I have a big secret.

(Hint: it’s not that big).

But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let me tell you about myself.

I am a runner. And when I say runner, I mean someone who genuinely enjoys the act of running. I don’t do it for the competition, I don’t do it so that I can fit into a size two (I can’t, by the way), I do it because it gives me real joy that keeps me relatively sane. I train for marathons because to me, going for a 16-mile run is an act of meditation. Being a runner, I have great legs. Yeah, you heard right. My legs are awesome. But it’s not because I think they’re thin (what is a thigh gap?). I don’t consider myself skinny. I don’t consider myself fat either, because, well, obviously there’s a middle ground. But I think somehow there has emerged this binary of skinny and, as many label it, “curvy” that we have created. And the weird thing is, “we” is usually women, typically fueled, sadly, by a resentment that tends to follow body image insecurities. And it is absolutely ridiculous.

Take, for example, two of the most popular songs right now: “Anaconda,” and “All About That Bass.” Both express resentment toward the group of women formally referred to as “the skinny bitches.” Although I do not personally identify as a “skinny bitch,” I still think that the underlying messages in these songs are both immature and damaging. Nicki Minaj sings (sings?) “Fuck the skinny bitches,” and ends her message there, celebrating her “fat ass” by insulting those without one. Meghan Trainor also attempts to celebrate her body and her booty, saying “I’m bringing booty back / Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.” She then adds the incredibly condescending remark, “No I’m just playing, I know you think you’re fat,” as if body image issues that so many women face should be taken lightly. As if it is some sort of joke that by age six, girls begin to be concerned about their weight, and in the United States alone, 20 million women suffer from eating disorders. Saying, “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” is then just a nice backhanded compliment.

One of my friends recently posted a picture of herself on Facebook that juxtaposed a picture from about a year ago and a picture from a few weeks ago, clearly showing how much weight she has lost. It got 138 likes. People that she hadn’t talked to in years, or that she had forgotten she was even friends with on Facebook, were liking this picture. Compliments rained down. Yes, the change is quite remarkable and damn, she looks great. But do any of these 138 people know that she is taking medicine that all but obliterates her appetite? That she sometimes goes entire days without feeling any desire to eat, and sometimes finds herself physically weak after completing simple tasks like sweeping the floor? She knows it’s not healthy, and we’ve talked about my concern for her health. And she’s really trying to change, to eat more, eat healthier and to remind herself that even if she doesn’t feel hungry, she needs to give her body fuel. But other people don’t see this. They don’t see health. They see curvy and they see skinny.

Because I hold the uncommon combination of being both a runner and a vegetarian, maybe I am more aware than many women of basic nutritional needs. I must pay closer attention to how much protein, iron and calories in general I am eating; luckily for me, I get to make sure I’m getting enough. I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m full (sometimes) and I do my best to eat as many fruits and vegetables and natural foods as I can. I am hyperaware of my health because I have to be. You can’t run marathons on (only) mac and cheese.

This is where the secret comes in.

I weigh about 150 pounds.

There, I said it.

And the thing is, I always feel kind of ashamed to admit that number.

Although this is a perfectly healthy weight for someone my age and height, it does put me at the 80th weight percentile. And the funny thing is, you’d never guess it if you saw me. In fact, my friends are actually comfortable joking about how “fat” I am, because they think it is absurd that I or anyone else would ever consider me fat. Which is why the only time I ever bother stepping on a scale is when I’m at the doctor’s office — it’s just not something I worry about.

Does my weight matter? God, no. I am healthy, and that is what matters. Do I sometimes (OK, maybe more than sometimes) supplement my black beans and kale with a large quantity of chocolate? Definitely. But rather than focusing so much on “skinny” or “fat,” or numbers on a scale, we need to start focusing on health, and how we feel. On the health scale, I’m doing great. Hell, I can run 26.2 miles. And then eat as much as I damn well please.

Rachael Lacey is an LSA junior.

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