Frustration: Enough of the Skinny Shaming

Seriously, are you obese?

Why don’t you just stop eating that sandwich and have a salad instead?

Ugh, you’re so fat. It’s just unhealthy, I’m sorry

Seriously, do you never stop eating?

Imagine saying any of the above to someone who is ‘curvy’, ‘chubby’ or ‘down-right fat’. Imagine saying one of those comments to the ‘slightly plump’ person in your office. How long do you think it would be before HR came down on you with accusations of bullying? I’m guessing not long and rightly so.

So, why does it seem to be considered socially acceptable to aim similar comments to slimmer people without the same fear of having a written warning on your employment file, or a black mark against your friendship?

Yoga pro, Tara Stiles, recently posted a photo of herself in a bikini in a hotel bathroom highlighting the fact that, even though she’d forgotten her flip-flops, life was good. I admired how long and slender her body was. How strong she looked. How long her limbs seemed and how relaxed and at peace she looked. Others seemed to see something different and, in lieu of having anything nice to say, took to trolling the ‘yoga rebel’. Not nice, but hey it’s the internet that’s what happens, right? People post stuff, people troll on it. Yeah sure (and I’m not OK with that either), but it’s not just on the internet that this ‘skinny shaming’ takes place.

As a size eight I’ve lost count of the times that people have eyed me suspiciously when I chose to order a salad or can’t manage all of my meal (sometimes it’s actually because I don’t like it, or because I’d rather concentrate on the wine that accompanies the meal – shock horror!). When I was at school the school nurse weighed me and proceeded to make me recount the food that I ate on an average day. There seems to be this intrinsic belief that just because you’re slight you must be bulimic or anorexic. Heck, online trollers actually outright accused Tara of this! Sure, there are people out there who suffer from these serious disorders, but people shouldn’t just be branded with that tag simply because they’re slight of frame. What next? Deciding someone should go to overeater’s anonymous because they’re larger? Terming someone as a depressive because they’ve cried twice in the past week? It’s just nonsense!

I’ve often been told to get a good cake down my neck (many told Tara to ‘go eat a hamburger’).  And one colleague did actually once outright ask me if I ‘actually ate’ – how she could not notice me snacking my way through the day is beyond me?! I’m actually the friend that a lot of people like going out to dinner with because I eat three courses (so long as I like them. I do tend to leave over-cooked meat, I hope that’s acceptable?), swill it down with wine and actually make conversation above and beyond the calorie content of the various items on the menu.

Now I’m not saying skinny is right and fat is wrong. I don’t give a damn what size someone is so long as they’re healthy. Tara is slim, but she’s a yoga fiend and, as anyone who follows her on YouTube will know, a true believer in wholesome nourishing food. Sure, she’s slim, but she’s healthy slim, strong slim. I’m slim but probably not so healthy to be honest. I eat too much sugar, mean to mind my fat intake and forget, and don’t exercise as often as I’d like to. I’m sure that whilst I look slim I’m probably really unhealthy on the inside. I want to be strong and healthy like Tara, so please don’t tut at me and tell me I don’t need to exercise – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis run in my family – my jogging regime isn’t (just) for vanity (and sanity)!

Also, please don’t tsk when I say I have body hang ups. These aren’t only limited to people over a size 12 you know? I’m small but pear shaped. I have small boobs which means that I look very out of proportion if I have a pig out and my stomach balloons (which it does). Bits wobble when I don’t want them to. And, yes, I work out hard before bikini season starts. Sure, it doesn’t take me long to shape up, but why should I have to pretend that I’m not hung up on my wobbly bits when I am?! Everyone has insecurities but it seems us smaller types are expected to ‘put up and shut up’. When really we should all be able to appreciate what we’ve got and have the occasional whinge about the bits we’d change.

At the end of the day what is the ideal body shape? Victoria Beckham’s slim and chic? Dita Von Teese’s sensational curves? Kelly Brooks even more sensational curves? Simple answer? There isn’t an ideal body shape!  It’s so much more important to be healthy, strong and happy in your natural body shape, whatever that may be. But at the same time it’s important that others respect that and allow you to be whatever shape and size you are.

So, as you hug that slim person, think before you say…

Oh, you’re just skin and bones.

I’m sure you don’t mean it as a diss. I’m sure you do mean it as a term of endearment.

Imagine reversing that and saying the same to a larger person

Oh, you’re just fat. I’ve got no idea where your bones are. 

You just wouldn’t say it would you? I hope not anyway.

So stop with the skinny shaming. We’re small. We know. We don’t need you to tell us. And we certainly don’t need you to slate us for it. Can we all just love our own bodies, love each others bodies and concentrate on being healthy and strong? Thank you!

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3 thoughts on “Frustration: Enough of the Skinny Shaming

  1. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to teach my 10 year old daughter. We all come in different shapes and sizes, she is tall and slim (at the moment) and is quite conscious of her height. I’m trying as a mother who has numerous body hang ups herself, to love herself for who she is. It’s very hard to convince her she is beautiful but she truly is. Unfortunately people will always be cruel and the internet has fuelled a culture of cowards hiding behind laptops.

  2. Pingback: Fab & Fail: Sunday 19th January 2014 | Fabulous and other f* words

  3. Pingback: Fact: Book Review: The Body Book by Cameron Diaz | Fabulous and other f* words

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