was a very good sandwich. A very large, very good sandwich, even though I was a little pissed off about the guy’s attitude. I ate it. And I am still thin. I still have only very minimal curves. And I still don’t give a rat’s ass what some stranger prefers.