General Question

gondwanalon's avatar

Why are you so skinny?

Asked by gondwanalon (21015points) October 21st, 2020

Do people ask you why you are so skinny?
Do they encourage you to eat more?
How do you respond?

When they ask me why I’m so lean I try to be kind and say something like when I eat more, I have more energy and I get more active and burn it off. Or just change the subject and talk about them.

Sometimes I feel like saying something like, “Why are you so fat?”. But never have the nerve.

I’ve been the same weight plus or minus a couple pounds sense I was in high school (I’m 69). I’m 5’ 11” and weigh 142 + or – 2 pounds. BMI 21 or 22. I’ve seen many doctors for different reasons in my life and no doctor has told me that I need to gain weight. Also I have a running buddy who is a medical doctor who is even leaner than I am.

What say you?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

78 Answers

janbb's avatar

Maybe you could answer, “Guess I’m just lucky.” That should shut them up.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

When I was younger I ran wherever I went full tilt and more. I stopped running and I went from 165lbs. to 262lbs. If I am in a rush I take a cab. I only walk.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes, I’ve been asked that my whole life and it never stops being awkward, though I’ll take compliments on my thinness. :)

As a kid I was downright underweight. Today I’m 5’7” and 127 lbs or so. It’s not acceptable to comment on someone’s above average weight but below average is fine to point out and ask about. In both cases it’s out of supposed “concern” but I think in the case of thin people sometimes the people asking may just be a bit jel.


zenvelo's avatar

I’d answer, “good genes”.

If this is the most annoying thing in your life, consider yourself blessed.

(My weight has fluctuated a lot over my life, and now I have heart disease making it harder to exercise enough to keep my weight under control.)

Pandora's avatar

@zenvelo Saying genetics is the cause usually stops people. I’ve never been considered skinny even when younger and fit because petite people rarely look skinny, just small. So I use to get why are you so small or short. To which I would say, have you heard of genetics? If I really didn’t like the person, I would say something like, ahh, you never learned of genetic. That explains a lot. And if I felt they were trying to be snide by their remark, then I would ask why are they so ignorant or stupid? Some people genetics makes them short and others stupid. I prefer short. Though that won’t always work with being thin because it isn’t always about genetics. You can tell them it’s genetics and it makes no difference if I eat a ton. Sometimes it may actually be out of concern. Thinking someone is neglecting their health.
I bet you get that question more when you are looking under the weather.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I personally don’t get that as I run @ 20lbs overweight usually, but my husband and uncle and cousin all get it all the time. I also had a lot of skinny girlfriends growing up who got teased far worse than the males in my life.

Are you sick? Why aren’t you feeding him/them? What’s up Stringbean? Hey Big Guy! Dang are you losing weight? So annoying and rude.

While I probably wouldn’t be rude in return, I’d probably use @janbb response.

LuckyGuy's avatar

“Diet, exercise, and metabolism. I love it! I haven’t found anything in life that is made better or more enjoyable by lugging 40 pounds of extra weight on my belly.”

filmfann's avatar


hmmmmmm's avatar

People have asked me this many times in my life. I’m currently attempting to lose 20 pounds, so I haven’t heard it much lately.

I either tell them the truth (“luck/genes”), or I make up something uncomfortable (“the crystal meth suppresses my appetite” or “I’m dying”).

lastexit's avatar

Some women have told me not to lose any more weight or I won’t look good anymore. When I was a kid other kids would say “you’re so skinny”, so I’ve been this way my whole life. On the other hand, some tell me I must have good genes to be able to eat whatever I want and not have to worry about gaining weight.

I agree it can be very annoying and sometimes I do feel like telling them they could stand to lose a few pounds, but I don’t want to stoop to their level. I would use the “must be my good genes” response. That way you let them know that you consider your lean body to be an asset without tearing them down in the process.

Demosthenes's avatar

@hmmmmmm the crystal meth suppresses my appetite

I’m saying that next time. Or more specifically: “I don’t know, man, meth is a hell of a drug…”

Zaku's avatar

“Skinny genes…”

ragingloli's avatar

“I am getting a good workout everytime I meet your mum”

Blackberry's avatar

“I have a high metabolism and I grew up poor” lol.

jca2's avatar

Smart people wouldn’t comment on someone else’s body, whether it’s weight or whatever. What if the person was sick and didn’t want to discuss it? A friend told me she is breaking up with her husband and she’s lost 5 lbs and doesn’t want to eat. What if someone commented on her weight loss and here it is, not due to something happy?

kritiper's avatar

When I was 16 I was skinny. 6’0”, 130 lbs.
Now I’m 6’2”, 225 lbs.!
What happened???

gondwanalon's avatar

Thanks you all. Many good suggestions.
I don’t know about genes but I’m very lucky. There are a lot of very unlucky people out there that are suffering with diseases who can’t control their weight.

cookieman's avatar

I’ve never ::sniff:: been asked that question. ::sob::

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I’m certainly not skinny. I’m female, 5’6”, and 125 lbs. According to the BMI tables, I’m comfortably within the Normal Weight range.

But, people do ask me how I stay so “skinny.” I believe what they’re really asking is, “How do you avoid gaining weight?” I give the honest answer: I count calories every day, and I work out 6X per week. There’s no magic going on, just my determination, at age 65, never to become frumpy and matronly.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Love_my Now that you mention age, I’ve noticed a lot of women in your age group and older are fastidious about it. I wonder why that would be? More focus on physical activity or ?

My grandmother used to say she never weighed over 130lbs even pregnant six times. She was proud of it.

My MIL is 70 something and smoking hot, maybe 115lbs, still colors her hair, too.

Ariel's avatar

I know right? I’m skinny and I’ve always heard that all my life. It’s like it’s ok to say anything to someone who is skinny really, even things that are kind of mean sometimes.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband lost a lot of weight since March and I want him to gain weight. It’s too extreme.

Why is he so skinny? Because he isn’t eating enough calories and his family made him feel fat as a child, which was ridiculous if you look at his photos. I keep telling him if he gets sick he will die. Any sick, I don’t mean just covid. I’m thinking of starving myself so he will stop.

When I was a little girl adults would sometimes tell me I was too thin and my mom, aunt, grandma, whoever I was with, would interrupt and say, “she’s perfect just as she is don’t tell her that.” My own answer was kind of a shrug and “I don’t know” but I was elementary age. Lol.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@KNOWITALL There are some mature ladies at my gym who are exercise BEASTS! They work out regularly and do amazing things.

My favorite class instructor is age 56, looks 20 years younger, and is in jaw-dropping shape.

Brian1946's avatar

Uuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnn, human brains have no calories.

Zaku's avatar

@Brian1946 Sure they do. Whether eaten, used for heating, or whether you’re talking about their energy consumption.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I have found that the response “WHY does it bother you so much?” works well for many different situations as it often sends them into a tailspin from which few seldom recover!!!

Mimishu1995's avatar

Not skinny, but slim. I have encountered mostly positive comments about my weight. Most people think my weight is just right. There are occasions when I lose weight and people comment about that, but it’s just out of concern for me. And most of the time when I do appear skinny, it’s because I’ve had an intense period of working hard or because I wear the wrong clothes.

jca2's avatar

“Why are you so stupid?”

“Why are you so ugly?”

LostInParadise's avatar

Skinny? When was the last time you had your eyes examined?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I got a lot of that, with special displeasure from over weight people. I have never been a big eater. Now when they ask “How do you stay so skinny??” I tell them I only eat once a day, around 4 or 5 pm. Then I get lectured, which is stupid.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I disagree with the gene excuse. People are simply eating more calories than they’re burning so the excess calories are stored as fat in the body.
People like the “gene” theory because it absolves them of responsibility. It’s not their fault. They have no control. Nothing they can do.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@Dutchess_III: “I disagree with the gene excuse.”

How are you on other scientific explanations of biology? Or anthropogenic climate change? Or natural selection?

I understand that it might make you feel good to believe that you have more control than you do over your own biology, but denying science isn’t doing you or anyone else any good.

Even if science didn’t have anything to say about genetics and weight, you’d still have to contend with economics and a whole host of other variables that are far beyond your’s or everyone’s control.

So, spend a few more minutes basking in the glow of uninformed pride about yourself. Then try the slightest bit of introspection to attempt to find out why you feel the need to want to assign blame so bad that you have rejected those pesky things like science, economics, etc.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The “science” is simple. You ingest more units of energy (which is what a calorie is) than you burn, it gets stored as fat.
What science can you provide that says otherwise?

JLeslie's avatar

I mostly disagree with the genes also. There are a few people who have genetic reasons, like fast metabolisms, or the part of the brain that signals hunger doesn’t work well, but mostly Americans eat too much that’s why they are overweight. The proof is how much fatter we are today compared to 50 years ago. We didn’t have a sudden burst of evolution and mutations across the population in that short time span.

Most thin people eat in the range that most of us should be eating. They exercise also usually, even if it’s just errands and chores.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@JLeslie: “The proof is how much fatter we are today compared to 50 years ago.”

Right! Good thing genes never interact with environment!


hmmmmmm's avatar

I think we’ve been over this before, but a few good reasons not to get too comfortable with fat-shaming is that…

- We are biological creatures who do not choose our height, hair color, hand size, etc. We also do not choose the genes that are connected to weight maintenance.

- While there are outliers, it’s becoming clear that for most people, long-term weightloss is nearly impossible. So, if you have ever gained weight, for whatever reason*, you may now be fighting a battle that is just not there for others. Note that this is a battle that research shows might be winnable for most people.

- * People who are obese are increasingly children. A child may never be able to maintain a healthy weight once they are grown and on their own, due to above.

- * The fact that environment and genes play roles are exactly why taking a “it’s their responsibility” fat-shaming attitude makes little sense. We know that changes in a culture’s diet results in weight gain. By definition, this means that there are additional external forces that have greater influence over individual choice.

- Fat-shaming is making people sicker and fatter.

- Fat-shaming is just a shitty thing to do. Don’t be that person.

hmmmmmm's avatar

^ Typo: “Note that this is a battle that research shows might be winnable for most people.”

Should be ”not winnable”.

JLeslie's avatar

@hmmmmmm I am not fat shaming. I’m talking about genes and weight. I need to lose weight myself. My father has been overweight, most often obese, my entire life. Someone’s weight has nothing to do with anything in terms of how I perceive someone, their mind, their abilities.

I even get disgusted when people talk about Trump’s weight and I want the guy out of office.

canidmajor's avatar

“I disagree with genes”...what a stunningly ignorant statement. Tell my friend who is Aleut that. And all you oh-so-smug ones who have inherited a tendency to higher metabolic rates that got your degrees from Facebook U, give me a break.
I am fat now because I didn’t prevent it, and frankly I prefer a certain amount of not-socially-sanctioned padding for various reasons, but I also come from a long line of mountain peasant stock, where the tendency to carry extra weight, for fuel and insulation, was a desirable trait, and so bred for. People like me survived.

And saying that weight has nothing to do with how one perceives people is like saying that you don’t see race. It’s A) absolute bullshit (social conditioning from early childhood sees to that) and B) simply negates, for your own convenience, any acknowledgement of that person’s entire heritage and a lifetime of a certain kind of experience.

“Why are you so skinny” is as offensive in some cultures and circumstances as “Why are you fat?” would be in ours.

If I were you, @gondwanalon, when people ask that, I would ask them back why they think it’s OK to ask such a personal question about my body.

zenvelo's avatar

Since I am the one who stated “good genes” as a response, let me clarify.

One’s inherited disposition to body shape and metabolism merely demonstrates how efficient one’s body is at processing the calories in/calories out equation.

I have a colleague (Stewart) who is 6 foot 3 and 175 lbs., while I am 5 foot 8 and weigh 215. Stewart eats pancakes with butter and syrup and bacon on a regular basis, he eats cheeseburgers 3 or 4 times a week. He often eats pizza at home, and loves ice cream. Stewart works out a little less than I do; maybe four afternoons a week.

If I ate like Stewart, I would be 250 lbs. I can get my body mass down to Stewart’s level through vigorous dieting; but my metabolism is much slower than his, even when I a exercising at a significant level.

And it is evident in our cholesterol levels. Stewart’s total cholesterol is in the neighborhood of 130, while mine without medication is in the 240 to 260 range. (My mother’s natural cholesterol level is over 300).

Ignoring genetics means ignoring individual body types.

KNOWITALL's avatar

So quarantine at home for 8 months has been very enlightening for me in my late 40’s.

I was raised to clean my plate (by family) and get three meals a day (FDA in school campaigns.) And I sure did!

Due to quarantine, I’ve lost 18 lbs and rarely eat more than once per day, like @Dutchess, Exercise has been limited due to my desk job (mostly dog walking), and without coworkers asking me to lunch and eating out, it’s actually happened without much effort. I don’t seem to get hungry often during the day while working.

Obviously I know many people have physical issues that do factor in, but for me, it was strictly exercise and calories. I hope to go back to work in the office eventually looking and feeling better than before Covid. I’ll never be skinny, and I’m okay with that.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo When I was 16 I was 125 pounds and 5’6”, thin, and did a decent amount of exercise and my cholesterol was 270. That is a mix of genes and what I eat. A close friend of mine eats eggs, and cheese, and meat and her cholesterol is 165. If I cut my cholesterol intake to nothing I can get it down to close to 200, but I have to eat no cholesterol, or very close to nothing.

@canidmajor I absolutely do not judge a person’s intelligence or whether they are a good person or not based on their weight. I didn’t say I don’t notice they are overweight, but it has no bearing on anything important. In fact, my estimate of overweight is different than others. I think I mentioned Trump above, I don’t even perceive him as fat, and yet I hear people drone on about it. They talk about his hair, I find that offensive. It distracts from what he is doing. Plus, I never assume anything. Some people are heavy because they are sick or hurt or taking medications.

Medical experts basically agree the majority of the population has a functioning endocrine system within normal limits, especially young people. We have much much higher rates of overweight children now, that’s not all genes. Or, do you think it is? Most of it is what they eat and what they burn off. Sure people are different shapes and sizes and some do burn off the calories faster than others just sitting still, but most people, especially young people, are within a normal range. As we get older it sucks, we can’t eat as much as we used to, believe me I know.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie: ”I mostly disagree with the genes also.“

And, you are not the only person on this thread. When I want to address you directly, I will @ you.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Oh sorry. I thought it was only two of us saying we don’t think genes is the big part of the equation for most people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I met my exes’ father and step mom for the first time, we went out to dinner. She was a heavy set woman. I finished before anyone else, and she said, “Is that ALL you’re eating??” Then, in a scathing voice she said, “Of course. That’s why you’re so skinny.”
It was not meant as a compliment.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

^^^ Years ago, I took a cooking course that emphasized low calories and healthful choices. A fellow classmate, a heavyset woman, asked me if I’d ever had a weight problem in my entire life. I replied that, no, I hadn’t. I told her that everyone has problems, but that weight wasn’t among my own. She gave me a look of abject hatred, disgust, and anger, then she didn’t speak to me for the duration of the course. Why does anyone need to behave that way?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Envy @Love_my_doggie. They know damn good and well what the problem is, and they know they can control it, but they just don’t want to have to address it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I found it interesting that the “Three meals a day thing” was touted by the FDA. I always assumed it was left over from the time the vast majority of Americans were farmers and working their butts off. They needed to replace those calories on a regular basis.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve retained that mindset because the vast majority of us aren’t that active, but still eating 3 times a day.

hmmmmmm's avatar


@Dutchess_III: “They know damn good and well what the problem is, and they know they can control it, but they just don’t want to have to address it.”


KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Nope it was a big campaign, the food pyramid, all through my elementary and junior high.

The three nutritionally complete meals (in one day), that is, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

longgone's avatar

@Dutchess_III “They know damn good and well what the problem is, and they know they can control it, but they just don’t want to have to address it.”

That’s a pretty scathing remark right there. Don’t you realize how much that must hurt all those for whom this stuff is difficult?

Most people would rather do without the health risks, the scorn, and the discomfort of extra weight. If it just took some guilt for motivation, we would all be lean. We would also all exercise every day, never smoke or drink, meditate at sunrise, steer clear of processed food, get at least eight hours of sleep, read poetry instead of watching reality TV or reading trashy novels, volunteer for good causes, and never lose our temper.

And we certainly wouldn’t make scathing comments about other people’s body shape :]

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just grew up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t remember any school campaign.
Also, they didn’t serve breakfast when I was in school. They also didn’t allow snacking in the classroom, but they do now. In fact, they send people around with snacks for the kids! They have a 2nd breakfast.
It’s just out of control.

JLeslie's avatar

I would have guessed most kids eat 4 times a day. Breakfast, lunch, snack after school, and dinner. I see now that might be not true at all. I wonder what the majority of kids do have as their meal times.

Growing up we had the 4 food groups. The food pyramid was in the early 90’s I think?

Sometimes I think the 4 food groups was more realistic, although I do think people can go without dairy altogether and be better off, but for the average American the 4 food groups made sense, was easy to understand the visual, because it looked like a plate, and I think it especially worked for children.

I remember hearing “breakfast is the most important meal of the day“ when I was growing up.

Edit: my school lunches at the cafeteria were hamburgers, pizza, tacos, a side of vegetable or fruit. It wasn’t super heathy food, but it was small portions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’d say it’s still 3 times a day. Our whole society is built around it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I agree with that. I agree about what you said about our society being built around the 3 times a day structure, but as kids we came home from school starving. All of my friends, we all ate something when we got home from what remember. Sometimes we split a sandwich or had a piece of fruit or some cookies, some sort of snack.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah I did too! Mom always had Ding Dongs in the freezer. I’d eat a Ding Dong and watch Gilligan’s Island.
Sometimes I had a piece of cinnamon sugar toast.
Then we’d have dinner at 6.

KNOWITALL's avatar

You both had it better than I did, I got Little Debbie’s until junior high, then got switched to Fruit Roll-Ups. Mom never bought much junk food, except potato chips and I’m not a big fan of them.

My grandparents had the sweet tooth but it was treated like gold, we usually got one each.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mom would cook desserts, but only for dad. We kind of couldn’t have any.
She also didn’t buy much junk food, not even potato chips.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III I know a few families who kept snacks under lock and key.
My husband’s family did as well as 2–3 friends families. So weird.

I know what you mean. Those snacks were really for grandpa, since he worked so hard and burnt so many calories, so kids got one each. He could eat the entire package lol.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL Lock and key? My vegetable bin solution was much simpler!

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Did you have dessert after dinner regularly?

Dutchess_III's avatar

My dad would get chocolate covered cherries. He made them last a couple of days. Occasionally he allowed me to have one (1).
When I had kids I trained them to get me chocolate covered cherries for Christmas every year!

I know you were asking @Knowitall but we never had dessert after dinner. Dad would eat HIS dessert later in front of the TV.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Nope. Unless it was a special occasion or company was over. They always had vanilla ice cream and hersheys syrup though. We hated vanilla lol.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess I LOVE choc cherries and choc covered strawberries. My grandma loved those boxed Christmas cherries. I got like one, like you, so if I get a whole box I get the excited kid feeling again haha!

JLeslie's avatar

My dad liked chocolate covered cherries, I love them. I was born on national chocolate covered cherry day.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Have you had any spectacular brand?

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL I’m fine with the drug store Cella’s, but in Memphis there is a local confectioner, Dinstuhl’s, that has amazing chocolates, including the cherries. They are famous for their chocolate covered strawberries and cashew crunch. Here’s the website

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Actually in the last 4 days I haven’t been able to eat. Just the thought of eating made me throw up….and on a completely empty stomach THAT is no fun.
Yesterday Rick brought me an apple fritter. I ate, maybe half of it, over 45 minutes. A tiny bit at a time. Next thing I knew my tum was cramping so bad I thought I was having a baby.
It’s been miserable, and I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last few days (weighed in at 121 last night….I haven’t been 121 since I was 14!)....I wanted to go to the ER, but I have no insurance.
I was holding out to go to the doctor tomorrow…but I woke up this morning all better!
I honestly laid in bed this morning for 2 hours after the dog woke me up, just reveling in the absence of pain.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I would think that maybe it was stress, since you are going through a lot right now, but the pain does not sound stress related, It sounds like something could really be physically wrong. You say cramping, so I assume it is not appendicitis pain. I’m sure you would now appendicitis is right side lower anyway.

I assume you would notice if you were jaundice. I think liver disease causes vomiting and loss of appetite that is the only reason I mention it. So many things cause loss of appetite and nausea though. Plus, maybe with liver disease the pain would not come and go, I don’t know.

Something isn’t right. I hope you can get it checked if it persists.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie, I don’t let stress get to me like that.
I figure it was a flu virus that ran its course (flu like I haven’t since I was a kid in the 70s.)
Anyway, I’m good now. Rick’s trying to tell me 121 means the battery in the scales is running low. I’ll get back to you on that.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok. LOL. That sounds like something my husband would say, except we have a solar powered scale, or whatever it is called.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What? Do you set your scales out in the sun every day to recharge them?

JLeslie's avatar

No, it is like the solar calculators, the scale works with regular lightbulbs. It doesn’t stay charged like solar lights in a garden that come on at night, it only works when the lights are on. I’ve owned it for 25 years, which is pretty good, especially since I have moved so many times.

I remember it was expensive compared to the battery operated scales though, I might have paid $40 or $50 for it. It’s a Tanita scale, I don’t know what they cost now. They have regular scales and body fat scales and not sure what else.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, shit. Rick changed the battery in the scales and I gained 15 pounds over night!

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, so much for that get skinny quick scheme. My new scales always have 122.5 as the default and I’ve been tempted to leave them like that. lol

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@Dutchess_III “I gained 15 pounds overnight!” Wow, that must be a new world’s record!

I know so many people who are complaining about pandemic weight gain. Boredom…lack of activity…restlessness… Maybe we all need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Love_my_doggie it’s because Rick changed the batteries in the scale! It appeared I was losing weight at a rate that started to alarm me! Then Rick changed the batteries. That put me back to 145 which is just right for me.

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