Is Skinny Shaming Really a Thing?

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We’re just going to leave this here.

http://www.ravishly.com/2017/02/20/lucky-plight-naturally-skinny-girl

Now, let’s be clear about something: making comments about the body of a person you don’t know well or at all is inappropriate. It is an especially volatile no-no when it’s a woman’s body that is being discussed. As women, we are constantly being judged and scrutinized for our weight and body type. So, I do understand the gist of what this writer is trying to say.

HOWEVER…

This essay is completely tone deaf.

I try to imagine what it’s like to be overweight, to strive to be skinny. I know I can never really understand. I know I can’t. And I can surmise that the people who see every day as a struggle to pare down their figure will feel angry with me. Probably infuriated. Perhaps to them, I am reacting incorrectly. To them, I am feeling shame at the very words they would interpret as compliments.

I see. So, overweight women probably yearn to be objectified, is that it? You know. Cuz they’re overweight. They must all hate themselves and their bodies and be desperate for compliments. This essay reeks of the infamous xoJane post from the white woman who noticed there were no black people in her yoga class.

I am inherently lucky. I know I am. I don’t need to exercise multiple days a week. I don’t have to agonize over counting calories. For sure, I’d rather be too thin instead of weighing too much. My struggle does not compare with theirs. When I want to eat brie, I eat brie. If I’m passing by the 24-hour donut place, I’ll order a Nutella cronut. I can see how this might make someone angry.

Still, I wish that people didn’t have something to say about it, so often. I’ve been out to dinner, and the waitress has said, in front of a table of new friends, clearing up every plate but mine, “You’re a tiny thing. I’ll leave your food longer because you need to eat. You need some meat on those bones.” 

I’ve gone to a yoga class, space allegedly free of judgment, and someone commented, “She’s too skinny.” 

When I moved to L.A. and saw a new general doctor, he asked me twice if I’ve struggled with eating disorders, staring at me with a skeptical eye. I defensively showed him photos of my family, skinny like me. “See? Genetics,” I said. 

Last week, I rode in an Uber, and for the entire 20-minute ride, the driver asked me personal questions about my eating habits, exercise, if I am on diet pills (I am not). She was determined to find out what my secret is. In college, boys have said, “I’m afraid to touch you because I might break you.”

I can’t be the only one who thinks at least some of these things never happened, right? Like, who is making such an obnoxious comment like, “She’s too skinny” within ear shot of the person about whom they are speaking?

She’s trying to make her life sound like a struggle. And you know what? I’m sure to some degree, it is. I don’t doubt that people say stupid things about how she must have  a fast metabolism or how they wish they could eat what they want. But if you’re trying to compare that to how people who are not conventionally slender are treated by society, you are breathlessly self-absorbed. Overweight people are ostracized. They are demonized. They are humiliated. That’s not something you see happening to slender people.

You know what else is total bullshit? Guys are given more leeway when it comes to weight. They’re “husky.” We’re “fat.” Men can carry around an extra ten to twenty pounds or even more and nobody blinks. Their extra weight doesn’t hinder their dating prospects the way a woman’s extra weight does. We’re considered failures and rejected for not meeting and adhering to a standard. Guys? Aww, they just have beer bellies. Aren’t they cute?

queen-elizabeth-double-middle-finger

Still, I’ve been denied a health insurance plan because a computer decided I am underweight. I’ve been denied acting parts because I look too much like a girl, not curvy like a woman. I’ve been denied respect because I don’t weigh as much as I “should.”

Okay but…I assure you that people who are deemed overweight are marginalized exponentially more than she is. She fails to even address that point. That’s why this essay comes off as navel gazing wrapped in a humblebrag.

I want to finish by saying that – in my opinion – skinny-shaming isn’t really a thing. Stop trying to make fetch happen, okay?

What about you…do you think skinny shaming is a thing?

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15 comments

  1. Absolutely f*cking not.
    Everyday struggles such as intrusive personal comments (tinged with envy “how do you do it?!?”) not judgement and the occasional loss of something like a part (I call bullshit. Almost every single woman on TV or in the movies today is conspicuously lacking in ‘curves’, especially in “reality” tv), is NOT the same as the constant drone of second guessing, worrying, shame, and fear that comes from being *even slightly*!! overweight in the US.
    Also, unless we’re talking about extreme, almost skeletal thin-ness, that body type isn’t held up for mockery and derision, and used as a shorthand for unsexy, undateable, undesirable.
    I would bet any amount of money the men who said they were afraid to break [the writer] were saying it while in the sack with her.
    I used to be very, very thin, and occasionally men would say things like “if you only gained 15 pounds, you would be perfect.” I could also “pull” almost any man I wanted, literally. Those same men that commented on my thin-ness would still date me. And fuck me.
    I don’t know if men would make similar comments about my current body type (Joan from Mad Men, and tall to boot), and still date me, but I do know that I question if my figure is the reason I’m single EVERY DAY. Men fetishize me. They insult me with overly sexual offers right out of the gate, because, at a size 16, I can’t afford to be picky, right? They subject me to insulting, intrusive questions about my eating and workout habits. Or worse, they stress how they “don’t care” about body type as if they’re doing me some fucking favor.
    Let’s see….
    The diet and fitness industry, 64 BILLION in the US alone. In one year.
    The fact that stores only carry up to a size 16, or in designer stores, an 8 or a 10.
    The MRA blogs that harp harp harp on female “fatness” as if it were a sin and cruelly mock overweight women by publishing their personal pictures most likely without permission (FB photos and such of extremely overweight women).
    The men who subtly treat you as if you are or should be desperate and they’re doing you a favor
    The brands that don’t even carry your size or the clothing is marked at an XL and is really more like a 10
    The “helpful” remarks from friends and family about diet, weight, exercise
    The television shows about radical weight loss, transformations, and surgery related to weight loss
    The media representation of ultra thin (dangerously so, in many cases) women as desirable
    The Pro ANA blogs, Tumblrs and Instagrams (and other social media I don’t know about)
    The “inspirational image” sites that *never* feature plus sized or hell, even normal sized women
    The fact that it’s “plus sized” and there is no corresponding “bony size” or other not-sexy term
    The endless dating profiles that outright say or strongly hint “no women of size”
    The representation of women of size as humorous and sexless; the backlash if they step out of these roles
    The focus on looks for popular culture figures like Lena Dunham (“but she’s FATTTTTTT”!)
    The request by Amy Shumer to be left off of the list of “plus sized” women in Glamour (she has a point, she’s an 8, but why the request? Because it’s embaressing.)
    ….and that’s the tip of the iceberg

    ……yeah that writer can STFU.

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    1. I’ve gained weight over the years and I’m a size 10. Its not technically plus sized but it’s the same thing for me. I was seeing a guy and one night we were laying in bed and said to me “You’re fucking gorgeous. Do you consider yourself overweight?” I answered honestly that I felt I could lose a few pounds but was otherwise happy with my appearance and figure. I was confused by where he was going with these questions but after the fact it be came a little more clear. He was definitely used to dating vey slim women (evidenced by his very slim and very beautiful ex wife) and I don’t think he was comfortable with someone who others perceived as overweight and thus less attractive. The relationship wasn’t very serious and he’d done other things to turn me off so I lost his number. But I think that situation illustrated what many guys feel. The killing part is that some don’t mind or even like a little extra but they don’t like how it looks to the outside world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What the author failed to freaking grasp is that while what she is experiencing is bad, it is infinitely worse than if she were fat. Like, yes, it sucks if people comment on eating habits. But they are not insulting her, which they would if she were fat. Also, fucking bitching about beauty standards, how everyone should be considered beautiful? She is thin and white. She is fine, and she doesn’t know it. Being a woman is hard. Being a thin woman is hella easier than being fst

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  3. I used to be super skinny, got up to slightly overweight, and now I’m about 10 lbs below the top of my weight range. Yeah, skinny shaming is not really a thing. Like, people do make comments from time to time but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the attention. I knew that no one thought I was disgusting. It doesn’t come close to the ridicule that overweight people go through.

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  4. Yeah, this isn’t a thing. I concur with the overall point: just don’t comment on other people’s bodies. It’s not that hard, and women don’t exist to be looked at. I don’t know whether all of these incidents really occurred (some, by the author’s own admission, were imagined), but this reeks of a lady with no female friends who has convinced herself that other “bitches are just jealous” of her. I don’t think that’s it. I think part of her struggle may have to do with the fact that she describes herself as “the girl so full of promise, she’s brimming over.” I don’t care what size she is — that’s insufferable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So not a thing. She talked about being overlooked for roles but she fails to mention a woman who is noticeably heavier if not all out fat would literally be laughed out of the casting. If your overweight it’s seen as a personal failing unlike being thin. If you’re big people immediately view you as inactive, lazy, and unconcerned with health. Honestly you don’t even have to be fat, just not thin or skinny.

    There’s no equivalent for thin people. Being skinny, is seen as a sign of discipline and self control even if it was obtain unhealthily.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m surprised by this outrage. I felt like she came out immediately saying that she understands that she isn’t in the same boat as someone who is overweight. Getting angry about this is similar to saying people can’t say “black lives matter” because “all lives matter.” Saying something matters doesn’t negate the fact that something else matters too. The author’s point seems to be that judging or commenting on one’s body is not ok regardless of size. So while she’s saying skinny shaming is a thing, she’s not saying fat shaming isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Umm actually she has many female friends and is a wonderful positive and encouraging person.
    It is much easier for people to make comments directly to super skinny people because it’s accepted. The fat comments are withheld till out of ear shot.
    I have personally been with her when people say things about her being too skinny and she should eat more. I am pretty overweight and no one in public has ever said to me that I should eat less. I’m sure they think it and comment behind my back. But saying things out loud to someone very skinny is commonplace whether intentionally hurtful or not.
    But the biggest takeaway from the article should be about loving yourself and not letting others frame your self confidence. Whether overweight, very thin, or average, we should all be lifting each other up and not tearing down.
    Your responses to this article are the exact thing genetically thin people deal with every day. It’s “ok” to post about how this isn’t real because she isn’t marginalized as much as “fat” people. Being very thin may not be as commonplace as being overweight but the sentiment is the same on both ends of the spectrum.
    Love your own body and be healthy.

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    1. Brie, I don’t think you understand something very important. Genetically thin people are not marginalized at all. Not getting a role is part and parcel with being an actor, it is not an example of someone being marginalized. Every day actors are rejected for roles because they don’t fit the character’s description. What’s problematic about this essay is that the author truly believes society at large treats her differently because of her body type when it doesn’t. She sees herself as a victim of discrimination when she- a genetically thin white woman – has no idea what being discriminated against for your body type or something you can not change is actually like. Sorry if this is harsh but nobody cares about this woman’s “plight”.

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      1. Gena don’t you think that having negative comments made to you on a regular basis is a type of discrimination? If this was an overweight author everyone would be cheering and agreeing.
        Yes being a “genetically thin white women” may not have the same disadvantages as some other discriminated people but that doesn’t mean “it’s not a thing”.
        Everyone has a right to feel how they feel. And I am sure she is not the only genetically thin person to feel this way no matter her race or gender. I have a male friend who is 6’2 and weighs maybe 145lbs on a good day. Also has comments made to him on a regular basis.
        Negative comments are negative commments no matter who you say them to. And while all you took out of the essay was that she didn’t get a part, you missed the whole point of people making judgement on her based on weight just as they do overweight people.
        Do you have comments made to you on a regular basis about some physical feature of your body? I’m sure people with large noses, or big teeth, or whatever outstanding characteristics feel the same. It’s not about what “privileges” you still have as whatever gender and race you may be, it’s that we should see the person first and not define them by that feature.
        I am not here to argue. My takeaway from the article is be respectful of people and try to be nicer to each other. Let’s build other people up not tear them down.
        Have a great day!

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        1. Gena don’t you think that having negative comments made to you on a regular basis is a type of discrimination?

          Here’s the definition of discrimination. Feel free to pass it on to Lauren:
          dis·crim·i·na·tion
          dəˌskriməˈnāSH(ə)n/
          the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

          Telling someone they need more meat on their bones is NOT discrimination. In fact, it’s not even an insult. It’s concern trolling.

          If this was an overweight author everyone would be cheering and agreeing.

          True, but that’s because overweight people ARE ACTUALLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST.

          And while all you took out of the essay was that she didn’t get a part, you missed the whole point of people making judgement on her based on weight just as they do overweight people.

          I’ll say this again: she does not suffer from discrimination. Sure, the comments made on her body are inappropriate, but that’s the extent of her suffering.

          Do you have comments made to you on a regular basis about some physical feature of your body

          People comment on my body all the time, as I’m a size 10/12. However, I’m white. So, while I find comments about my body annoying and I might even write an essay about it, I don’t have it so bad. Not to mention women my size ARE ACTUALLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. In the grand scheme of things, though, I don’t have it so bad. Bemoaning how unfair it is that people give you back-handed compliments is the height of white girl privilege.

          My takeaway from the article is be respectful of people and try to be nicer to each other.

          Sure, I agree. But the other takeaway – the one you and Lauren (if you’re not the same person) are missing is – oh my god: shut the fuck up about your white girl problems.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well we are not the same person but thanks for thinking so! I take it as a compliment. Not sure why you are so bent on it being a racial issue. So what if she is white, black, Asian, or anything else?
            And yes it is considered discrimination if a health insurance plan deems her too thin and “unhealthy” solely based on weight on a computer screen. Same reason it would give an overweight person for being too heavy.
            For a website called Women On Top you sure have a lot of time to tear them down.
            I’m sorry you cannot see another side to things. Everyone has obstacles to overcome in life, weight issues, mental health, racism, etc. Instead of telling her the problem “isn’t a thing” maybe try to understand and just take the lesson for what it’s worth to possibly help someone in your own life who may feel the same.
            Good luck to you!

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  8. I can’t help thinking about how I went to a bar for the Super Bowl and all the dudes and bartenders kept encouraging me to eat more free burgers. I was a size 6 and playing the Cool Girl game and I knew it. Not once did anyone try to shame me for eating.

    Liked by 1 person

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