I don’t want to be skinny

Picture this: 12 year-old little Lindsay up to bat during physical education hour. Her entire 4th grade class standing behind her in the dugout willing her to hit, please just at least HIT the ball, this ONE time. The entire field falls silent in anticipation of her big moment, then from somewhere in the outfield a rouge 4th grader bellows: “Don’t miss, Chicken Legs!” Pitch, swing, miss. Humiliation.


That’s me, middle row, third from the left. Yes, with the Scrunchi

I was born a skinny kid, long and lean with gangly limbs and nobly knees, but I never minded it. I was the just right type for ballet, and ballet was my life. Ballerinas are long and lean and well, too skinny. It wasn’t until one day when someone pointed it out, that I even noticed. My legs, or “chicken legs” as some have referred to them, suddenly transformed me into a self-conscious pre-teen and prevented me from wearing anything that revealed my dirty little secret, those colorless stems. I went from being happy with who I was to being ashamed of my body with just one stupid wise crack.

Years later, when all my ballet classes paid off, I got my first professional dance job. I was living in Hawaii at the time and managed to get a spot on the island’s only legit dance job, Legends in Concert. It was an impersonator show and I was hired as a back-up dancer/singer. With my training and background I was considered special amongst Hawaii’s mostly only hula dancers. I absolutely LOVED dancing for a living. I gave my all every night in every step. I was living my dream in the world where my body was accepted, or so I thought.

One day, the choreographer came to town to watch the show. It was the first time he had ever met me or seen me dance. At the cast meeting the next day amid the collective tension, my dance captain delivered some bad news, “Bobby thinks you need to lose weight, especially in your mid-section”. “What?” I was stunned, “but I’ve always been skinny?” I thought, “How can I now be considered fat?” He suggested that I join a gym and start a diet. Excuse me? How can skinny be fat?

I was not accustomed to trying to loose weight, so I had positively no idea how to even begin. For someone who always ate what I wanted when I wanted and did plies instead of pull-ups I was lost, utterly lost. I tried going to the gym, but didn’t know how to use the machines. I tried following several unsuccessful diets, but soon gave that up. Time marched on at work and I figured, they’d eventually look past my “weight problem” and see only what an amazing dancer I was. Unfortunately things only continued to get worse. They brought in a scale to our dressing room to weigh me every Friday in front of all the other girls, and instead of loosing weight I just continued to gain it. I had no idea what was “normal” for my 5’8”frame, just that I wasn’t too skinny anymore. Finally on Halloween I got my notice, “We have to suspend you since you haven’t been successful in changing your body”. Period, end of sentence. Devastated, I immediately stopped eating all together. I just wasn’t physically hungry for food or for life.

After years of therapy and a particularly encouraging boyfriend I finally began making amends with my weight issues. I found that my weight finally stabilized and I refused to diet or deprive myself. I was dancing a ton and had incorporated Pilates into my routine, which made me feel strong and connected to my body. Everything was going well until I reached my 30’s. Suddenly, my body began to change. I started gaining weight and noticed unknown cellulite on my “chicken legs” one day. What the f***? I can’t win! I immediately started to obsess about my rolls and promptly hired a trainer, because I was FAT. While I loved the exercise (I’m always going to be a warrior) I hated being intimate again with the scale. My mood was determined on whether or not the scale was friendly to me that day. Slowly this dislike for myself blossomed into full -blown hostility. I was raging a war with my body, with myself.

Time for action, or rather less action: acceptance. Instead of depriving myself and counting calories like a mathematician (I sucked at math in school anyway), I have decided to just buy bigger Lululemon pants and eat what I have a hankering for. I like good food. I like feeling good. Let’s stay with that. I’m getting back into yoga and trying my best to push myself in my Pilates sessions, while honoring where I am each day.

In my work as a Pilates instructor, I am no stranger to the fact that this is an epidemic, and much more widespread than just me. For years I have stood idly by, almost embarrassed by my clients as they mouth off about how they hate this part of themselves and won’t I give them an exercise to make it all go away? I am uncomfortable with their rants but why? Because, it resonated the truth: all women care about, or should I say are obsessed about, is becoming, staying, and being skinny. It’s a cleverly disguised way to be hateful to oneself, and it’s a hell of a lot of work.

So, at the risk of sounding a little preachy, really I’m just tired, I’m trying something different now. I’m following my bliss. Not in an esoteric, holier-than-thou way, just doing what feels good and leaving the rest out. Working out makes me FEEL better and that’s a good thing. Eating great tasting, fresh, home made food makes me feel better, so I choose to eat better (with the occasional fast-food indulgence, of course). I get my hair and nails done, give myself facials, get massages and acupuncture. I do all of this because I’m good and deserve to treat myself that way whether it’s a skinny me or not. So, to that undisclosed 4th grade bully- guess I’m finally a chicken no more.

Would love to hear your weight stories and struggles, your comments are much welcome below. Let us at FORM teach you how to do some Pilates and feel great no matter what your size or shape is like. Visit us at our NYC studio or workout with us online. Joe Pilates believed that his method was about blood and organs not just muscles and bone. This is a workout for your insides, not just our outs (plus you will look great after doing it!)

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9 thoughts on “I don’t want to be skinny

  1. You should run. I’m average build, but once I started running everyday, geez louise peppa cheez, I dropped like 20 lbs I didn’t know I even had to lose. (As it is, I’m probably a bit underweight now.) Anyway, daily exercise of at least a 5 mile run, 10-20 minutes of swimming or any number of workouts found online all help me stay in shape. It’s really all about motivating yourself. That’s the hardest part.

  2. “For someone who always ate what I wanted when I wanted and did plies instead of pull-ups I was lost…”

    Lindsay~ This is exactly how I felt when I stopped dancing & started gaining weight. I loathe gyms. I get bored with cardio. I was so excited to find Pilates!

    Since having 3 children, I have more appreciation for the ability to move well than being thin.

    Thank you for sharing. Great post!

    • Thanks Gini!
      It’s so nice to know there’s others of us out there that struggle with the same things.
      And AMEN to Pilates!!!!


  3. WOW!!! I totally identify with this! The ballet mistress in my class used to walk up and down the line of little girls and poke our tummies saying, “oooh, you have a le-e-etle pumpkin in there?” (while smoking, of course. How I love the French.)

    We were 5 or 6 years old.

    I struggled with weight gain in college, which was awful. Tried every diet. Finally lost it all a few years after I graduated, and never really thought about it again til, you guessed, it, a body shift around 41 started getting me thicker in the middle. I felt so hurt!

    I LOVED that 25 to 41 y.o body – the scale was my friend. I ate lots of good healthy food, did lots of yoga and Pilates, and at 5′ 9″, weighed 127 forever, immovably, it seemed.

    Then it moved up to 129, 130, 131! I had to start counting calories again, something I hadn’t done since college. So humiliating.

    Luckily, I work a lot with Buddhist meditation teachers, and after a week on retreat in the Colorado mountains, Pema Chodron finally got thru to me. She talked about our self-hatred, how ingrained it is, and how (as I know ALL too well) how the culture that creates us AND that we create spends all its time telling us/ourselves that we need to be better. We are not good enough. We are, in fact, bad. The self-hatred and aggression that such messaging generates gets projected outward to others in so many ways. We need to be good to others, but it is absolutely true that we must be friends with ourselves first. Others are just like us, too.

    We all have to stop hating what we are cuz that’s what everyone else is, too.

    So I lost the 3 or 4 lbs like that. I cut back the carbs, let myself eat some more protein and fat. And tried to at least notice when I was hating this body.

    But I still want to or do weigh myself everyday, thankful that I haven’t hit 50, when I know the only option to maintain that flat tummy is surgery, pretty much, or a grueling exercise syndrome that doesn’t leave me much time to laugh, love, play with my husband, cook. . .

    who needs THAT?! I’m glad you’ve come to be friends with your body, glad I’ve come to be friends with mine, and wish we could just all do that. Neither you nor I need to lose weight. We just need to lose the weight of expectations.

    • Ellen-
      Thank you so much for posting and sharing with me.
      I was so moved by your response. You had so many fantastic things to say!
      The part about your journey with Buddhist meditation- I love Pena Chodron and have read several of her books. That was such a great insight about self-hatred and how our culture promotes that.
      Here’s to losing the weight of our expectations!

  4. i love this article lindsay!
    i’ve have battled with my weight since i was 8 years old and finally (at 37 years old), i love my body. after years of fluctuating, with the help of a great therapist (and moving out of LA!) i have achieved what i consider to be a healthy relationship with food and exercise. i applaud you for focusing more on health and less on size-more fitness professionals should follow your lead!

    • Thanks Hannah!
      You are so beautiful and I love you! I’m so happy you feel the same way about yourself!
      Thank you for posting your comment, it means so much to hear from strong, independent women like you.
      You inspire me with your life!

  5. I have some insecurity as a 55 year old, heavy legged Pilates teacher. I came to Pilates as a personal trainer and weightlifter, not as a dancer. There are quite a few of us non-dancers out there! Anyway, I have had cellulite since I was 11. I still imagine my bosses are looking at me from behind and frowning. My photos have not been chosen for websites or the walls of the studios. My turnout is small. I don’t exercise enough and I do enjoy good food.

    What keeps me faithful are my clients! 20 hours a week they love their authentic Pilates sessions and make real progress, as well as learn to appreciate their own bodies as they are opened, revealed, strengthened, lengthened, and healed through Pilates. None of them are dancers, and that works because I don’t judge them! We actually have a lot of fun. I try to remind them when they complain about their bodies – pains, shape, height, too big, too small – that we walk a line between self-improvement and self-acceptance. I try to remind doubters of how well their bodies have served them. And yes, I still work to be leaner and longer. I still try to manifest my inner Pilates ‘babe’ and move like a Mercedes. I just try not to compare my body to an outside standard that isn’t me.

  6. Thanks so much for reposting this. I’ve been struggling with something similar for the last 3 or 4 years, especially as a Pilates teacher and fitness professional for 25 years. After reading your story, I actually feel blessed that I was in my late 40s before the real weight gain started making a difference to my self esteem. It’s great to hear someone else making the same decision to buy a better fitting pair of pants and continue to enjoy life. :)

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