Born Skinny

10 Jul

Welcome to The Skinny. The Skinny is a blog primarily dedicated to “life as an extreme ectomorph.” That is, most entries will relate in some way to the particular circumstances of that extremely small subpopulation of people who are of very thin body build. The point is not to aggrandize this condition, but to promote the reality of the situation, which is that some people truly are, quite naturally, extremely skinny.

The extreme ectomorph was a thin child, a thin adolescent, and, without serious intervention, will remain a thin adult. The extreme ectomorph has as much, if not more, difficulty putting on weight as any heavy person has losing weight. The extreme ectomorph almost always has serious body image issues.

Most importantly, the extreme ectomorph has a very, very difficult time finding any kind of information pertaining to this topic. In a world where 98% of people struggle with the exact opposite problem, life as an extreme ectomorph can be a very lonely situation indeed.

That’s why The Skinny was born.

As an extreme ectomorph I have spent a lifetime asking myself so many questions and searching for the answers. Why am I this way? Am I healthy, or should I be concerned? What other health issues might be associated with my weight? Why do people react so negatively to my build? Is it possible to put on weight, and if so, should I make an effort to do so? What is healthy and what is unhealthy in terms of gaining weight? Is being extremely skinny different for women than for men, and if so, how? How do I deal with people who insist on making me feel badly about my body? How can I feel better about my body? What is the best way to respond to (rude) comments that friends and even complete strangers apparently feel totally justified in making about my weight? What style of clothes look best on me? And once I’ve determined that, where in America do I find clothes that fit me?

These are just a few of the topics The Skinny will explore over time. You won’t find these discussions in women’s magazines, and it is only very recently (i.e., within the last 2-3 years) that I have seen any kind of forums online for extreme ectomorphs to discuss these issues frankly, and most of these are on body-building sites and are decidedly male dominated. Even so, many are valuable for the sheer feeling of identification one gets from having found others in the same boat. And while I hope to engender a culture of support for my skinny sisters and brothers through this blog, I’m not planning to moderate any forums, so an effort will be made to provide links to those that seem most helpful and insightful.

As with most blogs written by someone with a stake in the subject, this will be as much about my own self-discovery as it will be about the subject matter in general. Bear with me, my ectomorphic friends. We’re all here for the same reason. And now, to begin the journey.

Chana de Wolf
Chana de Wolf

8 Responses

  1. Sean says:

    I’m a little sad no one else has commented on this yet, Chana. It’s certainly heartfelt and well-written. I’ve read through it several times and felt your pain and frustration each time. Can you elaborate more about the kinds of discrimination, rudeness, and negative reactions you have received, if it is not too painful to do so?

    • Chana de Wolf says:

      To be perfectly honest, I had hoped to skip that part for the time being. I don’t want The Skinny to be viewed as a place for ranting about perceived injustices against thin people. Or, at least, I’d like to work in a few educational and upbeat posts before getting to the negative parts.

      But don’t worry, I definitely have a few things to say about the negative stuff, and I’m sure we’ll talk about them sooner than I’d like.

  2. Sean says:

    All in good time… I don’t mean to push you right into the pain pool or steer you into a rant. I’m just curious because, as you said, 98% of people really cannot relate (me included).

  3. Ian Coleman says:

    I’m a male extreme ectomorph. I’m 6’4” and I weigh about 175 pounds at age 59, although I was about 162 pounds in my late teens and early twenties. I have long since ceased trying to gain weight, and am really quite pleased with my body shape. The principal drawback of my body shape is that I lack stamina. I tire much more quickly than most men. The big advantage (and it is a very big advantage) is that I enjoy excellent health. I have the blood pressure of a young man. I am almost never ill.

    I used to cram myself with food in hopes of growing heavier. All this ever did was push my intestines out of shape, leaving me with a pot belly, as if I were carrying a small pumpkin in my pants. Once I gave that up, my body returned to its normal, flat-bellied state, and problems like chronic constipation and gas went away. I probably never eat more than 1500 calories a day, and can easily go twelve hours without eating anything. It is, as you might imagine, quite difficult to explain to most people that I don’t particularly like to eat. They think I’m anorexic, which is nonsense, as I’m perfectly healthy.

    Of course I wish I were a strong, vigorous mesomorph. But I’m not. I’m a thin man, and I don’t worry about it, because there really isn’t anything I can do about it. I can run five miles in less than 50 minutes, and that’s about the extent of my physical attainments, but at nearly 60 years old, that’ s better than most people. I am content.

    • Chana de Wolf says:


      Thank you for your comment. This is the reality of the situation for some of us and real-life examples help to illustrate that. I hope to bring that message closer to home soon by discussing some of the current science of weight and fat regulation, including experimental results that support what most of us intuitively know to be true — that body weight (and shape) is strongly determined by our genes; and, by corollary, that there is very little we can do about it (particularly those at the extreme ends of the weight spectrum — superectos and the morbidly obese).

      I’m very happy to read that you have come to accept your weight and body shape, as well as the common limitations associated with natural underweight, such as lack of strength and endurance. Additionally, a lack of interest in food can be perceived by others as “unnatural” or incorrectly classified as an eating disorder. Fortunately, these are all things that can be mitigated with just a little exercise of your preferred flavor. I know I’ll never be ripped (nor do I want to be), but having a little muscular strength improves balance and stamina (and enables me to get the top off the pickle jar!). The added benefit of exercise is that it stimulates the appetite and makes eating more enjoyable.

      I hope you’ll stick around and contribute to future discussions here, as I would like to hear from other superectos regarding whether they have also experienced some of the additional “symptoms” I assume to be related to my unique physiological state (such as “running warm” or excessive body heat, especially at night).

      • Ian Coleman says:

        Well of course my general satisfaction with my long thin body may not be transferable to other people, since the most common reason people are dissatisfied with their bodies is that they don’t like how they look. I’m a man and I’m (pretty much) elderly, so I really don’t care any more whether I’m pretty or not, so to speak. But I did when I was young.

        I’m fascinated with the magazine, Men’s Health (not that I’d ever actually buy the damn thing), because it is misnamed. It’s real title should be Men’s Beauty, because baby that’s its subject. The cover is always just some handsome dude of about 28 with his shirt off, and guys are supposed to believe that if you don’t look like the Men’s Health cover models you’re not healthy. Come on. We envy guys who look like that, not because they are healthier than other people, but because they have such a huge social advantage. This whole notion of acquiring superior health is just a stalking horse for what we’re really after,which is good looks. There is a ridiculous taboo against men admitting this, so all of a sudden we’re all worried about what? getting type 2 diabetes or something. Come on, again.

        Anyway, I’m not ugly, just sort of odd. I’m built like Mick Fleetwood as he appeared on the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors album. I’m not deformed, and I don’t walk around bumping into the furniture.

        If I were going to give other very thin men a word of advice it is this: You cannot convert yourself to a mesomorph by lifting weights and stuffing food down your neck. What you will do if you try this (and i did for about a year when I was 19), is get yourself a chronic case of nervous exhaustion. You don’t get muscular so much as wiry, and also tired, because you don’t have the capacity to build great muscular strength. Better to learn to run five miles, which is a nice, pleasant distance that won’t leave you exhausted, and which will turn out to be quite a pleasant way to spend about fifty minutes, once you get used to it. When you’re young, this adjustment takes about three months. Also, every second day I do fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups. This takes less than ten minutes, is not that hard, and strengthens my lower back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands.

  4. Lyn Hall says:

    Ok. My apologies for sounding like a stuck up person if I do, I am trying to be polite…. Whew! I understand what an ectomorph is, and, for a period of my life, I was one. It wasn’t a “natural process” it was an eating disorder. I had and still have, anorexia nervosa. It started when I was about 8 years old. Nobody noticed. Not until I was 11 and 58 lbs and 5 feet tall. I felt horrible about myself with my anorexia, and being super skinny, and without it, being a whopping 92 pounds at 5’1 at age twelve. I am now 14 years old, 5’1, and 92 pounds. People comment about “how skinny I am”, and think I am “back to my old ways”, which I am most definitely not. People don’t realize that some people, like you guys that are very inspiring, are BORN skinny!!! Sometimes very skinny!
    I just have one question:
    Have you ever been HAPPY, and I mean truly happy, with your NATURAL type? Not like if you gained loads of wait or something, but like when you were just maintaining your natural shape… I just always wonder, because I am such an ungrateful person. I always took my body as “worthless” “fat” “ugly”, etc. I still have those thoughts everyday. But now I realize there are beautiful people in this world, who just try to work with what they got, so to speak. Yes, you may not be in love with yourself, and that’s a good thing, but many of you are at peace. I just wanted to say thank you to everybody on this lovely blog, even though I was not born skinny, this helped me when I was at my lowest, and actually helped me gain confidence. Thank you so much.

  5. Noni Palesa says:

    Stumbled across this by accident and I’m glad. I’m 24 and 5’7. Since I was 10 i havent gone past the 49 kg marker on the scale and to top it off I’m Kenyan and so being thin isn’t really seen as beautifully African, I’m either sick or not eating according to a lot of people.
    Being told to eat more and all that nonsense really put me down for a while, though now I’m much happier.
    Glad I found this website.

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The Skinny

Life as an extreme ectomorph