Skinny Jokes by Amanda Valdes

Amanda Mabel
Photo courtesy of Amanda Mabel

In the seventh grade, my friends accused me of being anorexic. It was supposed to be a joke.

I didn’t know if I should have taken that as a compliment or been offended but, when
people complimented me on how naturally skinny I am, it always gave me a sense of pride.
It made me feel better about myself.

Constantly wondering why I have been naturally so skinny. I had to remind myself that
growing up in a family where boxed macaroni and cheese was a luxury,
my body had adjusted to the hours without meals.

In fourth grade I remember the hands of classmates’ index fingers and thumbs wrapping
around my wrist counting how far their small fingers could go up my arm until the tips of
their fingers could no longer touch.
This was just another way of realizing how small I was.

The days I went to sleep hungry because there was nothing to eat became an
accomplishment. If there was nothing to eat in the first place why not see how small I could
make myself become?
Slipping the meals we did have into a napkin to throw it out, distracting my mother and
scraping my plate back into the pot.
It is easy to starve yourself when you’re already familiar with the nights of empty stomachs
where my stomach had no longer howled, it had been taught to be silent, to feel numb
instead of hungry.

It became easy to see my body as a burden, to use its emptiness to my advantage.

My junior year in high school in my adventure class we did trust falls with a partner. This
was when I used to win at how long I could survive on water.

The girls in my class who had their turn to catch me had remarked
oh my god, what are you ninety pounds?”

I replied ninety six

their eyes lit up like a child on Christmas and would praise me and say
“you are so lucky! I wish I could be that skinny!”
Though I laughed it off, I wanted to tell them that as much as I hated my body,
as much as I stopped eating, my weight was apparently perfectly normal for my height
being 4’11”.

How was I supposed to reach out for help if my body became a standing ovation. If being as
skinny as I was was still healthy.

If my sob story of poverty was already the excuse for my small body, who would believe I
wasn’t just hungry from lack of food my parents couldn’t provide, but be hungry enough to
crave the emptiness of my stomach for lunch.

I will never know why I have such a fast metabolism,
how adjusted my body has become over the years from my parents’ hopelessness for a
Why I wanted to be in a war with the skin I was in.

I got away with tossing my free meals from the school cafeteria out,
Surviving on water, spending nights doing sit ups until my body was floating in its
emptiness, followed by tears of frustration of feeling conflicted with the skin I was in.

My behavior wasn’t classified as a eating disorder, it was just seen as my family being in
poverty. I never had to admit I was sick because no one noticed.

I realized the worst part of being skinny is the compliments that shoot back like
boomerangs as girls decide to put my body on a wishlist.

it isn’t the best feeling when some people look at me like an apology as they see how thin
my wrists are.

My secret became a lifestyle. There would be days where the only thing I consumed was an
apple. My stomach became an empty attic filled with the words I couldn’t allow myself to
digest. That I was sick, that I had been hurting my body for too long.

I look at my body now that I’m improving and realize I’m still as small as I was when I was
sick. Is it an eating disorder if i’m small to begin with?
If my body won’t give up its water weight?
If the size of my body goes unnoticed, am I still supposed to see myself the same?





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Amanda Valdes is an 18-year-old writer who truly believes writing about personal experiences and struggles is incredibly empowering, especially through poetry. She’s a huge mental health advocate and more than anything wants to help others who need it. Her hope is to become a professional writer and be able to make a difference with her words. You can find more of her writing here:

Amanda Mabel is a fashion and portrait photographer living in Sydney, Australia. Originally from Singapore, she moved to Perth in 2011, then Sydney in 2012. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) (Honours) at the University of Sydney. In her free time, she loves taking photographs, travelling to beautiful places, and drinking tea. She also happens to blog for Vogue Australia Spy Style. She maintains a website at and can be found on:  Instagram  Facebook  LinkedIn  Pinterest  Tumblr  Bloglovin Flickr.

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