Reader Mail – Being Thin…

This question comes from a 51 year old reader, who still retains her youthful svelte figure at 5’0″ tall and 98 pounds:

I wanted to ask you, to this day I still get comments about how small I am and sometimes they hint that I must have an eating disorder, which kills me because I hate that people would think this. I have a very healthy appetite and love food and wine. When I’m eating with people sometimes a comment will be made that I don’t eat the same amount as everyone else, but I just get fuller faster because I am so small. My size is usually the first thing a person will comment on when they first meet me. I feel like such a freak sometimes. Do you ever encounter this problem, and how do you handle it?

Yup, I’ve been there. I’ve always felt scrawny, as a child, and even to this day. Having size 00 clothing hang off my frame doesn’t help either. I’ve also worried about how scrawny I look to other people.

I also have a small appetite. I eat small portions at meals, but I eat often during the day. I get ravenous quickly and suddenly without warning, and can get quite cranky if not fed in a timely manner. And, I’m in no way a delicate little petunia when it comes to food. If it’s slathered in butter, send it my way. Soaking in chili? Even better. Smothered in creme? I’ll take it! Double meat please!

And no matter what I eat, I’m still scrawny. And even though I’m totally stuffed on fettuccine alfredo and simply couldn’t take another bite without bursting, I’m still self conscious of the looks from the other table as I dump half my plate in a take home box.

And that’s because I get comments about how thin I am. About how much I don’t eat. I get light-hearted threats to force feed me sticks of butter. And, yes, I’ve been asked if I have an eating disorder.

So why do people make comments? Because most people fail to realize I’m proportionate for my height, and being so tiny opens me up to public interest.

What people often overlook is that I’m 4’11″. I’m really, really short. And on top of being really really short, I’m thin. If you were to take a thin, average sized woman, and shrink her down to 4’11″, keeping all her proportions intact, she’d look an awful lot like me.

Tiny petites can also spark people’s curiosity, and since we happen to be “different”, people feel it’s okay to comment on it. Plus size girls have been complaining about this very thing for ages…complete strangers, or even mild acquaintances feel it’s permissible to comment on size, or health, simply because we’re different from the norm.

Here is a personal anecdote I like to think about:

When I was a child, my mom was concerned about my lack of appetite (which is funny because she was the exact same way when she was a child). She asked my pediatrician if she should worry. His response:

A Volkswagen bug needs less gas than a mack truck…she’s fine…

**Commenter monkey linked to this great post from You Look Fab about how skinny women are real women too**

Can anyone else relate? How do you handle situations like this?

80 Comments

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    kileen

    i've gotten the same comments too at times, but when i compare myself with other petites, i don't find that i'm really that small. i think my main different is that i'm also quite muscular as i did gymnastics for several years as a child. i definitely feel your pain though but hopefully just by posting this you're increasing awareness for us petites out there!

    cute and little
    come join the Color Brigade!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    daisy351

    I used to have the same problem. My college roommate would get very upset with me for how little I ate. My friends now are a lot more understanding that I eat less because I'm smaller

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    curls-and-pearls

    I'm the same in the sense that I'm always hungry but can't eat a lot at one sitting. I get in a SUPER bad mood or even get a headache if I don't eat and the hunger can strike me quite suddenly.

    Surprisingly I've never had anyone comment about any sort of eating disorder or anything like that – I think a lot of people in my family are slim so most people just think it's genetic.

    I think it's so strange that people find it acceptable to comment at all on someone's appearance and assume they have unhealthy habits.

    I do get questions from people asking me how I stay so slim and this makes me rather uncomfortable for some reason because I don't know what to tell them! It's just how I am!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    thesmallone

    I think people are just jealous. I have had people comment on my size also. It's rarely people who are happy with their own bodies. They aren't "concerned" they're just trying to be mean and it's best to ignore them.

    If I had a dime for every time some obese woman (it's usually women) claimed that all size 0s are boyish and sickly, I'd be rich. Being a size 0 and 5 ft is completely normal. I think people are just to used to large and overweight as the norm that they don't like it when anyone falls outside the norm, especially when it's the idealized version of being outside the norm.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    R.L.

    This is a really timely post as I was about to post something similar in the forum!

    I suppose since being petite is not considered a bad thing people don't think twice about pointing out this difference as opposed to pointing out a girl who is considered plus-sized. People usually mean it as compliment, but sometimes it can be insulting.

    My specific gripe is how people react to a petite when she says she wants to lose some weight. People get incredulous. As a 24 year old, I feel I packed on a few lbs due to holiday indulging this year. People don't seem to understand that on my 5 ft frame, gaining weight can be magnified.

    It's not a crime for a woman to want to lose a few lbs, but if a petite claims she wants to, people will respond with "Why don't you just cut off a limb?"

    I do wish that people would think about proportions more. My overall frame may be smaller than most women, but that doesn't mean I'm immune from the usual body gripes.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    SewPetiteGal

    Very well written! I get comments about being tiny but not about eating disorders (probably bc I'm not as small as you or your reader). I'm so sorry that you both experience this so much because I can only imagine how self-conscious it makes you feel.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    How I can relate to this post too. :) I am 59, weigh 95 pounds and am 4'11 and a half inches tall. I am size 00 to a 2 depending on where I am buying clothes and how they fit. I have always been tiny…..weighing in around 86 or so in my early twenties. I have 3 grown kids. I will never be huge if I haven't gotten there now, ha! Most of the time it is in a complimentary way that people respond to my size but then you hear on occasion that you don't eat which is not true. Love food…..eat more frequently and smaller amounts but put it all together and it is alot. Just smile and let people think what ever makes them happy, they will anyway! :) Bonnie

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    Some things I have said to nip this type of thing in the bud:

    To people who just comment without judgement, "Good things come in small packages!" with a big smile. Usually people laugh and move on.

    To people who are being negative or going on and on, "You should see my mom, she's half my size!" or "Well, I'm half-Chinese" (with a knowing look). If you can use either of these successfully, it taps into the whole "it's not my fault, it's genetic" card.

    Not that the above always work. Amusingly, the most vocal co-worker is Chinese with a petite Chinese wife, yet still mentions my size weekly.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Frankincensy

    I can relate so much to this post, especially the way you describe your eating habits. Like you, I tend to eat little and often, because my body just seems to work best that way, but unfortunately people seem to see the "little" and not the "often". I try to tell people that if I was starving myself to stay this size, I wouldn't be nearly as healthy as I am.

    I get comments on my size too, though at 5'7" and ~100lbs, I'm not sure I can use the "proportionate for my height" disclaimer! (I do have a very small skeletal frame for my height, though.) It's vexing to me because I do struggle with body image issues, and knowing that people are looking at me and judging my body doesn't help. Again, I just try to be honest and say that my eating habits are healthy, but there's a difference between bringing up weight out of genuine concern for someone's health and just making inappropriately personal remarks.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    monkey

    I am not petite (5'6") but I have experienced all the comments and feelings you've described. My thinness is entirely genetics and I have a small frame which doesn't help matters at all. I hate being subjected to the scrutiny and comments; the eating disorder misconception is the worst because that's a psychological disorder! I do whatever I can to combat this, but I don't naturally like sweets very much and it's hard because people are always watching me to see if I'll pass these "tests." I know I sound paranoid but I've had enough people ask me to know that even if people don't say anything, they're watching. You guys might enjoy this post and the associated comments from you look fab.

    http://youlookfab.com/2010/12/17/skinny-women-are-real-women-too/

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Petite Mom

    I take all comments about being skinny as a compliment! :) And I think as long as we are healthy, then we should be proud of our body size and stature!

    On the food front, I tend to eat a lot more than the average girl though, so I'm often asked where it goes. At one point, I started to feel bad about being so genetically lucky (girls looking at me like, you skinny b***ch!) and instead of letting me be me, I felt like I had to justify my good fortune by responding with "I exercise a lot" or something to that effect. But now that I've had a baby and it doesn't come quite as naturally (although I'm still skinny!), I've learned to take it all in stride. Now, I always respond with a big grin and "thank you" when someone gives me the evil "you must have an eating disorder" eye.

    To the 5'0" tall 98 pound 51 year old reader – I want to know how you kept your figure!!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Petite Mom

    I forgot to mention. Being skinny also makes me look taller! :)

    petitemom.blogspot.com

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Erin

    I can TOTALLY relate! I took a class in college that featured an entire movie about "the unhealthy size 0" — when I commented that I felt more targeted and put down than plus-sized girls, the entire classroom looked at me like I had 5 heads! People just don't understand that making ANY comment on ANYone's physical appearance can be hurtful and is grossly inappropriate!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Jackie

    Ditto. I hear you! Been there, done that, got the t-shirt!

    And you answered this perfectly! I have also been told I have an eating disorder. I'm 4'10", people! In my case, size 00 is HEALTHY. Unfortunately, some people just don't get this.

    By contrast I eat A LOT. Like, as much as a "normal" person would and I'll eat just about anything. People are amazed that all that food can fit in my stomach; I joke with them saying that I swallowed a black hole =)

    I was also pleased to read that your moms pediatrician had the right idea. When I was little EVERYONE thought there was something wrong with me; my poor mother…always defending me.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Cheryl

    Yes! I often get comments like these upon meeting people. It is nice to hear I am not the only one. For example: People will say, "Oh you are so tiny" or "You look like you're 12". Seriously, how do they expect me to react to that? "Why thank you for the generous compliment. You look about 10 lbs overweight and what are you, like 60 years old?" How's that for a response? Oh, and for the record, I'm 28. :)

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    AubreyOhDang!

    I just say, "If you're really worried and want to see me eat, I'm available tonight for dinner…on you!"

    In this society, nobody is perfect. You get comments if you're fat, thick, curvy, petite, short, skinny, etc.

    I have a friend who is 6'0 tall. I always thank my lucky stars that you can hem or size down clothes, but you can't add material to make them longer or bigger. =p

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    lia

    I get comments like this too :( High school and college were the worst – all the girls (even my friends!) would give me the evil eye throughout lunch because all I'd eat was half a sandwich and an apple. If I ate like a "normal" person I'd probably gain 5 lbs. in a week.

    I haven't come up with an easy response or solution – usually I just smile and nod if people comment on how little I eat. Anorexia usually isn't brought up because I'm not skinny (unless I'm just meeting someone, then they think I'm on a new diet or something).

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    Yep! If I don't eat little meals often, I'll get cranky or spacey. Sometimes my speech will even start slurring. At 32, I'm heavier than I used to be, but in high school, when I was about 87lbs, there was a girl who used grill me earnestly about what I had eaten that day. I was more amused than insulted :)

    What was harder was the fact that being so petite at that age makes you look so much younger. I would get comments from guys at 18 and 19 saying "oh you're too cute and little to be sexy." Luckily, that changed by the time I was 22, but it's hard in high school when other girls are wearing sexy strapless gowns and you're stuck in a preteen's dress for the winter formal.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    I thought this was a very good post and something many petites deal with. When I was a little over a year, I only weighed 14 lb. My mother went into the doctor crying one day because everyone kept telling her there must be something wrong with me. He told her that I was perfectly healthy and that some people are just born small. Now at the age of 27, I'm 5'-2" and about 92 lb…and I'm still small…or a miniature tall person, as my mother calls me.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    jamie

    Yeah I TOTALLY understand this issue. *sigh* The most I have EVER weighed in my life is 84 pounds. I am 5 feet tall. I have lost weight because of being sick. :( I still LOVE to eat but like others have said, I eat very frequently, but in small amounts each time. I too always have to take half of my plate and take it home in a container when eating out. I HATE the fact that people think it is ok to comment on my physical size or tell me to eat. Like when eating in front of others, I often hear: 'Well, it's good to see that you DO eat! Or, wow, so you DO eat!' I got these comments my whole life, even before I got sick and lost any weight. Or people will joke and say that I disappear if I turn sideways, or call me twig, or skinny-bones. When people see me instead of just saying it was good to see me, I also have to hear the admonition 'put some meat on those bones!' When I was a child my grandfather once told me he would give me a month to gain 10 pounds. (I was a healthy but thin child.) Members of my husband's family have accused me of having an eating disorder or anorexia. I have started telling people that I WAS only 5 pounds when I was born. I have always been thin and small. I don't mind if people I am close to, or if people who sincerely care about my health, tell me they are worried because I am looking thin. But I think it is inappropriate for people in general to feel that it is OK to comment on short, thin peoples' appearance or tell them to 'eat.' I can see how thin I am, and believe it or not, some people are thin naturally no matter what they eat. Some are thin due to health problems that simply consuming more will not solve. I mean, I see overweight people all the time, even have friends and family that are overweight, but I don't say to them, "Hey Walrus!" or, "You're looking tubby lately…" or… "Eat less!" There seems to be a double standard- it is not ok for you to joke about fat people or tell them they look pudgy, blubbery, fat and should stop eating so much (even when they are) but is ok to tell thin people they are boney, skinny and need to eat more.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    jamie

    Oh I did want to say something funny… One time I was out shopping and got very hungry so my husband bought me a turkey drumstick. So not being self-conscious at all I sat down in the food court and began happily gnawing away when this guy who was walking by stopped right in front of me, stared and said "You gonna eat all that?!' :P

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Revanche

    I've been getting these sorts of comments all my life as I used to be *rail* thin, weighing in at 75 pounds and 4'11" back when I was a young teen and barely managing tp hover in the low 90s mid twenties.

    The most outrageous and sometimes obnoxious comments I would get were from Chinese mothers who would deride my slimness as a clear defect regardless of how much I ate because as far as they were concerned, I didn't look like "their" people so I was "wrong." This from people who were once that slim. SMH.

    Most other people are just incredibly amused by it but don't have a clue about what you've described about proportions and the fact that a few extra pounds on our smaller frames feels much like several multiples of that might feel on them.

    For the longest time I tried to gain weight, to reach 100 pounds, just because I wanted to reach the three digit mark. It's happened exactly once and I quickly dropped back down to normal range cause I'm pretty sure that was water weight. We have a standard that our bodies tend to stick to and that's just how we are barring unusual circumstances.

    Now I just eat until I'm full and happy. That's all that matters. :)

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Ashley

    I've experienced this same problem.
    I was recently called a midget at my friends wedding. Even with my 4'' heels, I was by far the shortest girl in the bridal party, at just 4'10''. I was shorter than all the other girls, including the bride by about a foot. I was really offended by this comment, I didn't know what to say so I just walked away. It's amazing how clueless some people are. I guess they don't realize saying things like that are quite rude.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Rachel

    I'm 5'5" and 96 lbs, just very small framed. At my largest I was 106 lbs. I've received the eating disorder accusation pretty much my whole life, and it's incredibly annoying and can be damaging to your self-esteem. When I was younger I felt like people were telling me I looked unhealthy, not just skinny. Women at work and women in my family have been the worst – yes, my own family! Its gotten where I won't have anything to do with my extended family b/c at every function they very meanly start in on me (except for my mom and sis, they defend me), my whole family is plus-sized except my mom and I take after her.

    I wish I could say that I always react nicely to these people, but after years of what feels like harassment, there are times when I'm rude right back to the offending party. As I get closer and closer to 30 I'm just less willing to put up with people. It is flat out rude to make a comment about someone's weight, whether they are thin or plus sized. We would be ostracized by our peers if we talked about someone's issues with being overweight, I just cannot fathom why they think it's ok to talk about our thinness. I don't mean to rant, this is just a painful issue that I have dealt with for 29 years!

    I have started an intensive weight lifting regimen and even though I've lost "weight" due to it (I was 103 lbs when I started) I have bulked up a little and clearly increased muscle tone & definition. It has changed the way people react to my size (except my family, one cousin actually said "why are you working out?" all snidely in this hateful voice at Thanksgiving). But I've torn a tendon in my arm and can't work out for 6-8 months, so I'm going to lose all the muscle – it will be interesting to see if I start receiving the negative comments again. btw-I did not tear the tendon by working out, I'm just clumsy and fell!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    Just say you eat like a hummingbird :) They constantly eat!

    And despite the common thought of "being able to eat anything". I know petite women who have overwhelmed their metabolisms. It isn't pretty and must be hard on the knees. Just because you can eat anything and often doesn't mean age won't catch up to you.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Rachel

    @jamie

    I'm sorry to hear you've been sick, I know how hard that is to be even smaller because of illness. You probably already do this, but just in case: I drank Ensure when I had a prolonged stomach condition and couldn't eat well for a couple of years. I drank like 3-4 a day. Thay taste a lot better than they used to, the vanilla is the least chalky. They really helped me to maintain a somewhat healthy weight and not get too terribly scrawny!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Ali

    I think the worst comment I've gotten about my size was when my mother called me a physically insignificant being. She, too, is petite — 5'2 to my 5', but felt it was fine to comment on how "small" and thus "insignificant" I am. Most people just playfully comment on my size or how my shoulders can serve as an armrest, etc.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    As a 52 year old, 4'9", 97lbs, mother to twin sons and grandmother of 4, most comments just make me smile. I've had a lot more year's that most of you. Yes, I am usually the first one to be done eating (not counting my 5 year old grandson), and I always have a box of food to bring home. I just get full fast. I always order my food from the sides menu and not the full meal deals. My family and friend's just laugh. I have heard just about every comment and joke in my young 52 years. It take's a lot of work when you get older. I try to eat healthy and stay active with running and playing adult soccer. I don't usually tell people when I need to lose a few pounds. They just do not understand. A few pounds on them would look and feel like 5 pounds on me. I have learned that it really doesn't matter what other people think. It's more about how you feel. And this petite women like's herself just the way she is.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Russian Chic

    I was offended by my father’s comment that by bum is like sparrows knee. Now I laugh about it. I’m learning to accept and love my tiny self regardless of other people comments. I get plenty of inspiration from AN. Thank you.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Michelle

    The "eating disorder" label would definitely make it on a top five pet peeves list for me.

    I am annoyed that "anorexic" is turning into a slang word used to describe anyone who is thin.

    Like you Kelly, I had a mom who was tiny in her 20s, but would accuse me of not eating. I even had the diagnosis for anorexia nervosa memorized to prove I was not (I was taking a lot of psychology classes!).

    I have mostly moved on from being hurt by the comments, to knowing that the person saying the comments is probably an idiot. :p But I definitely feel frustrated and angry, wanting to try to make it right by "educating" them of their incorrect beliefs…but I cannot stand confrontations/debates so I usually just say a little something about how I love food and cooking, and then move on.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Michelle

    @AubreyOhDang! Lol! I will definitely be using your "I'm available tonight for dinner" comment. Too funny! :)

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Michelle

    @thesmallone Yes! I love everything you said! :)

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    ReallyPetite

    It's so funny when people find out how much I can eat! LOL They are amazed that I stay so petite….

    I'm not stick skinny but people always comment about how tiny I am…kind of annoying at times:)

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Roxanne

    I totally know where you're coming from!

    I'm 4'11" and weigh anywhere between 85 and 90 pounds (I don't weigh myself anymore)

    and even though guys tend to think my petiteness is adorable, I find that some girls take it as an invitation to make comments about my weight:

    "You're sooo skinny, Roxxi", "Aren't you going to gain two pounds?"

    It's rude and hurtful. But I've come to accept that my height is part of what makes me who I am :) Now, if only I could figure out a way to respond to the rude people. >=/

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Russian Chic

    Roxanne,

    Not all people making such comments are unkind. Some of them are just unschooled. The best is to forgive them and don't let it bother you.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Anonymous

    Well said!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Claud

    A foolish words deaf ears :)

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    JenlovesBal

    I have gone through this my whole life. I've been scrawny and on the shorter side since I was little kid. I remember being the shortest one in my classes in elementary and middle school. I finally sort of caught up with the rest of my friends (a whopping 5'2") but I'm still on the thin side. I don't eat a lot, but I eat often, I'm guessing it's just the way my metabolism works.

    My mother has been commenting and worrying about my eating habits/thinness since I was a baby. Just yesterday, she was commenting on how I barely eat.

    At my last doctor's visit, my doc asked me if I was anorexic since my BMI is lower than the average.

    I also get these comments often, but they are not hurtful to me as I have gotten use to it.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Canadianpetite

    My mom used to bug me about eating lesser than my sister who is four years younger. Now, she bugs my sister about being overweight.

    It must be so hard on you to feel the need to justify the amount you eat and your weight. Most people eat portions larger than they need. You're probably eating just the right amount for your size to keep healthy. So keep doing what you're doing and try not to stress about what others think. You look healthy to me.

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    Oh my goodness, overwhelming response! Thank you for sharing your experiences ladies! I've read through every single one!

    @monkey Thank you for sharing that YLF link! What a very well written post on the very same subject.

    @jamie – I can totally envision you chomping on a giant Turkey leg. =)

    @Ali – Thank you for sharing that. I think this community would agree that being petite is far from being insignificant. =)

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Anonymous

    I get that a lot too.. It gets very annoying.. I also get that I look young for my age. I am 24 and people still think I am in high school. Do you fellow petites get that as well?

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Lady Cardigan

    I'm not petite in height, but have a small frame. I've always gotten comments about my size, usually catty. I don't have much appetite, but I make sure to eat a healthy amount. I just don't overeat. Even people who know me well will sometimes profess to be surprised to see me eat. It doesn't bother me anymore, but I don't know why there seems to be an expectation that everyone should be big… we're all different.

    To Anonymous, people always thought I was younger, too. That will probably stop in your late 30s. Sadly.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Callandra

    Great post! I think we can all relate for sure!!

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Anonymous

    It's generally great to look young for our age in this society, but it's a whole other thing to be told you look child-like. Some people are clearly surprised to find out that I am not how old they thought I was. During a late night stop at a coffee shop, I was the only customer and struck a conversation with woman at the cashier. She went on to talk about how she has three university-aged children and that her husband is a university professor. She asked me how old I was and I replied honestly. She was in awe and said that she thought I was 14. I'm 21.

    I try to "dress older", but it's ironic how on the rare days I get lazy and decide to wear jeans and an old hoodie, or if I'm studying and go out in sweatpants, that's when I get into situations where I meet people who think I'm in my early teens.

    I'm 5" (at most!) and 90 pounds. The heaviest I've ever been is 106 in my later years of high school, and at 106 I looked somewhat chubby. I really don't mind being petite (other than that it's hard to find clothes that fit!), but I don't like having it pointed out to me every day by anyone. Even well-meant comments like "you're so cute!" make me feel like people don't take me seriously.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Frankincensy

    Just a friendly note to nobody in particular: unfortunately, there *are* plenty of people who think it's acceptable to tell a larger person they're too heavy or should eat less. I have friends who have to deal with this sort of comment semi-regularly, and in my family there are people who won't hesitate to tell someone they've put on weight. That's why I don't quite agree with the idea that there's a double standard at work, where skinny people get mean comments and larger people get off scot-free – it's more complicated than that.

    That said, I'm from the UK, and some people feel that there's more open hostility towards overweight people here, so cultural differences might come into play.

    @Michelle, the anorexia comments bother me the most, because the flipside of believing "thin = eating disorder" is believing "eating disorder = thin". There are so many people with severe eating disorders who don't get the support and treatment they need because they aren't "thin enough"… and then there are healthy people who get labelled anorexic because of their weight. It's messed up and sad.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Elizabeth

    I'm almost the exact size as the reader, only I'm 5'0" and 95 lbs. The only time people think I have an eating disorder is if I mention my weight, which their jaw usually drops at.

    What bothers me the most is when people think I'm 15 years old, and talk to me/treat me as such. If I'm in a good mood I'll joke along with them, but I can often get very irritated and its quite hard to hide! I know I look youthful, but I want to be taken seriously.

    The right clothes really help.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Roxanne

    @Russian Chic

    Thanks, Russian Chic! :)
    But it's more the look of distaste that accompanies the words than the actual words that bother me. I suppose I could ignore it, but it's kind of hard to when I feel myself getting angry. But I want to respond in a way that teaches them to be kind, not one that insults them right back. :)

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Anonymous

    I've been enjoying reading everyone's comments. I think I've gotten to a point in my life that I just don't care what people say anymore. I've heard it all, from the "do you have an eating disorder?" thing to "oh you're so cute" thing. Listen all, try to just let it roll off your back. The eating disorder comments I feel usually come from an insecurity. I have never had a comment like that from another thin person, whether they are tall or petite. So you know where I'm going with this. As far as being called "cute", I'm down with that. There are a lot worse things to be :-) Being taken seriously can be a challenge sometimes, but I've just accepted I've got to fight for that a little bit more than others. There are far worse battles to take on.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Erica

    Wow… I love all the responses!

    I get the same thing. I'm 5'1", 97 lbs, and I agree with what thesmallone wrote. Being thicker and/or overweight is the norm these days, so if you're thin, people think you don't eat enough. It sometimes makes me uncomfortable. When I have dinner with other people, I sometimes feel like I have to *prove* something by eating a lot.

    Otherwise, though, I love my size. I eat moderately healthy, exercise moderately… and this is how my body turned out! :)

    Being small, however, is worse for men. At least we can get away with being called "cute", so I'm grateful for that.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    PetiteXXS

    It's great to see so many responses on this topic! We're definitely not alone in this. I'm probably still on the slim side for my height, but I still think that I'm proportionate and I eat what I want when I want to, so it's not like I'm starving myself to be "thin". I think the rate of obesity in America has gotten so out of hand, that in order to be "healthy" you now have to be curvy. It's a little ironic to me that many of us petites with naturally slighter build are considered unhealthy with probable eating disorders, but it's actually the "average" overweight people that end up with diabetes and other preventable health issues.

  • Reply January 13, 2011

    A.Li

    I am pretty much in the same situation. I am petite with a tiny frame. I like my tiny frame though but, like most of you, it sure does draw a lot of attention. I don't know whether being petite is a cruse or more of a blessing. Some days it works in my advanatage most days it doesn't. =/ I guess being petite is a journey all in its own.

    F. http://ifstyledesign.blogspot.com/

  • Reply January 14, 2011

    Anonymous

    I just recently bought the new InStyle magazine and I am so happy that I found this website. I always thought I was the only one that had these feelings about my small frame. I am 4'9" tall and weigh 87-90 pounds and I get comments all the time about my weight and height. I know people say that you get over the name calling but I have been dealing with this my whole life. I'm just glad that there are plenty petite women like me who share the same feelings.

  • Reply January 14, 2011

    Lark

    Ali's comment above about her mom calling her a "physically insignificant being" made me want to cry. Though (thankfully) I haven't heard that from others, I've often felt that way (5'2", 89 lbs)–like I don't count as much because there's not as much of me. I've been told that i needed to be hooked up to a cheeseburger IV, received yearly notes from the doctor in college wanting me to come in and talk about eating disorders, etc. I could go on, but I'll just say it helps to read this. It makes me wish the Internet had been around when I was in high school!

  • Reply January 15, 2011

    Anonymous

    Reading through everyone's comments made me realise I wasn't alone in going through all the snide and hurtful remarks growing up.

    At 5'3" and just 77lbs/35kg, so I can look quite skeletal at times. Doesn't help either when I have broad shoulders that makes fitting into clothes terribly hard.

    It was kinda sucky on self-esteem growing up but I learned to brush off such comments about me being anorexic by being just plain rude. Yup, it stops any further comments on my skinny frame.

    You don't hear people blatantly saying "omg, you're huge!" to bigger women, so I really don't get the whole double standard.

    Now, I'm happy just the way I am. I eat normally and healthily, so who cares others think?

  • Reply January 15, 2011

    Megz

    I got the best compliment from the salesgirl at Lululemon the other day. She was helping me out with finding things that run small and was astonished to find that things that were skin tight on most people were baggy on me.

    She said "but you don't look skinny!"

    She was worried that she might have offended me but I was thrilled

  • Reply January 16, 2011

    Frankincensy

    @Anonymous

    "You don't hear people blatantly saying "omg, you're huge!" to bigger women…"

    I'm sure there are individuals who only body-snark the thin, but I personally know people who have received that sort of comment about their size. It shouldn't be acceptable, but it still happens.

    IMHO, at the root of all the "you're too skinny!" comments is the idea that it's okay to pass judgement on others' bodies, to assume things about their character/eating habits/mental health based on their physical form. This idea is damaging to everyone, not just thin people. I shall get off my soapbox now, just thought that was worth mentioning. :)

  • Reply February 15, 2011

    Anonymous

    I'm so glad I've found this site. I'm 30 yrs old, 4'10" and 80 lbs. Strangers think it's perfectly fine to comment on my size. There have been other times when I've been treated as a child or dismissed as a "little girl" who doesn't know what she's talking about. It took me a few years at my job to prove myself. Because I'm "little" and "cute" I can't possibly have a brain :)

    Thank you for creating this site and sharing your wonderful fashion tips.

  • Reply March 11, 2011

    mer

    Technically not petite at 5'5" but skinny (100 lbs), and can relate to every post here (and love this blog!)

    I kept feeling very sad reading others' comments because I think this negative attitude towards thin or small, moderate-appetite people is more common in the US than other parts of the world, especially Europe. I've found that European women are definitely slimmer and more petite than most American women. The majority of people here in Europe (especially France) don't consume troughs of food, don't drink gallons of soda, etc. The women's clothes are sized smaller also.
    I hope the readers and author here get a chance to travel and shop overseas to see that you all are definitely not 'freaks of nature' but actually pretty normal by European standards.

  • Reply March 13, 2011

    Anonymous

    As a teenager, my doctor was constantly scrutinizing me for being 5'0" and 98 pounds. She openly accused me of having an eating disorder, (which totally blindsided me). I had two good friends in high school who apparently grew resentful of smaller size and struggled with body image themselves– both abruptly had nothing to do with me. I regret that this happened all the time!

  • Reply March 30, 2011

    Michelle

    @mer

    Totally agree with you Mer. If you notice, most European apparel stores care size 2 – 4. In American standard, this is size 0 – 00. What's with the odd sizing…:) I feel it's very funny that walking from Ann Taylor, I'm extra petite 00 and moving along into H &M or Zarra, I'm size 2 or 4. Did I just gain weight in the space of 2 seconds flat?

    If people comment on your size, like a typical thoughtless or mean people:

    Why, I wear that in high school!

    You are so tiny!

    I mean, hey it's obvious that I'm petite right and yep I eat healthy so I stayed the same plus bless those Asian genetics.

    I say laugh it off because the best things comes in small packages too = diamonds, pearls, etc. :)

    Being petite and loving it.

  • Reply April 8, 2011

    B

    People are just rude. You can only try not to let it get to you – and don't forget that very slim women are less 'average' with every year. People fear what they don't understand, and pick on anyone who is different.

    I've managed to gain and maintain a few pounds finally, so I know I look much healthier than I used to. Also luckily I am a big eater, so I haven't usually caught much crap about my eating, once people see what I put away.

    AN, Your proportions are certainly normal, but I don't think you look like an 'average size' woman shrunk down! More like a fashion model, miniaturized. I enjoy your blog so much in part because we are a very similar body type (you give me the best ideas for outfits). I have a BMI of 17 too, at 5'5". We're both very skinny indeed, but still proportionate to our smaller frames.

  • Reply April 24, 2011

    Amanda

    Great post… and I love the comments. Can relate, not much more to add except this:

    When I was in college I dated a very skinny guy. One time we were sitting in an armchair together and somebody said: "Hey look, when they sit like that it almost makes a whole person."

  • Reply April 26, 2011

    Anonymous

    At 4'8" and 60 pounds I often am thought of as a ten year old. In addition to being petite and am very slender even for my size and often get the eating disorder comments and such. As hurtful as it is I've learned that this is as big as I'm going to get and letting other people's comments hurt me won't do anything. Until a few years ago I was like 50 pounds-miniscule! But I've healthfully gained a lot of weight and I'm happy and proud so no one can hurt that!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    B

    People are just rude. You can only try not to let it get to you – and don't forget that very slim women are less 'average' with every year. People fear what they don't understand, and pick on anyone who is different.

    I've managed to gain and maintain a few pounds finally, so I know I look much healthier than I used to. Also luckily I am a big eater, so I haven't usually caught much crap about my eating, once people see what I put away.

    AN, Your proportions are certainly normal, but I don't think you look like an 'average size' woman shrunk down! More like a fashion model, miniaturized. I enjoy your blog so much in part because we are a very similar body type (you give me the best ideas for outfits). I have a BMI of 17 too, at 5'5". We're both very skinny indeed, but still proportionate to our smaller frames.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Roxanne

    @Russian Chic

    Thanks, Russian Chic! :)
    But it's more the look of distaste that accompanies the words than the actual words that bother me. I suppose I could ignore it, but it's kind of hard to when I feel myself getting angry. But I want to respond in a way that teaches them to be kind, not one that insults them right back. :)

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Frankincensy

    Just a friendly note to nobody in particular: unfortunately, there *are* plenty of people who think it's acceptable to tell a larger person they're too heavy or should eat less. I have friends who have to deal with this sort of comment semi-regularly, and in my family there are people who won't hesitate to tell someone they've put on weight. That's why I don't quite agree with the idea that there's a double standard at work, where skinny people get mean comments and larger people get off scot-free – it's more complicated than that.

    That said, I'm from the UK, and some people feel that there's more open hostility towards overweight people here, so cultural differences might come into play.

    @Michelle, the anorexia comments bother me the most, because the flipside of believing "thin = eating disorder" is believing "eating disorder = thin". There are so many people with severe eating disorders who don't get the support and treatment they need because they aren't "thin enough"… and then there are healthy people who get labelled anorexic because of their weight. It's messed up and sad.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    mer

    Technically not petite at 5'5" but skinny (100 lbs), and can relate to every post here (and love this blog!)

    I kept feeling very sad reading others' comments because I think this negative attitude towards thin or small, moderate-appetite people is more common in the US than other parts of the world, especially Europe. I've found that European women are definitely slimmer and more petite than most American women. The majority of people here in Europe (especially France) don't consume troughs of food, don't drink gallons of soda, etc. The women's clothes are sized smaller also.
    I hope the readers and author here get a chance to travel and shop overseas to see that you all are definitely not 'freaks of nature' but actually pretty normal by European standards.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Anonymous

    I get that a lot too.. It gets very annoying.. I also get that I look young for my age. I am 24 and people still think I am in high school. Do you fellow petites get that as well?

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Michelle

    @mer

    Totally agree with you Mer. If you notice, most European apparel stores care size 2 – 4. In American standard, this is size 0 – 00. What's with the odd sizing…:) I feel it's very funny that walking from Ann Taylor, I'm extra petite 00 and moving along into H &M or Zarra, I'm size 2 or 4. Did I just gain weight in the space of 2 seconds flat?

    If people comment on your size, like a typical thoughtless or mean people:

    Why, I wear that in high school!

    You are so tiny!

    I mean, hey it's obvious that I'm petite right and yep I eat healthy so I stayed the same plus bless those Asian genetics.

    I say laugh it off because the best things comes in small packages too = diamonds, pearls, etc. :)

    Being petite and loving it.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Claud

    A foolish words deaf ears :)

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Russian Chic

    Roxanne,

    Not all people making such comments are unkind. Some of them are just unschooled. The best is to forgive them and don't let it bother you.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Russian Chic

    I was offended by my father’s comment that by bum is like sparrows knee. Now I laugh about it. I’m learning to accept and love my tiny self regardless of other people comments. I get plenty of inspiration from AN. Thank you.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Rachel

    @jamie

    I'm sorry to hear you've been sick, I know how hard that is to be even smaller because of illness. You probably already do this, but just in case: I drank Ensure when I had a prolonged stomach condition and couldn't eat well for a couple of years. I drank like 3-4 a day. Thay taste a lot better than they used to, the vanilla is the least chalky. They really helped me to maintain a somewhat healthy weight and not get too terribly scrawny!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Ashley

    I've experienced this same problem.
    I was recently called a midget at my friends wedding. Even with my 4'' heels, I was by far the shortest girl in the bridal party, at just 4'10''. I was shorter than all the other girls, including the bride by about a foot. I was really offended by this comment, I didn't know what to say so I just walked away. It's amazing how clueless some people are. I guess they don't realize saying things like that are quite rude.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Revanche

    I've been getting these sorts of comments all my life as I used to be *rail* thin, weighing in at 75 pounds and 4'11" back when I was a young teen and barely managing tp hover in the low 90s mid twenties.

    The most outrageous and sometimes obnoxious comments I would get were from Chinese mothers who would deride my slimness as a clear defect regardless of how much I ate because as far as they were concerned, I didn't look like "their" people so I was "wrong." This from people who were once that slim. SMH.

    Most other people are just incredibly amused by it but don't have a clue about what you've described about proportions and the fact that a few extra pounds on our smaller frames feels much like several multiples of that might feel on them.

    For the longest time I tried to gain weight, to reach 100 pounds, just because I wanted to reach the three digit mark. It's happened exactly once and I quickly dropped back down to normal range cause I'm pretty sure that was water weight. We have a standard that our bodies tend to stick to and that's just how we are barring unusual circumstances.

    Now I just eat until I'm full and happy. That's all that matters. :)

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Anonymous

    I thought this was a very good post and something many petites deal with. When I was a little over a year, I only weighed 14 lb. My mother went into the doctor crying one day because everyone kept telling her there must be something wrong with me. He told her that I was perfectly healthy and that some people are just born small. Now at the age of 27, I'm 5'-2" and about 92 lb…and I'm still small…or a miniature tall person, as my mother calls me.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    AubreyOhDang!

    I just say, "If you're really worried and want to see me eat, I'm available tonight for dinner…on you!"

    In this society, nobody is perfect. You get comments if you're fat, thick, curvy, petite, short, skinny, etc.

    I have a friend who is 6'0 tall. I always thank my lucky stars that you can hem or size down clothes, but you can't add material to make them longer or bigger. =p

  • Reply May 28, 2011

    Jen

    I know this post is a few months old but I wanted to comment anyway!  Thank you for creating this discussion.  I’m like you in the respects you’ve mentioned here: always getting comments about my weight/size, I eat ALL DAY (although in small portions), and am a different person –in terms of mood–before and after eating. ;)  (In fact I need to carry a bag of almonds or something with me at all times.)  I’m 5’2″ 95-98 pounds and while I don’t feel abnormally small a lot of other people seem to think so and feel it’s their right to tell me so.  The fact that I’m also mixed race makes me a double whammy of confusion which leads to more rude remarks.  (“What are you?” says total stranger.)  But I like what another commenter said (one who said she is older than most of us here): comments make her smile and she’s heard every rude remark in the book!   I have definitely grown a thicker skin or somehow I’m more able to let such comments slides right off.  Actually, it bums me out that I don’t get carded as much as I used to!  (I’m 35.)  Anyway, sorry for the long comment but I just wanted to thank you and also say I enjoyed reading the comments.  

    • Reply May 28, 2011

      Alterations Needed

      Thanks for the comment Jen! It also helps to realize that most rude comments come from other people’s insecurities with their own bodies and weight. Helps those comments slide right off. ;)

      Have a great weekend!

  • Reply June 9, 2011

    Roo

    For depending on how the comment is stated depends on how I respond. Some people (usually older women) think they are paying you a compliment by saying you looks so tiny, or your waist is so tiny (I’m a curvy petite). I just smile and move on. If  its stated with intent to hurt or ridicule I’ve gone back at them I’m embarrassed to say. I had one lady keep on at me all night, so when she said you need to put on a few pounds I just said with a smile, well I’m sure you don’t have that issue. Makes me as bad as her I know I just couldn’t take it anymore.

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