Dare to Ask: 'Small' woman wants to gain weight
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
I am small (125 pounds and 5 feet 7). To some this is ideal, but to me it is
depressing. I've even stopped going to clubs, social functions and some of my
children's activities. Any suggestions on how to gain weight?
T-C, 38, female, Seattle
The hell if you do! Lift weights or something to firm up if you're stressed,
but don't get fat. It's B.S. when people say they like a big woman.
John, 47, Federal Way, Wash.
I'm 24, 5 feet 2, small-framed and eternally stuck at 95 pounds. I'm forever
trying to gain weight. I also have a very fast metabolism. I understand what you
Ashley, 24, St. Augustine
Maybe you feel bad because of cultural ideals of beauty. Sometimes I feel bad
because I'm not curvy like the Mexican ideal (I'm Chicana). Make sure you are
eating enough each day and getting good nutrition. [Also] martial arts bulks up
your thighs and arms, while ballet makes your legs and butt bigger.
Diana, 18, Sacramento, Calif.
I once asked an overbearing pastor who squeezed my arm as if testing a side
of beef and commented on my lack of "meat," why he didn't tell a fat person they
were sooo chubby while giving them a poke like the Pillsbury Doughboy. That sure
stopped his commentary.
Marlene, 50, Gillett, Penn.
My proportions are almost the same as yours, and I'm convinced I need to lose
S.R., 23, female, San Antonio, Texas
As long as you're healthy, you're blessed and exactly where you need to be.
Kimberly, Austin, Texas
We almost choked on the defibrillator-size slab of tiramisu we were eating
when we heard this. People upset with being too thin?
Well, before we have to eat our words . . .
Most female body-image issues related to being thin aren't really about being
"too skinny," but about trying to hold to a Western standard of "curves," said
Kathy Kater, a licensed independent clinical social worker who runs
"It's as though women have to be perfect . . . have the breasts, the hips, a
nice curve - but yet be thin, too," she said. "We're taught that if you don't
have the body you want, you must be doing something wrong. [But] there are
limits to the healthy ways we can influence our body shape."
It's possible T-C has Body Dysmorphic Disorder, an all-consuming obsession
with the body or parts of it that a person has decided are intolerable.
"You end up spending time and energy on it to the point of it interfering
with your otherwise normal daily life," Kater said.
Psychotherapy and medication can help.
While thin men can suffer ridicule because of stereotypes about masculinity,
studies show most people who see a thin woman - even one without curves - assume
she is happy, healthy and popular.
"If anything, the stereotypes for [thin] women are positive, not negative,"
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
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