I'm male, 18 years old and nearly 6 feet tall. I've been very thin all my life. While I'm not in the habit of weighing myself regularly, I did for the purposes of this node; I'm about 58 kilos (around 130 pounds). It's plainly obvious when you look at me. Especially my wrists. I have very little visible arm muscle.

This of course, during primary school and earlier high school, brought derogatory comments. "Dude, are you anorexic?" People wrapping their fingers around my wrists to demonstrate how skinny I was. It didn't matter that I could just as easily wrap my fingers around their wrists. Nicknames like 'stick figure', 'chicken legs' and 'skeleton' stuck. At the time I thought it was stupid; why tease me for being underweight when there were people overweight by the same margin, not being teased at all? But as I figured out quite quickly, overweight people are a common sight. Underweights are usually only seen on TV in a humiliating documentary on how they're gradually being nursed back from the brink of death; distressing images of them being force-fed and immediately trying to either throw up or work off the energy.

I love food; I eat a lot, and constantly. When I get some time, I seriously want to learn to cook better (of course, being a geek sucks up all that time). For me, one of the best feelings is lying down in bed, with my stomach noticeably larger after a huge dinner. Of course, by that time I'm usually on my second or third dinner; I have a tendency to eat smaller amounts more frequently, rather than a large amount in one go.

One of the most humilating, yet most potentially fun situations I was placed in was several years ago during a school swimming meet. We had been doing laps, and it was a cold day. Of course, I got colder a lot quicker than everybody else. The teacher supervising us had noticed that (and the fact that the bottom of my ribcage pokes forward noticeably, almost like an additional pair of tiny breasts) and called me out of the pool. Of course, once I left the water I started shivering. I go up to him, and he says "What do you eat for breakfast? I don't think you're eating enough."

I was incredibly shocked. This is a teacher, someone who's supposed to be completely impartial, criticising my eating habits on the fact that I'm skinny. I was so shocked that I stammered "Umm... a bowl of Fruity-Bix". He then goes on to query me on my eating habits later in the day, suggesting that I eat several sandwiches for lunch, etc (most of which I was already doing anyway). I eventually staggered away, still shocked. It wasn't until about half an hour later that I realised that I should have said "How the FUCK is it any of your business?" and then threatened him with legal proceedings of some sort. At the very least, I could get my parents to call the school and get him in all sorts of shit. But of course I didn't at the time, so I missed my one chance to legitimately tell a teacher to fuck off. Oh well :-)

I don't know why I don't get fat. Maybe metabolism, maybe not. I never bothered to find out. I'm skinny, I can eat whatever the hell I want and not get fat. It's great. I can't imagine having to refuse to eat so that I don't put on weight. It would be torture to me.

As for strength, well... I'm not as strong as most people, in absolute terms. I'm plenty strong enough to carry computers around; once I left a LAN Party in a single trip; monitor on my left arm, case in the right arm, bag on my back. It's not something I'd do again, since the balance was crummy and I had to carry the lot down two lots of stairs, but I can do it. Computers are about the most taxing of my everyday loads.

My strength, in relative terms, is immense though. Lifting my own body weight with my arms is an absolutely trivial matter. I love indoor rock climbing, and even though I don't get to do much of it any more, I kick ass at it. One of the practice walls at the centre we used to frequent was a bunch of wooden blocks on an incline towards you; the idea is you climb it using just your arms. I got to the second top rung (about 1.5 metres above the starting point) before slipping off; I fell and nearly hurt my hip, because I'd forgotten to put the mat under me before I started. I can do chin-ups with three fingers of each hand. Awkward walls with large overhangs are fairly easy, since I can climb the difficult sections using just my arms. Relative to my own body weight, I am extremely strong.


Something I figured out recently: when I was about 8 years old I was on the bus to school. A woman gave me two dollars and said 'go to the shop and get yourself something'. I never figured out why that was, but I'm guessing she thought I was undernourished or something.

Yes, I've had similar experiences, also being skeletally thin all my life. I tend to look like I've been starved for a few weeks too long, and when I inhale I can look positively emaciated. I was "stringbean" or "spaghetti" in elementary school, or other names folks could think of. Coupled with my generally non-athletic demeanor and personality, I was an easy target in fourth grade... In High School, when changing for gym class, I got dubbed "The Dachau Kid," in a show of incredibly poor taste (this was at a Jewish High School).

On the other hand, people watching me eat have commented that I look like I haven't eaten in weeks. I can fast for a day without much trouble, or skip meals with impunity, but when the mood strikes mind and/or body I can annihilate rather frightening amounts of food in very short order. I haven't gained much weight in years; maybe ten pounds in the past ten years. I don't gain or lose much, as a rule. I don't exercise much, and even when I did it didn't show. I got stronger, but you couldn't tell it from looking at me, unless you looked closely.

No, being skinny isn't all peaches and light for a guy: you can be too thin. I think I have to admit I'm happier this way than the opposite, though, and there's something to be said for being unusual in a world of normalcy, so I'm not sure I'd be happier being "normal" either.

For a girl with a medium frame, being on the thin side of average is not a picnic. People make nasty little comments at you when they think you aren't listening. Walking to the bathroom in a crowded restaurant and hearing someone comment that it's time for you to maintain your figure by vomiting does not boost one's self esteem.

It doesn't make me feel good to be thin, it doesn't turn clothes shopping into a runway fashion show, it turns it into a back biting snobbish nightmare. Saleswomen give you clothing two sizes too small to try on, saying "Oh, well you look like a size 2!" and then scurrying away. 5'6", with 38" hips that stick out sharp little bones does not equal size 2, it does not equal acceptance into the my body is the best club, it equals just as much heartache as anyone else's body.

For years I ate way more than would be appropriate for my activity level in order to try and gain weight. I wore baggy clothes so that people would stop calling me "bones." My elbows still stick out and stab people, and I still get to hear such wonderful phrases as "if you turn sideways, you disappear!" This despite the fact that I am within my ideal weight range, have a bit of a gut (on purpose), and am well out of the extra small range of sizes at all major department stores. Being anything outside of the perfect average gets you bullshit, no matter which side of average you fall on.

Just so you know, this condition can go away. I had many similar experiences. I am male with a frame that is meant to support a lot of muscle ... none of which I developed. In high school, I wore a 28" waist, weighed in the mid 100s and should weigh closer to 200. I think for 6'4" I was supposed to weigh exactly 200. Now, I weigh about 210 or so with a approximately 35" waist. I never developed that muscle to fit my frame, so I still look skinny in some parts -- but lack of activity and a slowing metabolism of middle age has caused that extreme skinniness to be a goofy "skinny with pot-belly."

So, don't know if this is good news or bad. I've never changed my eating habits, though. I eat copious amounts. (And I don't really gain weight very fast... I've come to my current weight after 10 years... And maintained it for the last 5.)

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