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The Illusion of Thinness

Trees and water on east hampton, 3.2015When we’re thin, everything will finally arrange itself into so much beauty that we’ll cry from all the joy. We’ll start waking up excited. We’ll start feeling fulfilled. We’ll finally be confident. We’ll finally feel calm and at peace. People’s harsh words will no longer cut through us. We’ll no longer second-guess ourselves. We’ll no longer feel alone. We’ll no longer feel left out or like we don’t belong. Because we will belong. We’ll belong to the clique, to the club.

And if we are in pain, we’ll just find solace in our thinness.

As Shauna Niequist writes in Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, “Because I think I would be happy all day long if I was skinny. If something upset me, I would just look down at my long, skinny legs—happiness! If my heart was broken, I’d just put on a bikini—and that sadness would vanish.”

This is the illusion of thinness—the belief that once we become “thin,” we will finally be worthy and our lives will finally be beautiful. Intellectually we might know this is a myth. But we still get sucked in. We still get caught up. Because it becomes a yearning, a deep yearning that we want so badly to come true.

Niequist writes,” I know this isn’t true. I know this is crazy talk. I know miserable skinny people. But I confess that sometimes I want to shake them. I know, I know, this or that has got you down, but find a three-way mirror and look at your butt. Don’t you feel better now? I know I would.

Thinness isn’t the key to the door of our happiness. The key comes from elsewhere. It comes from within. From finding that sense of belonging and connection within ourselves. From finding meaningful things that fulfill us. Because what if we gain weight? What if we’re no longer “thin”? Then the joy, fulfillment, confidence, calm, connection and belonging vanish. Which is natural because they were tied to a tree whose roots weren’t that deep.

What do you really want? What do you think thinness will bring you? How can you provide yourself with this, independent of your weight or size?

Maybe you can work with a therapist on your deep-seated insecurities and loneliness. Maybe you can start lifting weights to feel stronger and more empowered. Maybe you can join a writing group or take photography classes. Maybe you can get enough sleep and start journaling to process your feelings. Maybe you can start practicing yoga, meditating and getting regular massages to relax your mind and body. Maybe you can start making nutrient-rich meals and taking walks in nature. Maybe you can start being kind to yourself just because.

Thinness as happiness, as a cure-all for all our concerns, is an illusion. How can you cultivate the things that are true instead?

The Illusion of Thinness

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). The Illusion of Thinness. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Feb 2016
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