Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thoughts for Tuesday, v.7: The Irony of Anti-Thinspo

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Just a note: sorry for the late posting! I'm completely overwhelming myself. It's bad. But anyway...

"I mean, is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? ... Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it's really not. It's about what girls want to be, what they're told they should be, and how they feel about who they are." - J.K.Rowling

Recently on Tumblr, a certain post pertaining to body image came to my attention. I suppose it was intending to spread a positive message (NOTE: I do not know how to reblog GIFs, perfection was crossed out and replaced with "pizza" in an edited version), but it sat a little sourly with me. If you eat, you're might get fat. But they're okay with that! Bring it!

Since my sarcasm translates poorly through writing, just know, I mean no hard feelings. However, just the mere feeling of guilt that stirs when I simply use the word fat shows how obsessed we are with weight, but more specifically, being thin.

Within the past few years, I've unintentionally lost a significant amount of weight. I was comfortable with myself, but all of a sudden I became surprisingly toothpick-thin. My friends, family, and even acquaintances complimented me on my "new" appearance. Or, at least they believed their words were compliments. "You're so skinny! I wish I looked like that!"

It didn't cease until I finally revealed that I took it as an insult. Ironically, the recent surge of accepting "real" model bodies had something to do with it. Magazine articles embraced curves - the body of a real woman. A feminine shape. Not a boyish twig. And of course, ever so proud of their own opinions, they enforced that real women have curves.

What about the rest of us? The aforementioned Tumblr post included shockingly negative opinions toward skinny girls. "I just don't like extremely thin girls," said one. Another admitted, "I think super skinny girls are kinda scary..." And many have cited the ugliness of protruding bones. Even those who admitted to - gasp - eating and having visible bones stated that thigh gaps are gross. (Yep, mine refuse to touch unless I'm sitting, and my bones commit the horrid crime of sticking out from my skin.)

Yet if anyone said this about a fat girl, it would be mean. It would be hurtful. Telling someone she needs to eat less is a stab at her self esteem, but suggesting a thin girl eat more is just as bad. Obviously, there's a double standard at play here. Naturally, there's still many that bash larger gals, citing unhealthiness and claiming skinny is synonymous with health. But assuming smaller girls are unhealthy and anorexic? No one bats an eyelash.

Everyone deserves to love her (or his) own body. No one should feel shamed by others for mere appearance. I strongly hold the attitude that those who mind don't matter, but in most cases it's easier said than done. Accept yourself and others, thick or thin, short or tall, or any other lovely combination. There's not just one body type that's beautiful, despite whatever anyone may tell you. You are beautiful. You just have to believe it.

EDIT, 4/27/11: Just for clarification, I am not trying to induce sympathy for skinny girls, sound whiny about my own experiences, or say that it's difficult to be thin. I just intended to point out a bit of hypocrisy and suggest that accepting one body type shouldn't come at the expense of another.

xox Catherine

PS If you ever want to discuss any of the topics featured in my Thoughts for Tuesday columns, don't hesitate to email me! I'd love to hear your feedback, and if there's anything I can help with, I'd be more than happy to.

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  1. COMPLETELY AGREE! I get so offended when people write about how they think being skinny is ugly and they love their curves, but hell if I say that I think fat people are hideous and I love being skinny. Everyone thinks that I'm evil but no one bothers to think about that MOST people don't choose the way they look - we are either skinny or fat or whatever by default unless we work really hard to be something else. And for the record, I could eat as much as I like and still not gain a pound so I really don't know what people want me to do about that. I think I look just fine - and think you do as well! - I think only insecure people have to insult another perception of beauty in order to feel like they are good enough.

  2. But the thing is, insulting a skinny person and insulting a fat person are two totally different things. Look at our media, the image of beauty that is reinforced every day and shoved down our throats. From the runways to ads to our television screens, the standard of beauty is one that is overwhelmingly thin (and white, but that's a completely different point.)

    I don't mean to rant at you, but I felt the same way as a thin person years ago and then learning about the fast positive movement and becoming a better feminist I've learned that the insults do not exist in a vacuum. People have assumed I'm anorexic. People have gawked at my bones. I've been told that "real" women have curves. But thing is? It's not even a drop in the bucket compared to the shit that fat people have to go through. I'm not even going to get into the classism that is largely tied into size issues, but fat people are told constantly by the media, by individuals, by everyone that they are lazy and stupid. Their bodies are treated as fodder for humor in our media. They aren't represented on the runways, in our shows and movies, in stores, in the blogosphere. They're often discriminated against, such as airlines charging for a second seat. My friend, for example, once told me that she was often insecure about going to new movie theatres because she's never sure if she's going to be able to fit into the seats. These are problems that skinny people largely do not have to face because they are the accepted norm. Thin is what is prized in our society.

    Of course, thin, androgynous bodies are often treated in the same way as fat ones as in they are viewed as inherently unsexual, but let's be real here. The "real women have curves" (though I disagree with the idea of "real" women in any context, as anyone who identifies as a woman is in fact a woman!) thing isn't about you. It's about carving out a space in a world populated by thin girls for women who don't fit that mold, such as non-white women and women without hourglass figures.

    I hope I don't offend you with this comment, but since you are young I'm assuming this is something you haven't thought much about. Also I don't really have time to proofread, so please ignore any mistakes!

  3. I am the commenter from above and since I left that comment, I've been looking around for some articles that might be able to explain my point a little better. I encourage you to check this post out: http://kateharding.net/2009/01/29/guest-blogger-volcanista-on-thin-privilege/

  4. I agree with anon above :) While I do think the emphasis should be on the fact that everybody deserves respect, regardless of bodytype, skinny girls like us have it easy. Yes, I have been asked whether I ate anything too, back in my teens. And I had lots of insecurities pertaining to my weight: not enough boobage/junk in the trunk, and creepy ass skinny legs. But I grew out of that in a jiffy when I got a boyfriend who made me feel beautiful. Something tells me that acceptance isn't nearly as easy to reach when you are on the bigger size of the spectrum, just because basically NO big, normal rolemodels are shown in the media. Models, actresses etc etc are all superskinny, we are the "in crowd", big people are the Other.

    On that part, I do agree with anon, and I feel that putting down skinny people might help build the confidence of fat girls. I'd gladly let them have that. But I hope that in the end we'll reach a situation where women and people in general can be appreciated for their entire person, not just a detail in their appearance.

    And if I'd speak purely aesthetically: I don't think superskinny girls are attractive, and I don't think superbig girls are attractive. But that doesn't give me the right to hate on them or put them down. Attractiveness isn't the big be-all and end-all.. I don't feel like we NEED to be hypocrites and say every person is beautiful, unless of course you meant a beautiful human being :)

  5. The problem is people who say insulting things regarding a thin or skinny person it is usually a defensive move because they themselves do not have their ideal body shape or weight. Another instance is that these comments are directed at people who are severely underweight and possibly have an eating disorder. If you are naturally thin then these comments most likely do not apply to you! I think you have a gorgeous figure and you always look great by no means would I ever describe you as too skinny or ugly etc. But I have had experience with people who struggle daily with eating disorders and body issues so comments like the one you mentioned might be utilised to make someone realise they do not want to be underweight.
    And I agree with the previous comments in that calling someone skinny and calling someone fat are too very different things. Fat comes with so many negative connotations and can make a person feel absolutely awful it is also deemed as unacceptable by most of society which to be honest I do agree with to some extent because with the exception of any medical issues being overly overweight is not beneficial for a persons health or self esteem, having curves is womanly (traditionally) but not being fat, this can cause serious health problems, Im digressing slightly but my point here is that often women are referred to as fat, when they are definitely not they are just slightly curvaceous, whereas if a person is referred to as skinny it is usually either a compliment, jealously or genuine worry for the person health.

    Overall there are many issues with body type and weight but I would say that like anyone who receives unwarranted and hurtful comments to just ignore them and carry on living your life as long as you are healthy and happy

  6. Reading this really makes me think. I mean, yeah. we should all have respect for each other and I kind of hate those type of Tumblr posts which try to "encourage" girls to be skinny and then a lot of them start ranting on the comments about how being skinny is disgusting. For example, I don't have that gap between my thighs and I hate it so much, but I probably wouldn't care too much for it if it weren't for the media which shows all these girls with perfect legs and stuff. I actually love my legs, but it does make me uncomfortable, yet people go around and tell me that "I'm super skinny". I really don't know how to take that... as a compliment, or... what? But anyway, I;m going off topic. I enjoy so much your points of view because I believe many are afraid to write about such delicate stuff, yet it is important to do it.



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