By: Janet Goertzen
“Lose some weight, fatty.”
“Eat a sandwich, skeleton.”
Which of those two statements is more likely to be scorned by our society, and which one is more likely to be accepted? Both contain a derogatory term, and both suggest a judgement based on size and appearance. But in our society, the first statement is far more likely to be rejected, while the second is likely to be met with agreement and laughter. Fat shaming, it seems, is now taboo. So why is skinny shaming fair game?
Skinny shaming isn’t just about insults; it can also come in the form of a backhanded compliment, a false show of concern. “You’re nothing but skin and bones,” they say. “You should really eat something.” All this does is draw unwanted attention to an innocent person’s body, and yet bystanders probably take no issue with it. Think of it the other way around: if someone were to say to an overweight person, “You should really stop eating so much,” they would get nothing but flak.
People who are overweight have many reasons for their size, including genetics and various health issues. Thin people have similar reasons for their sizes. Most thin people were born that way, or have medical conditions that prevent them from gaining weight. For many of them, gaining weight is just as difficult as it is for an overweight person to lose weight. Yes, there are certainly people who became thin by way of eating disorders, by all accounts an unhealthy way to live. But, disordered eating is not just characteristic of thin people; overeating is a disorder, too. Furthermore, “skinny people” eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are psychological conditions.
Women’s advertising doesn’t help, either. “Real women have curves” is a mantra that is supposed to empower women, but at the same time, it demeans women who do not have curves. Does this mean that thin women, those who do not possess the stereotypical woman’s hourglass shape, are “fake” women? Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign seems like a step in the right direction but is fundamentally flawed. The campaign’s message is ostensibly “you’re beautiful, no matter your size,” but what does Dove sell, again? Beauty products. So maybe “you’re beautiful, but you could be more beautiful if you bought our anti-cellulite cream” is more apt. The Real Beauty campaign actually reinforces the message it is supposed to be breaking down: appearance is everything. And even so, Dove claims to showcase “real women” with “real curves” in their ads – again, suggesting that women who don’t have curves are not real women.
We need to stop shaming each other based on our appearances. All women are real woman, regardless of size – and, for that matter, regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation. Sure, real women have curves. Real women also don’t have curves. Whether a woman is a size two or 22, she’s a real woman.