Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Being Petite

It is the year 2012, and people have started speaking out about how beautiful bodies can come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the time, this is referring to curvy girls, who may have been ridiculed when they were in grade school for being 'fat'. This sort of social torture can lead to all sorts of problems, including low self-esteem and even eating disorders. This problem isn't completely gone, but I can tell it's getting better.

"A real woman has curves."
"Big is beautiful."

I can agree with this sentiment. Being an incredibly small female myself, I know what it's like to live the realization that 'one size does NOT fit all'. I am glad that larger women are appreciating themselves, and others are beginning to appreciate this aesthetic as something completely special and respectable in its own right. I'm glad plus size models exist (even if 'plus size' in the modeling industry is a lot lower than the average size of females in the US). Like I said... it's not perfect, but it's getting better.

Where I feel a bit left out here is that this same revolution has not happened for small people. "Oh, but I would kill to be as thin as you," someone once said to me. Great, so I'm thin -- but it's not all it's cracked up to be. I'm five feet tall. I barely weigh 100 pounds. Up until I started taking the pill, I could barely fit in an A cup. Now I fill it out.

I do not fit the normal standards of beauty,
...but I am not curvy.
I'm more like a twig.

"Oh, but you don't know what it's like... being teased for your weight."

Yes I do. I remember one instance in which a bunch of the girls at my school circled around me during recess, locking me in with their arms. They called me a shrimp, over and over again. If you are imagining a traumatic scene from a movie... yes, it was something like that. I was a little kid. I pushed one of the girls to get out of this 'circle'. She later complained that I was giving her asthma problems, so I jumped on her and pinned her to the ground. I was really upset.

Later on, when girls began to grow breasts, I was left behind. I started wearing baggy clothes to hide my lack of a figure, which is ironically the same tactic larger girls used to hide their weight.

I'm 24 now, and I've grown up to accept who I am, and the way my body has formed. I'm healthy, so I don't have much to complain about. I have not suffered any lasting blows to my self-esteem, and by the time I went into high school, the girls had found something else to tease me about -- my nerdiness, which is something that was easier to deal with than my size... because being a nerd is a choice. Being the size you are is not. (My doctor told me to eat lots of ice cream to gain weight, but I couldn't gain a pound. Up until last year, when I started taking the pill, I weighed the same amount as when I was 14.)

Here is how I am still dealing with my size:


I go to clothing stores, and I can't ever hope to fit in even an XS for women. SOMETIMES, I can fit in an XS for juniors, and if I am lucky, a S, but only if the sizes run small.

My lack of breasts makes anything but 'skin tight' or very baggy clothing look awkward on me. Anything with a low cut probably won't look right. Dresses in particular are a problem area, and forget about making a 'strapless' dress work. Even busty girls need to constantly pull those up -- what do you think it's like for someone without big breasts?

"So? What's the problem? You can still wear junior clothes."

As a 24 year old, do I really want to dress like a teenager for my whole life? I would like to look like someone who is my age, and not many junior clothes have a look of maturity about them.

I am somewhere between a pant size 0 and 2... Sometimes, I can find pants in my size, which is great. HOWEVER... I am way too short for the length. Every pair of pants I have needs to be awkwardly rolled up, shoved in boots, or personally hemmed. I have not bought a pair of pants that fit completely right without alteration.

Dresses are another problem area. According to one lady who measured me, I am a size 1... I can fit in a size 0 or a size 2, comfortably. Unfortunately, most dress stores don't make these sizes, and if you CAN find a size that small, it must be special ordered. Again, I am forced to buy 'junior' dresses.

"What about 'petite' sizes? Weren't those made for you!?"

No. For some reason, 'petite' sizes are made for short people, but not for thin people. So either I must be short and curvy or thin and tall.

Am I really complaining? No. This is something I've lived with, and dealt with, and I get by.

But I did want to mention... there IS another side of the spectrum. Mika just hasn't made a song about us yet.

There are the really curvy girls and the really not curvy girls. I'm one of the really not curvy girls. I often don't realize just how small I am until I meet someone who is just as small as me... and then I have that moment of observational clarity where I realize that I really AM that small.