There is a woman in my extended social group that I see once in a while. She is extremely thin. If she were on TV, she would probably fit in with everyone, but in 'real life' she stands out as being exceptionally skinny. When a large group of acquaintances were in town, we would often go out to brunch. She would ask for a cup of oatmeal, hold the syrup and cream, or maybe the "two eggs and toast" meal, except she didn't need the toast, thank you, and only one egg. When she got her food, she'd pick at it, eat a bite or two, and move the rest around her plate till everyone finished. If we got together at someone's house, she'd eat a few of the organic tortillas that she'd brought with her own homemade guacamole, and nothing else.

I felt her eating habits almost as a slam against mine. I was so conscious of her meal that I couldn't enjoy mine, and I would start to rationalize the difference in what we ate. "If that's all I'd be able to eat to look like that, I'm glad I don't." "At least I enjoy my food." "Why is she so desperate to avoid gaining weight that she couldn't let herself try something new?"

Once, when I'd gotten to know her a little better, she confided in me one night that she had had a couple severe allergic reactions to food in the past, and as a result she had major issues trusting any food that she had not herself prepared from scratch. Immediately, every thought I'd ever had about the way she ate ran through my head, and I was ashamed. All the times when I thought she was judging me were entirely my own fabrications. When we spent more time together, I saw how athletic she was, and how she could outlast me in almost any physical activity. There was nothing dangerous about her weight or lifestyle; she simply ate carefully, exercised frequently, and was gifted with the genes and the height to allow those two habits to result in a thin frame.

Once I was aware of how I'd been unconsciously (or consciously) looking down on her for no reason, I thought of other times in my past. In high school, my friends and I would whisper to ourselves about the girls with thigh gaps, who obviously had anorexia (or so we would say). There had been a number of times when I had been jealous of coworkers for being able to eat whatever they wanted and stay skinny, only to find out later that they also went running every day, rain or sun, and worked hard so that they could eat anything they wanted. Were they judging me for not doing the same? Perhaps. But that doesn't excuse the fact that I was also judging them in my incorrect assumptions.

Some women here have mentioned that skinny-shaming isn't an issue since it's not as endemic as fat-shaming. However, when has that stopped us from championing other causes that aren't in and of themselves the worst things possible? Just because someone has it worse than you doesn't mean that you don't have a problem.

I've gone shopping with thin women who are embarrassed to ask sales clerks for a size smaller than 2 or 4, because they're afraid it sounds like bragging. I know a coworker who has had to allow a nurse come in her home and monitor her cooking, because her doctor didn't believe she could be as thin as she was unless she had a dangerous eating disorder. It turned out she had a rare thyroid disorder, but he didn't test her for that until she proved that she was eating 3 hearty meals a day.

I know people are pretty sick of hearing about this topic, but I just thought we should start by acknowledging that skinny-shaming does happen, even here on GT. It's definitely better here, but I have seen references to 'skinny bitches' on this site (which now always makes me question why it's necessary to reference the weight of a bitch) when relating stories about people's days. I don't want to comment on anyone's intentions in what they have said- I can only know for sure what I myself have really thought in the past, and how easy it is to pass off judgement as concern. I know that I still need to consciously monitor my own obsession with my own weight when I'm listening to other people talk about their own issues. If you're happy and healthy (and only you and your doctor are allowed to comment on that) at a size 0, feel free to brag about it! If you're happy and healthy at a size 18, do the same. I promise to celebrate with you, no matter your size. If you are working to change your weight (for any reason), I'll do my best to support you.

ETA- if I wasn't clear, I think my point is that arguing whether skinny-shaming is worst than, equivalent to, or less harmful than fat-shaming isn't productive. I don't want to comment on that. I just want to personally vow to stop projecting my issues onto other people, and to try to support everyone here who wants it.