This post is inspired by an embarrassing incident with one of my new and very good client that I met for the first time last week in Kigali, Rwanda.
I’m not going to into the details of this incident here,but suffice to say that a good business deal was clicked after some uncomfortable grilling by my client,in relation to my dwarfish stature.
It was even more uncomfortable for me since my client was a tall hefty lady.
In my regular medical check-ups,I always feel ridiculed when a physically endowed nurse quips after recording my body weight; “do you really eat?”
What I’m I supposed to think after such a statement?
Is it a complement?
Is it ridicule?
At 50 plus now,I weigh 56kg and height of 175 cm.
I grew up skinny. Athletic since birth, I was always very active and played a sport for every season from elementary school through high school.
To be totally honest, I was so skinny that rather than being bullied for being overweight, I was
bullied for being underweight.
Even though I was healthy and had an athletic build, I still didn’t break the 50kg. mark on the scale until I was a senior in high school.
Because I was skinny and had a fairly high self-esteem (as high as a high school boy can have), I never gave much thought to what I ate.
As long as it tasted good, I didn’t really care what it was made of where it came from – as evidenced by my numerous sausage eating contest with my friends over weekends.
When I was a senior in high school I started to purposefully put on weight so that I could gain more muscle mass. I ate as much as I could as often as I could and eventually I gained about 5kg – most of it muscle.
I finally stopped being ridiculed about my low weight and I felt like a true athlete for the first time in my life.
I had a very successful year of dating and I vowed that I would continue hitting the gym even when I went to college so that I wouldn’t
lose the muscle that I worked so hard for.
A funny thing happened in college – I kept up my promise to myself and continued to work out regularly and I actually lost about 5kg, rather than gaining the so-called “Freshman”
Though my weight crept up slowly for the next four years, I still ate what I wanted, when I wanted and didn’t put any thought into it because I never saw any negative consequences from my actions. After
my 21st birthday, when my doctor expressed some concern about my lack of weight gain I started to eat everything I could get my
Still, nothing. Zilch! No weight gain.
I started hitting the gym five days a week, but months went by and I didn’t see any results. I couldn’t gain the weight.
After a while of hitting the gym and trying to get back into the required shape of a “protective man” with big biceps, I got frustrated with the lack of results and basically gave up. I didn’t know what to do or how to feel.
I was very down on myself about my
weight and I forced myself to make peace with the fact that I
would never be “big”.
Growing up skinny had skewed my perception of weight so much that, to an extent, I shut down.
Food is something I’ve always loved. I love to cook and I love to sit at the dinner and enjoy a meal.
The office tea-girl
“Ugh. I wish I had your problem!!”
This has become a constant refrain from our office tea-girl.
Initially she used to urge me on to clear my tea biscuits.
She had no idea that I could eat all the servings on the table meant for all the staff and still not gain a gram in weight over a year.
After realising later on that I take hefty amounts of any type of food without adding on any weight,she only shrugged and remarked;”Uug,I wish I had your problem.”
Yes, my “problem,” annoyingly dismissed by so many well-meaning people throughout my life, is that I’ve always been chronically underweight. Stick-thin. Skin and bones. Nothing to me. Size 000. (Okay, they don’t
make a triple zero. But I was super jazzed the day they came out with the double so I wouldn’t have to buy clothes from the kids’ department, anymore.)
I never wanted to be this way. When I had high
school teachers accusing me of being anorexic, I wished they would have known that I actually
probably had the exact opposite type of disorder — an obsession with wanting to gain weight.
But I couldn’t.
And, as alone as I have often felt in this struggle, I know that I really am not.
Us skinnies are definitely in the minority, but there are plenty of people out there who are underweight and do not wish to be.
And lots of families with kids who were just like me, and “failing to thrive.”
Pick the tabs
I have however learnt to live with it.
I used to be thoroughly embarrassed when I took my friends oout for a treat,and the waiters would keep pushing the bills to my “bigger” friends; their reasoning,I presume is that the bigger guy has the ability to “pay” the bills!
Or when a client who has been referred to my office by another client keeps on insisting that he wants to talk to the “CEO”.
It is quite difficult to picture a “skinny CEO” when comparatively looking at other “bigger” staff.
I won’t even go into the social side of it-girls want bigger “protective men”.
The society expects your body size to reflect your “social status”.
The list is endless!
Who said only the “fat” people are shamed,ridiculed,and stigmatised!
Bernard Wainaina is an Independent Agribusiness Advisor and CEO at Profarms Consultants®,Nairobi,Kenya.
Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®