I'm using this for the common app's "Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you" prompt. Any advice is appreciated! Please don't be nice.
"Brett, you're so fat." "Lose some weight!" These were not uncommon statements heard at my lunch table during middle school. I have been unusually underweight for the majority of my life, and dealing with the comments, opinions, and envy directed toward my physical condition has certainly been an interesting experience, one that has and will continue to alter my life and my perception of others, as well as myself.
I suppose my friends at the lunch table saw this type of sarcasm as entertaining, but I certainly did not. It wasn't because I was uncomfortable with my thinness, but was more associated with not appreciating the attention that it drew. My introvert instincts told me to sit there and quietly laugh along. This memory is one of the few blemishes on my otherwise positive middle school experience.
I would often wonder if I should have been offended by the comments. What if I were obese? An obese person would almost inevitably become angry or upset if one of his friends jokingly said, "you're so thin." Why is being underweight any different? Many might answer that being thin is perceived as desirable, but I don't feel this is true when others consistently draw attention to it.
I've also had countless discussions with counselors and peers genuinely concerned with my health, asking me about my eating habits and eating disorders. At one point, my parents attempted to encourage me, saying I should try to "beef up." I half-heartedly complied, but never dedicated myself to this cause because I saw no imminent need to gain weight. I was perfectly fine how I was.
Eventually, of course, the sarcastic comments and semi-awkward discussions began to fade away. Either my friends grew tired of using the same lines, or they actually began to mature. Now, I am still occasionally reminded of my lack of fat, but most people have come to accept my diminutive width. There are still the times when a stranger will approach me and say, "ohmygosh, you're so thin!" But I just thank them and move on to the next subject.
Living as an underweight male in a world where over one billion adults are overweight and in a country where nearly a third of the population is obese isn't easy. Everything from school food to ??? is optimized for overweight people. At least those affected by obesity have strength in numbers: there are enough to create a huge market for weight loss services and products, a luxury that is unquestionably more widely available than weight-gain services. However, I am not saying I have no empathy for people who are overweight. In fact, my experiences have shown me just how difficult it can be to change your weight.
I truly don't resent any of the comments my friends made about me because I don't believe they were intended to be malicious in any way. In fact, I am still good friends with most of the people who sat at that lunch table. I continue to be content with being underweight, and appreciate the difference in my life that this condition has created.