• Fri, Nov 22 - 10:20 am ET

Why Being Petite Doesn’t Make You Immune To Weight Insecurities

I'm so happy

The issue of weight comes up fairly frequently when spending mass quantities of time in the company of females.  What to eat for lunch? When to work out? How tight are these pants? Are all daily dilemmas that elicit body talk.

Just yesterday I was out for after work drinks with a group of girls when the cocktail menu prompted a torrent of calorie counting and a profession of love for gin and tonics. We began discussing our respective diets, work out routines and goal weights. However, when I disclosed that I was trying to lose five more pounds as well my sentiment was not met with support and understanding but rather, rebutted with “you’re tiny,” and “you can’t.”

This seems to be the case every time the issue of weight comes up, and to be candid I find it extremely frustrating. Being petite does not make me resistant to weight insecurities. One hundred and ten pounds looks a lot different on my 5’2” frame than it does on someone who ism say, 5’6”. Just because I am smaller in stature doesn’t mean that I don’t want to lose those stubborn last five. And being told that I can’t want that or shouldn’t want that is unfair.

I was extremely athletic all through high school. I danced, played soccer, ran and went to the gym. I rarely watched what I ate as I was constantly working out and there was little need for rigorous calorie counting. However, the second I got to college the freshman fifteen went from myth to reality faster than a Tracy Anderson video could buffer on YouTube.

The body I had known and loved for eighteen years was quickly replaced by something that felt foreign and uncomfortable. Suddenly, I was self conscious about everything. Does my hair make my face look wide? Do these glasses accentuate my hips? My insecurities spiraled out of control from there and no one really seemed to understand. Anytime I expressed my discontent with my body, people would roll their eyes and tell me again that I was “tiny.”

Not only did this make me feel isolated in my struggle, but it also made me feel worse about my weight. I felt that people didn’t want to tell me the truth and were secretly scrutinizing how I looked behind my back. This led to years of crying in the bathroom when I knew no one was home and straying away from anything that required me to wear a swimsuit or a tight dress. It took until my senior year of college to wear that dress that everyone was trying out–the body con dress, short and tight, and totally revealing.

Everyone has their own ideal weight that once achieved makes them feel their best. As long as that goal weight is attained in a smart, healthy manner then no one should be made feel bad or wrong for wanting to get there. There are innumerable factors that contribute to what one’s goal weight is. Height, frame, body type, genetics, lifestyle, and history all affect how our bodies look and feel. Demeaning anyone’s perception of their ideal weight diminishes how personal and unique weight issues are. To someone who is 5’7” with an athletic build, I can understand that wanting to weigh 105 pounds seems a bit dramatic, but to someone who is five foot nothing with a dancer’s frame, 105 pounds may be just about ideal.

Weight is such a prevalent but sensitive subject. The issue of losing it is so widely understood, yet unbelievably personal to every individual. The discourse surrounding weight loss is often very generalizing which lends itself to situations not unlike my own, wherein people judge your goals based on their own. There is a need for a widened perspective and a more open understanding. I am working out and eating healthy in the hopes of losing four or five pounds–not because I think I am overweight or because I need to, but because I know once I do I’ll feel healthier, happier and more confident. And that is all that should really matter, not my current weight, and definitely not my height.

You can reach this post's author, Tara Dalbow, on twitter.
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  • fortheloveoftriangles

    This article describes so much I go through! I am a measly 4’11” and constantly told I am tiny, which in a way is true. But the tight-fitting clothes, and lack of self-confidence because of what, in my eyes is a huge belly, huge hips etc are things only I seem to appreciate. Thanks for posting this x

  • Tess

    same thing happens to me :( i am 118 lbs, 5’4 and when i say i have to lose 6 pounds people freak out. Makes me feel kinda bad

  • DeanaCal

    Thank you for posting this! A few years ago I joined Weight Watchers because I just could not lose that last few pounds on my own. I’m 5’3″ and wanted to lose 11 pounds but had really been struggling with it. The program itself was great and I recommend it to everyone interested in it, but some of the people at my meetings were pretty shamey that I didn’t have 50 or more pounds to lose to reach my goal weight. Yep, all the people who were trying to reach my size were shaming me for actually being my size. My one good friend who actually wanted to lose 100 pounds was the one most supportive. Her snarky answer was “excuse you for not waiting until you were morbidly obese before wanting to do something about it.”

  • Fabel

    Yeahh this happens to me– & I’d gained enough weight (I thought) last year that I could start complaining out loud, BUT apparently not?

    I mean, I know it’s a privileged position but it’s still annoying.

  • JennyWren

    Yep, it’s difficult. I’m fairly petite now, but when I was younger I was very overweight, and since I lost that in my early twenties it’s been a matter of constant work to keep me in my “sweet spot” (which is actually anywhere within a 10lb range). That doesn’t mean I’m “constantly on a diet,” which what I hear people say a lot, but it does mean being very, very controlled about what I eat on a day-to-day basis and exercising more than I would like (ie: at all). And because a lot of the people I know didn’t know me when I was overweight, they think this is ridiculous. But being 5’2″ and naturally curvy, it’s very, very easy for me to put on 6 pounds and slip into an unhealthy weight without noticing. And because I remember how miserable I was at a larger weight, and especially how badly people can treat you at a bigger size, being a bigger size worries me a lot.

  • kf

    Yes, but it’s also very hard to hear my gorgeous, athletic, and very toned skinny friend pinch the skin between her torso and arm (right above her armpit) and talk about how she wants to get rid of that. Then I have to point out that if she lost that skin she would be unable to raise her arm. When she talks about “I want to get rid of just this little bit here,” and she already looks gorgeous to me, i think 1) about how her judgments reflect on me when I know cognitively it has jack all to do with me. But also 2) that jesus christ if she can’t be content with her body who can? Have we all been programmed to never be completely happy with ourselves?

  • CMc

    Great article. Thanks for posting from this point of view. It’s something I continually struggle with and it’s good to know I’m not alone.

  • Mel

    I have never ever met a woman who was truly completely satisfied with her body or who has a healthy relationship with food. We’re all kinda messed up in that department, no matter how big or small. Isn’t it sad?

  • LynnKell

    Yes, 10 pounds reflect a hell lot different when you are 5’2″ to when you are 5’5″+
    I get a lot of comments because I am skinny and sometimes 3 pounds seem a lot to me and nothing to someone taller. Don’t let tall people bully you, you work for the body you feel better with.

  • Kay

    AMEN. In the exact same position – 5’2″, 110 llbs, want to get down to 105 in hopes of losing the little bit of belly fat college gave me, as well as the ridiculous 30GG’s that are ruining my back and posture. Funny, people tell me get a surgical reduction, but are aghast when I say I’m trying to lose body fat to reduce naturally. Hmph.

  • Guest

    I’m 5’2″ and you lost me at 110 lbs. When I was that weight 11 years ago, my size was zero. Now it is creeping upwards of 6 at 135lbs, and it looks way worse on me than it would on anyone taller. But I’m okay with my body, despite reading insecure complaining of those much thinner. Here I thought this would be something mature and relatable, not whiny and adolescent. STFU, realize that people’s bodies change with age, accept it with grace, and eat something.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      So, what, you want a high five for being not insecure despite people thinner than you being insecure? You want everyone to get excited that you deem some people’s body insecurities as inadequate of being spoken about? Good, awesome, from now on, every woman who feels stressed out about her figure should just STFU provided her insecurities don’t qualify for your standards of validity.

  • Coriolis

    Thank you for writing this. I’m in a very similar position, and people can’t really understand that even though I’m not obese, I can still want to change my body, for my own reasons, that really DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THEM. They will simultaneously: 1. Get upset that I have body issues, even though I’m small, “Shut up, you’re tiny. You’re not allowed to bitch.” 2. Act like my own body issues are somehow less real than theirs but also a very real judgement on their bodies, “If you have body issues at your weight, how must you feel about my body? You must be judging me!” and 3. Judge my body while telling me not to judge theirs. “I don’t want to hear that you want to lose five pounds. I have to lose fifty! You should shut up and eat something.”

    I refrain from pointing out that to someone my size, losing five pounds can feel more like someone tall losing twenty. At my height and build, ten pounds can easily be multiple pants sizes.

    Judging other people’s goals and struggles are not ok, even/especially if you don’t understand them.