Skinny Doesn’t Equal Happy


To The Gym Instructor who Changed my Life –

I’m writing this letter because, quite frankly, I am appalled at your behavior.

When I entered your class the other morning, not only was it my first day of your class, or any class at all for that matter, but it was also my first day at the gym. Yes, here I am at 28 years old going to the gym for the first time. I am a confident, overall fit person, but the gym is an intimidating place for me. I’ve always enjoyed a nice run outdoors or an at-home workout tape. I don’t know if I’m using the weights correctly, I don’t know how long to stay on certain equipment or how many reps I should be doing, I don’t know if my exercise combinations have any rhyme or reason with one another. Yes, I can ask these things, but like I said, this is one place I’ve continually felt out of place.

Anyway, your class went really well and I really enjoyed myself. I was also quite proud, if I’m being honest. I’d made myself go to the gym and I’d had a great time!

A few minutes after class you saw me leaving with my 9 month old daughter in tow. You and a few other ladies from the class, who you seemed pretty close with, approached us with smiles on your face. Oh, I felt so welcome and comfortable at last.

“How are you sooooooo skinny right after having a baby?” you asked. I kept a smiling face, but inside I groaned.

“I’m actually struggling with my weight right now and have a very high metabolism……” I started  to quickly explain, not sure where my courage came from on this particular day, but thinking I’d have an ally in the gym instructor. I mean you’re a professional, right?

“She has a fast metabolism,” you, the instructor of all people, say to the other women, with a laugh.

I was crushed and I didn’t know what to respond with at that point and turned the attention to my smiling baby.

“Skinny” was one of the the words I always thought I’d want to hear one day as a new mom.

Not now.

Not that’s it’s really any of your business, but since the birth of my daughter my weight has plummeted. My doctor is concerned about my high metabolism (which is apparently hilarious to you) and I’m 15 pounds less than before I even got pregnant. I am losing muscle mass. I have one pair of pants that comfortably fits me.

While others look at me and see that I’m so lean, I look at me and see a long road ahead. The week beforehand I had signed up to work with a trainer on the muscle mass problem. I am trying to eat tons to keep up with what I’m losing between the breastfeeding demands of nursing exclusively and for having a metabolism that’s off the charts. I am also being overly conscious of my intake because I don’t want my weight to sky rocket once the breastfeeding is done.

Aside from all this, I’m still getting used to my forever changed body from childbirth. My sagging breasts, my stretched out belly button, my thinned hair. And although I’ve lost a lot of weight it doesn’t mean I’m tone. Part of me looks skeletal, part of me looks deflated. I don’t like to look in the mirror. It’s a lot to take in. I wish I didn’t care but I’d be lying to say it didn’t matter.

And what a strange question, anyway – “why are you so skinny?”

Is it okay to go around and ask people why they’re “so short,” “so pale, ” “so fat?” You probably wouldn’t (hopefully wouldn’t!) do those things, yet you think it’s okay to ask someone why they’re “so skinny.”

And what’s sad is my trust is shaken now. You completely humiliated me! I took the leap of faith and pushed myself to attend to the gym. I immediately trusted you since you worked there, especially since you were a female instructor. I felt you were someone safe I could talk to. I’m the new girl. The one whose doctor wanted her here. Yet, now I feel like I have to answer differently. Giggle it off and get nowhere, like I’ve been doing.

As I sit here writing, however, I am learning a lesson myself.

I know there’s times I’ve said something about someone’s height, weight, hair, body size, or skin! Maybe even some sort of awkward question that I didn’t really think out before letting it leaving my lips. I’ve never been purposefully hateful, it’s all been out of love, but still! There’s probably been a time or two I’ve made someone uncomfortable.

And I am so, so sorry!

For some reason our society has it embedded in our brains that it’s okay to make remarks about the tall and thin but you wouldn’t want to say the words “short” or “fat.” They’ve said that tall and thin is the way to be but the fact is here I sit tall and thin and more insecure than ever before. Just because someone’s body looks how we think they’d be happiest with it, it doesn’t mean they are.

I am hurt by your mocking and laughter that followed my true answer when asked about my weight. I’d like to open my eyes and forget it, but unfortunately it still stings. I forgive you, however, because my hope is that you didn’t mean it to be as hurtful as it was.

I forgive you if for no other reason than the fact that society has trained us to not be gentle with one another. To zero in on a body type and assume everyone should look like that, and that those that do, are happy, and those that don’t, are not.

And honestly, looking back now, I’m thankful it happened. It hurt me, but it taught me more about myself. It taught me to love myself when I’m doing the best I can. It taught me to love the process, especially since this body is what brought my daughter into this world. And even more than that, I’m thankful because it taught me to love others more than ever before; to always be careful with my words and actions because we never truly know anyone’s inside battles.

And for that, I thank you.


A Changed Woman




19 thoughts on “Skinny Doesn’t Equal Happy

  1. Kaylee says:

    Oh I know this feeling all too well. I was 10 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight after having my son. I was breastfeeding full time and could not keep weight on for the life of me. I had so many people make comments that i’m sure they thought were nice.. and others that weren’t so nice.. its so hard! But you’re doing an amazing job. Keep going to the gym and dont be afraid to speak your mind to that instructor!


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment! What’s funny is I originally wrote this letter to her and was going to mail it to the gym, but I didn’t want it to blow up. I figured I’d make it a blog post (and protect her identify, of course) when I realized that I thought many women, especially mamas, could relate from so many different angles. Sorry you had to deal with people making not so nice comments. In one ear and out the other, right?!


  2. Stephanie Gilbert says:

    Oh Chels, I know the feeling of not being happy with your body. This was good because it reminded me that we don’t always know what others are going through. But I will say that I think you are beautiful, friend!


  3. Angela Kim says:

    I can’t believe that instructor and those women! I can completely relate. I’ve been skinny my whole life (my dad is and so is my brother) and while the rest of the world sees this as a good thing, I hated my body. I felt like a kid, never voluptuous or womanly enough. I feel you girl and don’t let it get to you. Now I’ve learned to let these rude comments right out the other ear. lol. I cant wait to go back to the gym though. I know it’ll be hard to start all over again but I really want some muscle back, I hate this skinny fat feeling. Not to mention, my lack of energy from raising three kids and breastfeeding. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope you know you’re beautiful just the way you are!


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      You are beautiful just the way YOU are! Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment Angela!!! And you said it perfectly, that skinny fat feeling! And oh yes, so many comments that go right out the other ear! I know life is crazy, but try to make some time for you. You deserve some mama time at the gym for so many reasons! Xoxo


  4. kozyandco says:

    Chelsea, I’m so sorry that this happened to you. People can be so cruel sometimes without even realizing it. I hope that your doctor figures out what’s going on, but please know that you are beautiful, and an amazing person for taking this experience, learning from it, and sharing about it!


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      Thank you so much Jessica! I don’t think her question was intended to make me feel uncomfortable, but I feel like the mocking and laughing was just uncalled for! I hope it was just something that kinda slipped out and she never did that to anyone else! Especially with her being a gym instructor, for goodness sakes! Thank you for reading and supporting my blog! I appreciate it more than you know! Happy to know you, YOU are BEAUTIFUL!!!


  5. Nicole Banuelos says:

    Oh my gosh Chelsea! Thank you for sharing your story and allowing yourself to be so vulnerable with us. I feel ashamed because I sure have been guilty of asking the same types of questions before. Glass house, right? Thank you for sharing this!


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Nicole! Don’t feel guilty! Like I said in the post as I was sitting there thinking “how could she ask that,” I was like wait, I’ve probably done the same thing. Changed me now that I was on the other side of it. Should could have, of course, done with the mocking and laughing, but regardless maybe after the fact she realized just what she’d done.


  6. Margaret Fain says:

    They are only jealous of thinking they want what you have without knowing the reasons behind it. I was painfully thin my entire life, until I had babies. Could not eat enought to get past Twiggy skinny. They called me Olive Oyl. Then I ballooned 70 pounds with each pregnancy, but lost it right back while breastfeeding. I don’t think people understand how much breastfeeding takes from you. Not until I hit 40, had a hysterectomy, and spent a year on huge doses of prednisone due to hives, did my weight finally get “normal.” You are beautiful…but yes, we all struggle with body issues, and do not realize how hurtful comments can be. Let it be a lesson to us all to say either nothing, or “you are beautiful!”


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      Thank you so, so much for your comment Margaret! And for always reading my blog. I appreciate it more than you know! And you’re exactly right people don’t understand how much breastfeeding takes from you! And actually I have some friends who can NOT lose weight due to breastfeeding. And that’s the thing, everyone is SO different and people just need to respect everyone all the time because yes, we all struggle with body issues!


  7. lifeofaministermom says:

    You are most certainly beautiful Chelsea! I’m sorry you went through this very uncomfortable experience but I hope that it does not discourage you from continuing to take the path you need for your best health. Let’s hope that she was genuinely in awe, because most people do zero in on losing the baby weight without thinking twice about it. I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson here!!


  8. busylittleizzy says:

    Very heartfelt Chelsea. I’m sure they really wanted in on your secrets for losing baby weight since for most they don’t have the problem you are going through. We are most definitely curious creatures and often don’t know when is the right time to ask things or if it’s appropriate to ask. Hoping you find answers with your drs soon! Keep going to the gym! Your body deserves it!


    • Chelsea McKinney says:

      Thanks for reading Eryka! That is a great outlook. I didn’t necessarily mind being asked, the mocking and laughing is what was humiliating. Regardless, I think sometimes people do have the right intentions but don’t necessarily say it correctly. Like I said, I’m guilty of that! And thank you – she’s not going to keep me away from the gym! She did for a few days, but I didn’t want to give her that power. And thank you – that post actually sat in my drafts for quite a few months so all is good and back to normal. I have an appointment this month, but I think everything is good! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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