“But you’re thin!”

A friend-of-a-friend mentioned on a social networking site that she’d bought a thick foam topper for her mattress. After trying it out she’s thinking she won’t wake up with her hips hurting tomorrow.

I? Stopped myself from responding “But you’re thin!” Because the fact that she’s thin probably isn’t relevant.


It’s been a few hours since I posted this. Initially I wanted to just record my “But you’re thin!” moment, because it did surprise me. I know thin people with hip (or back or knee) problems. I know fat people who don’t have hip (or back or knee) problems. And yet…

My response also struck me as foolish because I know a lot of physical problems depend on multiple factors. Congenital factors, injury history, muscle strength, muscle balance, exercise habits, sleep habits, how well your bed/shoes/etc fits … it all goes together. It’s not just one thing.

I didn’t just injure my knees by being fat; my knees were fine until I decided I was more sedentary than I wanted and started exercising. I made a mistake in assuming that a mile a day was a reasonable place to start, and oh yeah I was recovering from a condition that commonly causes muscle loss. Did my weight make it harder for my muscles to adjust to more activity? Probably. Could a more gradual walking program, perhaps combined with weight training, have avoided the injury? Very possibly.

It’s not just one thing. In the case of the friend-of-a-friend, it may be just the bed. Or it may be related to other things too. Still, changing the bed may be enough, and if so, that’s great.


If you’re remembering me mentioning hip problems before — I did have some hip pain after 4 nights in an uncomfortable hotel bed at a convention I helped put together, but it was totally gone after a few weeks.  Next year will be in a new hotel, so hopefully the problem won’t repeat.

11 thoughts on ““But you’re thin!”

  1. I’m one of the fatties that doesn’t have joint pain. Well, unless I do something stupid like lift heavy things with my back or sit in a crap chair for long hours.

    The thing is with the whole body acceptance thing, it’s a process. Sometimes our thinking needs work, sometimes we slip back into old habits. We have to hone and practice our craft. I know I certainly do!

  2. Yeah, we have to remember we’re as much a product of a fat hating society as others. We absorbed these messages deeply, especially if fat from our formative years.

    They often are revealed in moments of stress or challenge. It’s only recently that any ache or unfamiliar feeling in the chest, upper arm, region hasn’t had my mind racing to:

    Is this heart attack??!!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s done that. For me it’s usually a panic attack brought on by stress at work.

      My younger brother spent YEARS with doctors trying to find a heart problem, only to discover he was having violent panic attacks. And he’s a string bean.

      Of course, the thought that you might be having a heart attack only makes the panic attack worse!

  3. It’s definitely a process, as sleepydumpling points out. The other day, a new person in the office was saying her feet hurt. I asked her what was wrong and she explained that she’s got some condition that probably will require surgery but she’s just REALLY REALLY hoping it goes away on its own!

    She’s thin – probably a size 10 – and very pretty. My gut reaction was “but you’re thin and pretty!”

    And then I went home and felt better when my own feet hurt…because maybe it’s weight and maybe it’s not. I needed the reminder.

  4. I had a similar brain-breaking moment this spring, when I spent an afternoon hanging out with a thin friend and found out that he suffers from joint pain. But he’s thin! And young! Shouldn’t that make him immune to health problems associated with being fat and old? I should have known better after a year of actively practicing HAES, but apparently my subconscious isn’t so quick to change.

  5. I didn’t have any joint pain either until I also decided I was too sedentary and tried to get into running…turns out one of my legs is slightly shorter than the other and I didn’t know until I started pounding my knee joint into injuryville.

  6. The hip pain may actually be because she’s thin- people who are very thin can have problems sleeping or sitting on hard surfaces, because there is less padding covering the bones, so there is more pressure on those areas.

  7. I agree with Rowan. I was a “thin girl” until the age of 30. It was my natural weight, but put me in a range where doctors often told me I needed to gain. I always had hip pain when sleeping. Not surprising, since my hip bones stuck out quite a bit. I spent most nights tossing and turning from one side to the other as my hip bones would start to ache something awful.

    At age 30 I was placed on a medication that significantly increased my weight. While the extra weight did increase my back and ankle problems, my hips completely stopped hurting when I would sleep. Padding has it’s benefits. ;-)

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