I heard that most of my life. It’s called “skinny shaming.”
As part of the body positive movement, thin people, primarily women, are speaking out against being marginalized.
It is categorically wrong to make someone who is thin feel bad about it. To tell a thin woman that she looks ill, or that she should eat more, is unacceptable.
BODY SHAMING OF ANY TYPE IS UNACCEPTABLE.
What I object to, is the use of the word “shame” associated with being skinny or fit. In today’s society, there is ZERO shame associated with being thin.
I’m genetically predisposed to being slender. I was a skinny kid, and once I grew into adulthood, particularly after pregnancy changed my body and age slowed my metabolism, I worked out and ate a very body-conscious diet.
Throughout my entire life, from childhood on, I was teased, shamed and ostracized because I was thin.
People even admitted to me that they hated me at first, just because I was a size zero.
Now that I am average sized, I no longer get skinny shamed. But I am writing this from the perspective of someone who was disliked on sight, simply because I was very thin.
And skinny shaming is NOT the same as fat shaming.
To clarify, I’m not talking about women who are thin because they are ill. I’m also not referring to people who cannot gain weight and would love to, for medical or aesthetic reasons.
I’m talking about the average thin woman. Women who may simply have a fast metabolism, or, as is the usual case with women who have either borne children or grown older, work out hard to maintain that body, or watch every mouthful of food, or both.
These are the women who enjoy “Thin Privilege.” Thin privilege is receiving elevated social status, workplace advantages, media attention, popularity with friends and dating partners, greater access to healthcare, association with positive traits like being hardworking, disciplined and responsible. And lots more.
In a video in which two fitness vloggers discuss being shamed for being thin and fit, Bex says to Amanda Russell,
“I don’t set out to represent the average women. Ever. And I don’t think you do, either. I think that we’re trying to represent the extraordinary woman.”
THAT RIGHT THERE. Thin Privilege, captured on YouTube. Thin women are in an exalted place in society, and make no mistake about it – they love it.
When I was skinny shamed, I felt under attack. But I never wrote about it as an issue, because I was not comfortable complaining from my throne of entitlement.
We ALL have the right to feel how we feel about being body shamed, and to write about it. It hurts to be attacked for your body type. But I feel that airing grievances from a privileged position lacks compassion for those who suffer from brutal and pervasive oppression.
Yes. Weight discrimination is alive and well, and it is as damaging as racial discrimination.
SKINNY SHAMING VS FAT SHAMING
1. Thin people are not outcasts in society for having slim bodies. Not now, not ever. In fact, they’re the envy of every person in the room. Fat people have to work extra hard to be accepted, because they are targeted or ignored. This is a documented issue, even globally, in countries where it was once thought that to be bigger was desirable.
2. Thin people do not get discriminated against in the job market. A Yale study published in the National Journal of Obesity showed that those who are overweight earn less than non-overweight people in comparable positions, are less likely to be hired or considered for a promotion, and are often viewed as lazy or lacking in self-discipline by employers and coworkers
3. Thin people do not have nearly as much difficulty finding lovers and spouses. Every single online dating service I’ve been on, men request that the women be trim and fit – even overweight men whose pictures show that they would have to lift their stomachs up just for me to find their penises. Overweight people have more trouble finding romantic partners, and are less likely to date and get married than their thinner counterparts.
4. Thin people don’t have trouble buying clothes. Fashion ruthlessly discriminates against bigger people. In an interview for Business Insider, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch came right out and said he doesn’t even stock extra large sizes in women’s clothing because he only “wants thin and beautiful people” wearing his clothing.
These are just a sampling of the differences.
Perhaps to write about being “skinny shamed” is a way of creating solidarity with overweight people on the other end of the spectrum. A way to say, “See? I get shamed for MY body size, too.” I appreciate this, because all body shaming is wrong. And unity, rather than divisiveness, particularly among women, can ultimately create change.
Unfortunately, this is not always the motivation. In a well known “skinny shaming” essay by author and journalist Emma Woolf, she says, “I’m fed up with being judged for being physically disciplined, for being careful about what I eat, and for exercising regularly.”
THERE IS THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM. Her implication that bigger people are UNdisciplined, careLESS about what they eat, and DON’T exercise regularly. This is a dangerous mindset, and at the root of thin privilege.
I’ve been skinny. I’ve been average weight. I was intensely attracted to, and married, a man who is overweight.
I believe in being empowered by your body, AT ANY SIZE.
Sometimes, when I write these articles, I wonder if any of it matters. Because the people who already agree with me will share and comment. I hope someone who was of a different opinion, even ONE person, reads this and feels that they were perhaps enlightened about something they hadn’t thought of before.
That’s how we end oppression.
One person at a time.
Have you ever been body shamed in any way?
Talk to me. I’m listening.