Hunger Games: What I Remember About Being A Size 0

I’m 5’8. I’m naturally about a size 4, which you would think would be just fine, except, I don’t know, society, man. Once, when I was in college, I successfully managed to drop down to a size 0 for a year. I wanted to be really skinny because I figured it would insure me a happier, better life. I did it by not eating anything I wanted to eat, ever, and crying all the time, mostly because I was so hungry. It resulted in me being really unhappy, which is something diet magazines rarely tell you! Here’s what I remember from that period:

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    • Jamie Peck

      Oh God Jennifer, I am so sorry you went through all that and so glad you came out the other side. I just want to cook you some tasty food now.

    • Kendra

      this helped. i don’t know how else to say it.

      thank you.

    • Aleks G.

      I’d just like to point out that while your editorials and photo essays in this series are seriously empowering to non-size 0 women who once aspired to that goal before realizing that it’s unhealthy, you neglect the other side. Even in this country, where more than 50% of the population is obese, there are still naturally thin women who do, no dieting required, wear a size 0.

      Posting pictures such as “0 is not a size” can be just as damaging to a thin girl as posting a photo of an emaciated Kate Moss. After all, not all of us can have the curves of a Victoria’s Secret model, right?

      Isn’t it more important that all women learn to embrace their bodies at a weight that is healthy for them than trying to enforce a “real women have curves” mentality for ALL women?

      • Jennifer Wright

        Yep, you’re right. Especially since the point of the post was not “being a size zero is dumb” so much as it is “it was really dumb that I spent a year of my life being miserable in an attempt to be a size zero.”

      • Jennifer Wright

        Picture changed!

    • Natalia Silva

      I went through a period of needing to lose weight to feel accepted. I got lucky, and grew breasts that hid my weight one way or the other, but I remember the difficulty. I am from Brazil too and all girls there are so thin that a size 6 is the bigger girl. You sound wonderful.


    • Eileen

      I loved this (and can relate).

    • macalny

      This whole post horrifies me. I have never had such struggles with my weight or food and every time I hear someone talk about their own personal experience, whether with anorexia or bulemia or simply an unnamed obsession with food, I feel confused, angry and defeated. I don’t understand it. The thing is, at the very beginning, upon reading that you’re 5’8″ and a size 4 my first thought was “good god, woman! Eat something!” But then I had to allow myself to think that perhaps you have a small frame and that’s your natural size, no crazy diets involved. Then I read further about your quest to be a size 0 and I felt terrible for my initial judgement of your size 4. What is it about sizes and numbers that get us so riled up as a society? Why do we react so strongly? Why is there meaning assigned to people’s body shapes? I’m sorry for what you put yourself through and honestly hope you’re healthy now.

    • Nina

      Even though logically I know there are others who are doing/have done what I do every day, it’s nice to read it too. As for the shawls, I’ve dealt with it by amassing the largest knitwear collection known to man.

      • M

        Same here. I actually just posted a comment along these lines of these slides on the BMI=suck article before I read this. I am so incredibly glad that part of my life is done [hopefully for good], but it also sucks MASSIVE donkey balls knowing that even though it was absolutely the worst part of my life, I’m never going to look even close to that good again. And I only got down to a size 2 at 5’2″ but it wasn’t going to go any more without me dying and rotting away first since my ‘hips’ were all pelvis at that point. It also sucks being fat now [legitimately fat], but I’m aware that if I start trying harder to lose weight it’s very likely I’ll fall into the spiral again. I’d rather be fat and content with my life than thinner but absolutely miserable.

      • Eileen

        @M (I’m not sure how well I’ve figured out the new layout, so just know I’m replying to you)

        I used to worry the same thing. This year, though, I put on enough weight that my clothes didn’t quite fit anymore, and I decided to go on a diet. I was TERRIFIED…but I upped my workouts, cut some junk food, lost a few pounds, and that was it. I can lose weight like a normal person now! It was so exciting I had to buy a pizza to celebrate ;) Anyway, what I mean is yeah, you have to be careful, but you don’t have to be afraid.

      • Jennifer Wright

        You know what I don’t understand? Why we never just out-of-the-blue compliment non-super skinny women on their appearence. When I was a size zero, I felt like I got complimented by strangers ALL THE TIME. I don’t know why thinness is the go-to thing to compliment on a woman.

    • Penelope

      It’s regular peanut butter pie, but it’s still delicious.

      Thank you for writing so frankly and honestly. What’s the point of looking great if you feel miserable? I’m so glad you’re through that and feeling – and looking, I’m sure! – so much better.

    • A.

      I have struggled with being ‘overweight’ my entire life. Being 6′ tall and coming from a family where all of my aunts and cousins range from chunky to obese, I would pop exlax and drink slim fast and exercise 3 hours a day. Now I don’t worry as much. I am a size 16 and I sometimes eat 60% of an entire pizza, but at least I am happy.

    • Haley

      Holy crap, I did exactly the same thing my freshman year of college. If this had been my slideshow I would have added just one more slide, which would be titled, “Friends silently pretending that they haven’t noticed the only thing you are eating is a giant pile of steamed vegetables”.

    • EKS

      you left out a super happy funtime slide: waking up with bruises on the inside of your knees (and sometimes hips) from sleeping on your side

      • M

        And one more! Hair falling out. I never got to bald spots, but there was definitely a ridiculous amount of shedding.

      • Jennifer Wright

        Didn’t you know to prop pillows up all around you? It helps you put one in between your legs (knobby knees).

    • Eric L.

      Oh Jen,

      Crying over an empty plate and thinking of zombies… you’ve got trophy wife written all over you.

    • Jamie Peck

      PS, Vegan Treats makes a pretty awesome chocolate peanut butter mousse cake that is for sale in many places around the city. You should try it!

    • kpatt

      Ensure, not insure.

    • B

      is it sick that I REALLY want to try this??
      I get it, it was horrible for you but I am one of those people that judges myself by how other people look. When you said you got compliments and people saying you looked like a model? That won me.
      I can be in a room full of people and I’ll pick out the skinniest girl and hate myself for not being her. Its sad, its pathetic but hey, its my thing.
      Now if only I had the will power to go through with it and a mother who doesn’t bake regularly..

      • Jamie Peck

        Eating disorders aren’t just bad for Jennifer, dude. They are pretty bad for everyone. If feeling shitty for not being skinny enough is “your thing,” I suggest you get some therapy. If you read a piece about someone’s year of misery and disordered eating and think “I admire your restraint,” you need help.

      • B

        @Jamie Peck,
        I should have worded what I said differently. It wasn’t meant to sound so negative, it’s just my lifestyle. I’m not unhappy being unhappy with myself, if that makes sense, I let it motivate me.
        & whether it was done negatively or not, you can’t say she didn’t have insane levels of restraint. I’m not saying, KEEP doing it, it obviously is not maintainable… I guess I just liked the ‘challenge’ it set. I’m a competitive person by nature and so when I read this I started thinking ‘could i even do it’? that is what presented itself as appealing.

      • Karen

        Being so skinny is not as fun as everybody thinks. i’m 5’3” and i lost my baby weight around 15-16 years old.

        Since then, it has been a bloody hell finding dresses i like cause i happen to be too petite for the 80% of the brands i like. Also, my feet got skinnier so i have a really hard time finding shoes, sandals, heels, even boots that fit me properly, most the time i have to get my shoes taylored so i can wear them confortably, otherwise they are too wide to walk safely.

        I don’t wear bracelets because they are to big for my wrists and my own rings are too big for me to wear them without fear of me loosing them if i do a strong movement with my hands.

        And last but not least, it is freaking ugly having to deal with bullies who automatically think that you have an eating disorder and therefore is their duty to enlighten you. Not fun at all that acquitances, teachers and coaches automatically assume that when you get a simple cold is a side effect of your “eating disorder”

        I spent 6 months on a diet to gain weight. I went to a nutritionist and ate around 1,800 calories (healty food, hardly any junk food) and only got 4 freaking pounds.

        Being so skinny is not as fun, fashionable, glamorous and the secret to happiness as everybody thinks. embrace your body type, eat healty, exercise and most importantly focus on finding something more significant to be happy about.

    • Tania

      I don’t think it’s a good idea to compare dieting (what some people do to lose weight) to an eating disorder (what you had if you regularly fasted to lose weight, drank only Slimfast, and threw up your nourishment)

      Just be careful you differentiate. This article should have been titled “What I remember about having an eating disorder”

    • MSG

      Well, it saddens me that so many women practice disordered eating and behavior habits to achieve a certain size, but it also saddens me that these generalizations about being size 0 were made. Being a dancer, many of my colleagues and I are size 0 and we are not cold, tired, faint and hungry all the time – neither do we deny ourselves peanut butter cake and truffles. There are plenty of size 0′s out there who aren’t about to have heart failure or are abstaining from food.

    • MSG

      Going back to my previous post; I’d like to add that while it’s true that size skews everyone’s perception of body, I wish there’d be some kind of education about natural skeletal frame or structure. Understandably, some people are built smaller with bird-like bones (myself included) and having an extra 10 pounds on me would be ridiculous, but had I typed the number of my weight with an extra 10 pounds, people would jump down my throat. Then again, a taller woman with a larger bone structure with perhaps a Germanic background would have a difficult time being sized 0 without suffering health problems. This perception of beauty is varied anyway. A curvy Victoria’s Secret model is as undeniably beautiful as a bony Versace one as a more muscular Health & Fitness one. I think my bony greyhound is as gorgeous as my large rottweiler. :P

    • Megan

      Yeah. I’ve been reading all this Hunger Games stuff, and I’m on the other side of it, too. I’m a size 0–even 00 sometimes.

      But I’m also 5 foot 2. And I stopped growing at 14.

      I am not slat-thin. I am nowhere close to an eating disorder, but I do make healthy food choices. I am not an exercise machine, although I move around. I have curves! I’m a 34-24-36–an hourglass with boobs and hips. I have cellulite on those hips like pretty much anyone else on Earth. I hop on a scale once in awhile.

      Women usually ask me how I got so thin, like I must have some secret. Men–to maybe debunk some of the “Real Talk” that’s been going on–tell me I should gain some weight.

      No one sees me as just normal. Most people see me as just a tiny size. Quit that.

      • Myra Esoteric

        I’m shorter than you and never been a size 0-00, but I am trying to be slat-thin and all bones. I want to look emaciated, starved, and not really have curves.

    • Irina

      Great post, I felt the exact same things when I was a size 0 because I was obsessed with dieting. It took me a while to realize that I am gorgeous even when I’m not size 0 (I also learned that “bones” doesn’t mean “sexy”).
      Take care :)

    • a.b.

      I like that you wrote this, Jen. I remember: My freshman year at college, when I talked to you about eating peanut butter and jelly bagels, told you I’d had an eating disorder in high school, and you said “I’m so sorry, that must have been awful,” and I thought, “what? But you must know, look at you.” I remember: racing you, barefoot, the very last weekend of school, down to the end of the upper soccer field and back. I won, maybe because of the peanut butter and jelly.

      I hope you read this.

    • Myra Esoteric

      Thanks for giving a realistic perspective for what to expect, including the pitfalls. I was a 12-14 in middle school and grade school, 14-16 in high school and my 20s, fought my way down to a 9/10 last year and I’m at a height where a vast percentage of people are a 0 “naturally”.

      Regardless, YOLO. I have never worn a single digit size even on the Master Cleanse and diet pills at the same time. But damn it, by hook or by crook I’m going to get there. (I’ve never even been a 4-6.) Even if it’s about being tired all the time, it’s worth it to have a high school body once in my life.

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