Overhearing 17-year-olds fixating on how much weight you can gain and still look 'normal' has made me distinctly uncomfortable of late
When you are on the svelte side yourself, you get some defensive reactions about tackling the subject of skinniness in a column. It is not even a subject I bring up with my own friends as I get tired of being told that it is 'alright for some'.
But overhearing 17-year-olds fixating on how much weight you can gain and still look 'normal', and seeing women lunch on a cup of soup and a cracker has made me distinctly uncomfortable of late.
I'm all for healthy eating, but with a diet like that how can anyone concentrate for so much as an afternoon?
When I was growing up I honestly don't remember our weight ever being a subject for discussion at school. On reflection, there was some kind media speculation about the weight of well-known people such as Fergie, but we did not have Smash Hitsharping on about the waistlines of its cover stars. Now whole shelves worth of weeklies proclaim celebrities to be too fat/thin/ugly at whim.
What I did have in common with the girls being gawped at and those who seem to ape them is that I grew very tall very fast, which can make your figure seem out of proportion.
Genetics aside, I know I'm fortunate, unlike some of my pals, not to have a parent who remarks that they should not indulge in so much as a biscuit even just after completing a 10km run. Or make pointed comments when they have a cake instead of some grapes for pudding.
Aged 18, I began withering away because I could not be bothered to cook for myself when I went to university, so my mother primed old friends to find out if I was starving myself. I spent the Christmas holiday glued to the fridge, eager to make the most of free food and show my poor mum I was still very fond of eating.
But looking back I was not as skinny as some of the girls I have seen tottering down Oxford Street or trying on size 6 get-ups in Top Shop. Size 6! I read that shops are having to order in more of these tiny sizes because enough women are prepared to eat as little as possible in order to be able to fit into them.
Blame the skinny jeans phenomenon for that one. I tried a pair on once and could barely breathe to tell the tale. I may be slim but I know my limits.