Skinny Shaming

Skinny-Shaming.jpg

Probably every woman reading this wishes something about her body is a little different than it already is.  We’ve all been there.  We’re products of our ridiculously confused society.  A society that encourages body image obsession.  I think we need to fight this obsession, together. When Taryn asked us ladies to write a post about food/body image, I told her I didn’t have much to say.  Turns out I do.  Who knew?

Being a super skinny person, I was curious what “anonymous” posters on the internet had to say.

I did a search for “skinny shaming” and clicked on the images tab.  The first item the search gave was this: “Real men go for curves, only dogs go for bones.”  I was curious about what else was out there, so I continued scrolling through the images.

  • “Women are meant to have curves, boobs, big thighs, and a nice ass.  Who wants to be with a toothpick?  I mean seriously.  There’s no place for a guy to put his hands.”
  • “No, I don’t wear a size 0.  But that’s only because I have the body of a Woman, not the body of a 12 year old.”
  • “Put a girl with a booty & then a girl shaped like a boy in front of a man & thats all the research you need BOO!!!!”
  •  “Curves.  Because nobody likes to snuggle a stick.”
  • “Studies suggest, 9 out of 10 men prefer a woman with curves.  The 10th man prefers the 9 other men.”
  • “Sorry, but you look like a skeleton, it’s pretty gross.  I feel bad for you, but I’m not going to pretend you’re attractive.  You need help.”
  • “Good news for thousands of girls who have no SEX APPEAL.”
  • “Skinny people.  They’re freaks.”
  • “Seriously she needs intervention and a double cheeseburger.”
  • “Are you guilty of no sex appeal?  Are you tired of being called SKINNY, UNAPPEALING or….    ?  Are you having trouble keeping your man?  Or is there no man in your life at all?   Is your life empty and boring?  Just reading about ROMANCE and exciting things, never doing any of them?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you need CURVES.”

And, my personal favourite:

  • “Skinny girls don’t make good mothers.  They’re only good for being in Concentration Camps and starving to death.”

At first, after copying and pasting into bullet points, I started adding sarcastic (and not-so-sarcastic) responses to the phrases I was coming across.  And then I quickly reached the point where there really is no response.  I can’t… there’s nothing to say to people in this mind set.

Anyway, let’s get a little more personal...

I’m 6’ tall, I weigh about 130 lbs, and my body consists of thin everything (except my rear end – go figure).  Apparently my bum is one of my greatest assets (get it?  Asset?  I’m so clever.)

I am one of the skinniest women you will likely ever know.  When my parents made me, they both passed on their skinniness (is that a word?) to me.  I come by my skinny build honestly, and unashamedly.

I have never dieted or exercised in order to lose weight.  Older women in my life had made a point to inform me when they noticed I’d put on weight in college.  I’m still baffled as to why anyone feels a need to point out other women’s fluctuating weight.  ‘Cause, well, all women’s weight fluctuates.  College, marriage, kids, aging, etc.  Our bodies are going to change, depending on our lives’ situations.  And that’s perfectly okay.

I once lost over 20 lbs one summer due to extreme stress (thank you, PTSD), and I freaked the crap right out when I noticed I had dropped from a size 10 to a size 4.  I spent the next year being mindful of my body and trying to gain the weight back.

Almost every article of clothing in a store is either too short on me, or too loose.  Most clothes simply do not fit me.  I alter a lot of my clothes.  I let out dress pants’ hems, I take in sides of shirts and suit jackets/vests, I move buttons over on coats and sweaters, etc.  You can imagine the horror I felt when I drastically dropped clothing sizes.

I used to get teased mercilessly about how skinny I was.  In elementary school.  Elementary school.  I remember one particular instance when I was in grade five (or thereabouts).  It was my turn to play on a mandatory floor hockey intramural team at lunch hour.  As I was heading into the gym, a girl in grade six said to me, “You’re so skinny!”  It was said with admiration, jealousy, defeat, aspiration, etc.

Wherever that girl is now, I sure as heck hope somebody caught her self-deprecating view of her 12-year old body before she headed any further down that path.  (Parents and teachers, this is where your role matters more than you can imagine.)  She was twelve and thought she needed to be skinnier.  This should not be happening.

The majority of my friends have “skinny-shamed” me, and each on multiple occasions.  Skinny-shaming is when others (or yourself) make comments, gestures, etc., that are somehow intended to make you feel shameful for being skinny.

Being skinny is not synonymous with eating disorders, dieting, being underweight, being unhealthy, etc.

It’s not “society” that tells me being skinny is unattractive and unhealthy; it’s people.  Individual people.  And it’s just about entirely women.

While so many of my female peers have made comments to me that so clearly have skinny-shaming undertones, I am not ashamed of my build, weight, or shape.  And I don’t intend to be anytime soon.  There are so many reasons I could be, but I’m not going to spend my life feeling bad about the way God made me.

Even a good friend in college telling me about a list he and other men made about the skinny girls they knew (“Most likely to die in childbirth” – because of having narrow hips) can’t make me feel like crap.  I won’t let it.  (I made #4 on their list.)

Long, narrow feet; barely-there boobs; pokey hips and elbows; tiny ankles and wrists; etc.  That’s just… me.  And I’m more than okay with that.  I know that my body can do all the things it was created to do.  I’m not worried.

I’ve realized more and more, this last year especially, that skinny-shaming comes not necessarily from a desire to make the skinny person feel bad about themselves, but from a place of unhappiness on the part of the person making the comments.

This became very apparent when, one day, I decided to dig a little further with a friend: “It feels like you’ve been making a lot of comments about my ___.  Are you self-conscious about your ___?”  Turned out, she was self-conscious about her ___, and had a fair amount of insecurity, as a result.  Her response was eye-opening for me, and it opened the door for a conversation that deepened our friendship.  And, you know what?  The comments from her have drastically decreased in frequency.

I wonder what would happen if, every time a friend made a comment about my body, I asked her a similar question to the one I asked that particular friend that day.  What kind of conversations would follow?  Would those conversations help her to accept and love her body more?  Would those conversations lead to more, friendship-building conversations?  Would her self-image and happiness in who God made her improve?

I’m not saying it’s bad to want to change your body so that you feel healthier.  If it’s done in healthy ways, doesn’t consume a woman, and leads to a healthier lifestyle, then, awesome.  Just be aware of why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it, and your body’s natural limitations.

And remember that God made us.  Be careful not to send the message to other women that God made them in a way that should lead them to feel shameful about their size or shape.

‘Cause He surely didn’t.

And He didn’t make you to feel shameful about your size or shape, either.

HealthAbby