If you are familiar with the show Orange is the New Black, you might remember an episode from the first season where Piper kept seeing what was apparently a famous but elusive chicken running through the jail yard. In the episode, she tells some of the other inmates what she saw, inciting half of the prison to go in search of this chicken.
The prisoners told varying stories about origins of the chicken – including the supernatural. None of them can describe the chicken but they all know they want to get their hands on it, if for no other reason than to be remembered as the one who finally caught the chicken.
This gets so out of hand that one day while Piper is speaking to her friend on the phone she sees the chicken run past the barred window. A moment later the phone is hanging there, and Crazy Eyes picks up the phone and says, “Dandelion isn’t here no more – she went chasin the chicken.”
Here’s the clip:
Chasing the skinny chicken might have become the figure of speech that bests describes my life.
why i stopped chasing the skinny chicken
Don’t we all have an unrealistic goal (or two) for ourselves? I certainly do.
I have a habit of setting completely ridiculous goals for myself. I wrote about my body image issues in this post if you are interested.
In college I thought I would be able to reinvent myself as a sorority girl. Remember that show Felicity? I had this goal of living in the big city and finding true love. And I would be skinny. (because obviously being skinny led to finding true love. duh.)
In my 20’s I thought I could be like Carolyn Bessette and work in the fashion industry and marry a rich New Englander. But only if I were skinny.
All of these totally unrealistic goals had one thing in common:
I have always thought if I could be skinny enough my life would be perfect.
Being skinny is not the answer to everything and it will not make your life perfect.
How do I know? Let me share
Skinny Doesn’t make you sexy
To me skinny used to be all about the number on the scale. One of my best friends growing up was and still is a size zero. She probably weighs about 110 lbs. and stands 5’6’’. (After birthing two 8lb+ babies)
To my 15 year-old eyes, it seemed like she always got so much attention from the boys. Everywhere we went guys stared at her long thin legs and blonde hair. She was the picture of the 90’s waif.
This friend of mine, she is the definition of SKINNY. She is thin without trying. She can walk into any clothing store and try something on and it looks good on her. I always thought this was what I wanted.
So from the age of 15 I went chasing that skinny chicken. I would eat only what my friends ate, and would skip lunch at school. One time when a boy I had met called me, “the fat girl”, I stopped eating for like a week.
I lost weight. Sometimes this resulted in getting attention from men. But it did not make me feel sexy at all.
I was thin by most standards but I was so fixated on my body that I had no desire to be sexual at all. If that isn’t proof that skinny isn’t sexy I don’t know what is.
skinny doesn’t make you beautiful
As much as my definition of beauty has changed- and it has changed, I still spend a large amount of time thinking about my weight.
These days I am much stronger than I was as a teenager. I have muscle tone in my shoulders and thighs. I can carry my 45 lb. child up and down steps – and I lift weights at the gym.
The numbers on the scale do not matter to me as much. Instead, I hyperfocus on the fit of my clothing. I have the type of figure where my thighs are the biggest part of me, even bigger than my butt and hips.
As a married woman and mother I have a whole new group of friends to compare myself to – other moms! Yay (insert sarcasm). I will admit I am inching toward, crawling toward, some modicum of body acceptance.
Often when I am in public or watching television I can see the beauty in other women. Size isn’t an issue when I meet new people, either. In fact, I cannot recall the last time I thought about someone else’s body size.
Why can we appreciate the beauty in others but not ourselves?
Skinny doesn’t equal satisfied
At my thinnest I was working full time and socializing on the weekends. During the week I ate a pretty strict diet and I spent hours riding a stationary bike and counting calories.
If one defines success by dress size then I was successful. But I was also alone.
Working a job you do not enjoy, even when you are good at it, does not bring fulfillment. Neither does losing weight in an attempt to fill an emotional hole.
I have always had impossible standards for myself, so you would think that if I met my own expectations I would feel totally satisfied. Not so much. I just looked for other things to hyper focus on.
Promises to Ourselves
A while back I promised myself that I would not set so many crazy, nonsensical goals for myself. I would say that I have kept about 50% of this promise. Still dreaming of those size 4 jeans.
I no longer want to chase the skinny chicken.
Do I want to put nutrient dense food in my body? Yes
Do I want to lose body fat? Yes – but I also want to build muscle.
I want to be strong physically and mentally. I cannot be either when I am fixated on body weight.
I have been skinny and I have been fat. (Yes I used the word fat.) Both conditions come with their own set of issues. But skinny is no longer appealing to me.
Skinny will never make you happy. Skinny will never fill your soul, any more than a bag of potato chips will. So we all need to stop chasing the skinny chicken.
What chickens are you chasing?