I really detest the word skinny. It doesn’t even sound nice when it falls out of my mouth. In reality, it’s just another word but unfortunately I attach the word skinny to unpleasant memories sometimes.
I didn’t think I was too skinny until I was forced to believe it. As a young child I never understood what people really wanted from me. What was I supposed to look like? Kids, although inexperienced and innocent, can be so ruthless… especially towards eachother. Playground-talk really hurts. I remember back in primary school the “fat” kids would be mercilessly teased for being overweight and yet I’d be just as relentlessly teased for… not weighing enough! People would purposely push past me and pretend like I was invisible, like I was withering away or something. As I’m typing this, it’s occurring to me that I was probably a textbook-case bullying victim. Wow. I’ve never really stopped to accept that as a fact, but here we are.
Fat-shaming is a major thing of course, I’m sure we can all accept that it exists and is so prevalent in today’s superficial society. But what about the shaming of men and women that look like me? I suppose we could get into the semantics of the differences between teasing, name-calling and bullying but honestly, to me it’s all birds of the same feather. The point is, growing up I was made to feel like an alien because of a thing that I felt like I had little to no control over – the genetics of my body.
In terms of public perception, things didn’t really get any better as I progressed through my awkward early teenage years. I made so many attempts to try and put on weight but still, all I would get is Wunmi, don’t you eat? or How are you sooo skinny? or my personal “favourite”
Men love curves, not skin and bones!
(As if my sole purpose in this life is to attract the attention of said curve-loving-men?? Lol. But that’s an infuriating discussion for another day). So as you can imagine, I became very self-conscious about my looks. Particularly about my legs which were nicknamed “twigs”.
Eventually, I would use these twig legs of mine to join an athletics club when I was 15. I thank God for my friend Ire – she took me to my first training session. I was a sprinter of course, and I absolutely loved it. Sprinting gave me a whole new sense of purpose and it was a great distraction from my body confidence issue. I didn’t really mind being skinny during my Athletics Days funnily enough. I almost saw it as an advantage – I was quick, fit and flighty. Sprinting made me feel like I could fly. And since I was even going to the gym weekly as part of my training, my “skinny” body was finally taking shape. I had a bum! I was growing into myself and that was exciting.
Athletics helped me to see my body in a positive light finally. I’m grateful I had that experience even if it was short-lived (sadly I quit sprinting to focus on school and never fully returned ~
I’d like to think I could have been the next Flo Jo! 😂). Yes, I could compete in athletics competitions in front of hundreds of people in my tight kit, showing off my legs with “confidence”… but I still hadn’t fixed the core issue. The issue was my heart – my perception of myself. I still didn’t truly love my body. It might come as a shock to some of you, but that issue took a while to address!
Slowly I accepted that I couldn’t hide behind anything anymore. Or let the words of others skew my own opinion of myself and therefore my confidence. I had to confront myself!
So I admitted whilst staring at my naked 17-year-old self in the mirror:
Yes, perhaps by society’s standards I am too skinny. But guess what? GOD made me this way and my beauty is not confined to what a scale says anyway. I am so much more. I am able, I have life and I have love. Skinny or not.
Once I accepted myself for how I am, imperfections and all, I began to carry myself differently. I’ll admit, being “too skinny” had never stopped me from wearing dresses, skirts or other things that could draw attention to my petite-ness in the past. But now I felt happy wearing what I wanted to and I stopped taking all of the weight comments to heart. There are some people that would love to have my body. I’m beautiful, my body is beautiful and now more than ever I try to use my body to honour and glorify God (more to come on that topic later!).
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
Of course, for health and personal reasons I would still like to work on my body so that I can be in better shape and the best version of myself that I can possibly be. Those are my overarching goals and it’s perfectly okay to set body goals, because ultimately neglecting your body is a sin:
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Going through body confidence issues has made me much more careful about the things I say to people about their appearance. You never know how long your thoughtless words can linger, or what long-term damage you’re causing. Be kind! Nobody resembles perfection.
So that’s my story. What about you? Today’s message is: be confident in yourself as God’s precious creation. He doesn’t make mistakes – you are intentional. We come in all different shapes and sizes, and we are all beautiful. At the same time, we must not neglect our bodies. We must be honest and disciplined if we need to make improvements. Before you can spark change, you have to accept yourself – love your body. I’m going to take my own advice.
God bless you!
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8