Making Peace With My “Big Bones”

From the time I was a teen, people have described me as “big-boned.” Didn’t matter my weight, I was always big-boned and I never questioned it. After all, people could see me better than I could see myself. Several relatives on both sides of my family were what I considered big-boned (i.e. “fat”), so I just figured it was in my genetic makeup to be big-boned, too.

I’ve been contemplating the whole big-boned issue since I saw a photo of my back last week. I had a small cyst removed in the middle of my back and I wanted to see what the stitches looked like. So I had Larry take a photo. (Yes, that’s some of my infamous skin hanging over my bra – lol. And the tattoo is the unfinished “gift” I gave myself when I turned 30…long story…involves beer…)

What I see in the photo is a wide, thin back. Hmmm… Wide AND thin? How could that be? I’m big boned, ergo, I’m fat….ah…fat…there’s the rub. Ouch.

It’s apparent that it’s time to reconsider the language I use to describe myself to myself.

Insurance companies like Metropolitan Life publish weight tables that are broken into three categories: small, medium and large frames. I always assumed I had a large frame. (Remember, I’m big boned.) I found a handy site called Ideal Body Weight Chart with instructions on how to determine frame size. Using both the wrist and elbow measurements, I have a small to almost medium frame.

Me? Small to medium? That description is so foreign, like someone calling my eyes brown when clearly they’re blue/green. I’d never think to describe myself as “small to medium.” I mean, I’m big boned! People said so when I was 14 and 25 and 40!

I realize now that this big-boned description was probably at the heart of what I call the “black-hole phase” when I hit 150 pounds almost three years ago. I believed what everyone said, that I was big boned and therefore a large frame. Therefore, my “ideal” weight, according to the charts, was between 137-155. Problem was, 150 didn’t feel ideal. I’d always settled for it as my ideal weight, my “magic” weight, but once there, it felt wrong. I knew I was still carrying more fat than was healthy for me and my joints, but I was afraid that maybe my big bones needed to be 150 and I was just being selfish or unrealistic.

It didn’t help that a lot of people told me not to lose any more, that my bones were starting to stick out. Was I looking freakish? I didn’t think so, but then, what did I know? I’d been letting other people tell me what to do in terms of my weight all my life. But this time I let my body decide where it was most comfortable and it seemed to like it around 128. Gee…right where it should be, according the the “ideal weight” chart for a small to medium frame.

I realize now that there’s a difference between being big boned and being broad. I have broad shoulders and a broad back. I’m down to bare bones and will never have a chest measurement less than 34 inches (when measured without the “girls”). I have long legs and wide hips, but I won’t call them big anymore. Yes, I’m bony, but that’s just the way I’m put together.

And I like my bones. One of the most fun parts about losing weight was seeing them emerge month after month, pound after pound. I was ecstatic when my collar bones started jutting through the fat somewhere around 200 pounds. Then came my wrist bones and hip bones, foot bones and cheek bones. Seeing them and feeling them on a daily basis is another one of those things that keep me in maintenance. I don’t ever want to cover my jaw line with a triple chin again.

So I’m eliminating the term “big-boned” from my self-descriptors. Instead, I’m a small to medium and broad. I’m a broad broad!

16 thoughts on “Making Peace With My “Big Bones”

  1. I used to say (and was told) that I had ‘big bones’, too. I’m 5’7″ and my chest measures smaller than yours (unfortunately, that’s even with ‘the girls’). I’m with you on the surprise of realising that I don’t have big bones. I have a small-medium frame. My weight settled at 134. I’d like to weigh a bit less, but that’s just me always looking to go one step further. I would love to be right where you are at 128!!

  2. You have a nice tapered back, which gives you a waist. That’s a great thing!I found out I am actually a large frame. I always assumed I was a small frame because I was short, isn’t it funny how our minds work?

  3. I love your statement of – It’s apparent that it’s time to reconsider the language I use to describe myself to myself. I needed to hear that today. I wrestled with the I can’s and I cant’s until I cried when I was working out this morning. I know that the best thing I can do for myself is to change the language I use to describe myself to myself. Thanks for sharing that with me. I needed that!Your back is beautiful!!! Your picture shows a strong woman, you truly are strong inside and out!

  4. That was interesting, Lynn. It’s interesting how people say those things about being too skinny, or your bones showing or whatever. They would never say that to someone who has always been thin. But I guess it is the comparison of what they are used to seeing you look like comppared to the way you look with the weight off…And I checked out that link and found out that I am a large frame too. I was kind of wondering about that, because when I lost weight and started seeing my bones, (loved that too, still do!) they didn’t seem too delicate. But like Lori, because I am short, I assumed otherwise. Makes me feel a little better about this last bit of weight that won’t come off!

  5. I had a frank conversation with three other women about this very topic several years ago. We were like a range of women’s sizes. I was the thinnest (looking). the next person was actually smaller than I am – but didn’t look it because she was shorter.the next person was in the size 16-18 jeans category but her weight is distributed evenly – so somehow this helps balance her.The last person I would suspect falls in the very bottom/beginning of the obese category on the charts. My middle child had made bracelets for out of town family (of my mother’s) for Christmas. And I had taken the bracelets to have all of these women try them on – to see if they would fit everyone – universal size.When we started trying them on – I said – I am worried that they are too small – because they are snug on me. And the heaviest lady there (the reason that I had thought of this particular group) – SAID – “it will be little help to try them on me – as I have tiny bone structure.” And she DID. The bracelets that were snug on me – were literally falling off of her very “padded” body – but tiny little wrists. And yes, when I took the wrist test – I am big boned. I think it is actually only the top half of me that is big boned – I think that from the waist down – might actually be small/medium. I too loved your back picture – very nice. Your ‘bra overhang” is pretty much gone. Good for you!!!

  6. I think that the size/weight charts are probably all right on/correct. And I have never felt ‘safe’ saying that before typing it here – in (safe to talk about all kinds of different things) maintenance blog land.That is not a safe topic (in most of) fat blog land.

  7. I went to the web page you suggested and according to it, I’d have a heavy frame if I was a 6 foot tall MAN. I’m actually a 5ft 7in woman.I’ve gone to other places where they give wrist measurements, and the same thing occurs.Some of us big boned people really are big boned. If they had left me alone when I was 11 I probably would never have gained all the weight.

  8. The whole “big boned” vs “large frame” thing is interesting. Kat, yeah, folks probably meant “fat,” but they would never say that to my face. They were my aunts and grandmother. I guess they loved me too much….LOL This has been an interesting though process, the whole “how do I describe myself” thing. I love being broad, actually. I feel so strong. I hope that you all do, too. What’s a body frame other than how we were put together? I mean, it’s what we do with it, right? It’s physical, yes, but god knows the emotions that go into it. Oi.

  9. I cant believe Im so behind in yer blog! and it’s amazing what we see vs others huh?of course at first glance I saw TATTOO 🙂and then thought MAN SHE HAS AN AMAZING V-TAPER.SMALL WAIST AND MUSCLE UP TOP.Miz.

  10. thank you SO much for addressing the whole big-boned issue. I am currently at 112 kgs (have lost 5 so far). I have always been told I am big-boned. I never knew what it meant, except maybe that it meant I was deemed to be overweight (or look it) for the rest of my life no matter how hard I tried. I’ve just discovered (thanks to the link you provided) that I have a medium frame. I feel like crying. I can’t understand why this means so much to me, but it’s almost like a cloud has moved away and I can feel the warm sun. Thanks Lynn. I have been following your other blog and read it regularly for inspiration. Just discovered this one! Yay!

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