Overweight people often get flack for being, well, fat. They get called names and are made fun of. They get told to go on a diet, or get unsolicited “helpful” eating and exercise tips. Heavy people are discriminated against regularly. And it sucks. Fat phobia, fat hate, whatever you want to call it… it’s not right.
But then there’s “thin hate”.
And for some reason, no one seems to think it’s wrong. It’s perfectly ok to tell a thin girl she needs to eat a cheeseburger, or accuse her of having an eating disorder, or go on and on about how skinny she is, to the point it makes the whole thing socially awkward. And it’s totally fine to tell her that she’s the reason teenage girls develop eating disorders.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with various versions of this meme floating around Facebook a few months ago.
I saw women of all kinds posting this image when it was “popular”. Even thin women were posting it, and were serious! There were a few of us who posted it and asked that it stop. I was one of them.
In fact, I posted the following question as a FaceBook status not too long after I started seeing that stupid image popping up in my feed.
For all the people who think that models are too skinny: What size would they have to be in order for you to stop calling them “anorexic”, stop saying they’re giving young girls body image issues & eating disorders, and overall be satisfied with their size?
A girl named Tia responded in a way that I felt summed up my thoughts on the matter nicely. Here’s what she said.
People really need to get the fuck over this kind of thing. If you don’t like someone’s body type, don’t look at them. Fashion models are the way they are for a reason — reason being, their job is to sell clothes. They have the body type that make clothes look great. I’m so tired of people attacking women for their body type just because they aren’t comfortable in their own skin. Every career has requirements, whether it’s being a certain height and size or having certain college degrees. It’s so ridiculous that people hold fashion models responsible for their own self worth!
Tia clarified, after someone else interjected something, adding the following, which I also agreed with.
I just think it’s disgusting that people have to ridicule others for how they look. You can have “opinions” all day long, and if you aren’t attracted to someone then don’t fuck them. Simple. But slandering fashion models for being “too thin” & accusing them of every crime in the world from having an eating disorder to causing teenage girls to have eating disorders? I don’t see people like that as any better than racists. It’s not OK to judge someone based on their body type, skin color, gender, etc. Ever. No excuses.
That last sentence is what really nailed it for me. Let’s take a look at that again…
It’s not OK to judge someone based on their body type, skin color, gender, etc. Ever. No excuses.
Tia is right. Incredibly right. At this point, there should be no reason to judge anyone based on body type, skin color, gender, heritage, language, or anything else. As human beings, we should be above that.
But we still do it.
Is bashing someone based on their body type as bad as being a racist, as Tia thinks? Yea, I think so. Why? Because I spent years dealing with ridicule because I was always thin, and as a result, spent even longer struggling with body image issues that I never should have had to worry about in the first place.
I was 98 pounds when I graduated high school, and I hated myself.
There was nothing I could do about my weight. I was pretty active in high school, and had an incredibly fast metabolism. I couldn’t gain weight to save my life. I shouldn’t have been self-conscious of anything–ok, maybe the fact that I had small boobies compared to most of my classmates, but other than that, at 5’3″, 98 pounds, and declared 100% healthy by my doctor (year after year), I should have had nothing to worry about when it came to my body.
But instead I was self-conscious, and I envied my heavier classmates. I wanted a curvy, voluptuous body, not the stupidly skinny body I had.
I figured that if I at least had curves I couldn’t be accused of being an anorexic, and I wouldn’t have to hear “eat a cheese burger” from people all the time. Seriously. You have no idea how big of a mind-fuck it is to eat a large pizza by yourself, be hungry 2 hours later because your metabolism is insane, and then have people tell you “gosh, go eat a sandwich or something, you need some meat on those bones”. Or worse, report you to a school counselor for having an eating disorder. And then, the very same day, when someone saw me packing away the cheeseburger someone else had begged me to eat, followed by a second one, and washing it all down with a 32-ounce Mountain Dew and a milkshake, I’d get told “you keep eating like that, and it’ll catch up to you”.
And let’s not forget that I couldn’t be a typical teenage girl and talk about what I hated about myself.
I did that, and I had an eating disorder, because how could someone that many of my friends though of as “perfect” hate herself? Shit, there was a small group of people in high school who called me “Barbie”, because to them, I was perfect. I still saw flaws though, and still hated parts of my body. But if I vocalized it, I was of course throwing up everything I ate right afterwards.
When I started keeping my negative thoughts about myself to myself though, I became a conceited bitch. Hello again, mind-fuck.
By the time I was 16, we were well acquainted.
You think skinny women like this–like me–are responsible for all of the eating disorders in the world, and for women feeling bad about themselves?
No! It’s butting in where it’s none of your business, telling girls and women that their body type isn’t good enough. That’s what’s responsible for eating disorders, low self-esteem, and utter, total self-loathing among girls and women.
I gained almost 30 pounds throughout my 4 years of college. I graduated weighing 125 pounds. I was still healthy in terms of my weight, and still had a body many envied. I was still well within the healthy weight range for my height. However, despite the fact that I’d gained 30 pounds, all of the comments I had gotten when I was under 100 pounds were still coming. I was still told I was “too skinny” and that I needed to “eat a damn sandwich”. I was still desperately told I “needed meat on those bones”, despite the fact that I was 30 pounds heavier than I’d ever been, which, if you break it down percentage-wise, is a pretty significant amount of weight. And I felt disgusted with myself.
It’s a wonder I never developed an eating disorder.
I have a feeling that if my friends hadn’t called me either anorexic or conceited, and if my family hadn’t constantly been telling me to fatten up, or that it would “catch up” to me, it probably wouldn’t have taken me 26 years to be happy with my body, and another 4 to absolutely love it and the direction it’s heading.
That’s right. I finally love my body, at 30 years old.
It’s a rather sad state of affairs that it took a women 30 years to love her body. That’s one third of a lifetime spent wallowing in self-loathing, being too self-conscious to wear shorts, and dreading meals with groups of people who scrutinized what she ate and whispered about her (often not quietly enough) if she went to the bathroom after a meal.
I’m still around 119 lbs, but I’m far more muscle now than I ever was, and I’m gaining even more. I work out twice a week for an hour each day, and I work hard for that hour. I eat how my trainer/nutritionist has recommended I eat, and have stopped worrying about what other people think I should be doing in terms of what goes in my mouth.
It’s got to stop.
Younger generations shouldn’t have to worry about this. They should love themselves regardless of what size they are–skinny, bigger boned, heavy–as long as they are healthy by their doctor’s standards, that’s all that should matter.
We need to stop fussing about other people’s body types. We’re all different shapes and sizes, and what is healthy for one person may not look healthy to another. But that shouldn’t matter. I shouldn’t have to show you a note from my doctor that says “yup, skinny bitch is healthy, move along” if you think I’m “too thin”. You should just be worrying about yourself, what goes in your mouth, and whether or not your body is healthy for you.
You worry about you, I’ll worry about me. We’ll all be happier and (hopefully) healthier.
Here are some other articles, blog entries, and random thoughts from others on the topic of thin hate, or being skinny and having body image issues. The bold one is, in my opinion, a must read.
- The Problem With Skinny Bashing
- “Real Women Have Curves” And Other Ways You’re Not Helping
- An Argument Against Thin Hate
- Just Because I’m Thin Doesn’t Mean I Have An Eating Disorder
- Real Women Have… Bodies
- Real Women and Those of Us Who Aren’t
- Real Women by Hanne Blank
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