Body shaming goes both ways, and neither is pleasant.
By Jessinta Smith, Suffolk Community College
Body shaming, specifically fat shaming, is a common topic of discussion in the media.
If you go on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, it seems like every week there’s a story about a curvy model or a girl who was made fun of for being overweight. You seemingly can’t go anywhere without hearing about icons like Tess Holliday, or Ashley Graham, the first plus-sized woman on a Sports Illustrated cover. The increasing media representation of plus-sized women (anything a size 12 or over) is a positive trend for myriad reasons, the very least of which has to do with clothing.
However, I’m not plus-sized. In fact I’m actually the opposite: At 105 pounds and 5’3, I’m technically underweight.
Even though I’m little though, I’m not immune to scrutiny.
I’m often told that my boobs are small, that I look anorexic and that my body image issues are invalid. I’ve been admonished for being body-conscious, and as a result I’ve learned not to mention my insecurities because people will say that I’m just complaining. I’ve learned that I’m a bitch because skinny girls are bitches, and that I should “eat a burger.”
Most painfully, I am constantly made aware that “real women have curves.”
I have a vagina, I view myself as a woman and I identify as a woman; I am a woman. My weight has nothing to do with my sex.
The “real women have curves” mantra intertwines sex and weight, two subjects that have nothing to do with one another. By saying real women have curves, you imply that curve-less women are lesser women. For a lot of people though, me included, frame and body type are largely genetic. My body weight has never had anything to do with my womanhood, but rather was the inevitable result of a certain sperm impregnating a certain egg.
Ironically, the same genetics that made me thin are also responsible for giving me an anxiety disorder that exacerbates my weight issues. Unless I am depressed, my anxiety makes it nearly impossible for me to put on weight. Although I have a slight frame, my anxiety can make it impossible to hold down food or find it appetizing. When I am particularly anxious I can become dangerously thin. My anxiety makes me unable to eat, and as a result that’s often when I’m ridiculed for being skinny. Being made fun of then makes me self-conscious, which in turn makes me even more anxious.
As it turns out, skinny people have just as many feelings as overweight people. Fatty tissue doesn’t hold magical feelings cells that make you less sensitive when you lose weight, so when I’m told I’m less of a person because I’m thin, it hurts just like when someone is told they’re less of a person because they’re heavy.
Body image is based on how you see yourself, not how others see you. As a result, being thin doesn’t mean you’re happy with your body. The misconception that thin people see themselves as beautiful just because they’re skinny needs to end.
For instance, throughout my life I’ve heard that my boobs are small, which makes sense because they are the correct size for my frame. If you have a small everything (according to my hair dresser, I even have a small head) you don’t normally have one extremely large feature. Bodies don’t typically work that way.
What’s worse is that since my boobs have the most fatty tissue on my body, when I’m anxious the first weight I lose is from my breasts.
You can imagine how much I enjoy having the size of my boobs remarked upon, then, as they are often at their smallest when I am in the worst place mentally.
Still, being thin doesn’t mean you have body image issues. Skinny people usually don’t have anorexia, bulimia or anything else—they’re just thin.
As a result, using the term anorexic insultingly is not only offensive, but also confusing. Anorexia is a serious disease that has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, so when someone says, “Oh she’s anorexic,” they are ridiculing sufferers of a mental disorder. In the same way you don’t call someone a retard when they make a mistake, you shouldn’t call someone anorexic when they’re thin.
Back off of skinny people. Just like overweight people, we aren’t evil, bitchy or sick. Your body has nothing to do with who you are as a person, so please stop talking about other people’s weight. Also, stop telling skinny people they’re less of a woman because they’re thin. That’s really fucked up.