Social media’s comments on women’s body image has taken an interesting turn, changing from the more ‘traditional’ form of body shaming known as fat shaming to the now more common skinny shaming. Now don’t get me wrong, no form of body shaming is ever okay and unless you are a doctor giving health advice, commenting on a women’s body without her invitation is not okay but unfortunately skinny shaming is not being taken as seriously as fat shaming is or ever was.
An article on the site “Mamamia” titled “Please stop complaining when people call you skinny” is infuriating to read for anyone thin girl who’s ever encountered skinny shaming. The article refers to skinny shaming in inverted commas as though it isn’t real while referring to fat shaming as abuse, stating that it’s a lot easier to be skinny that it is to be fat, as though this is pure fact. As someone who has grown up being very skinny- by genetics and not through extreme diet or exercise- as soon as I was old enough to know what body image was, I was unhappy with mine. I felt awkward, gangly and skeletal and, particularly moving into teenage years, was made to feel unsexy because of my petite rectangular body shape and complete lack of curves. I got called several of the cliché names such as ‘skinny bitch’ and ‘skin and bones’, even receiving intended harmless comments on how skinny I was affected me hugely. This lead to extreme exercise and dealing with several forms of eating disorders in an attempt to get ‘sexier’ curvy body and is still something I struggle with immensely to this day. Obviously, as someone who has had to deal with having a scrawny body and skinny shaming, it infuriates me to read “sure being called names for being skinny may hurt if they happen” but it isn’t a real issue and it doesn’t affect skinny people as much. The article claims that fat shaming is worse because it’s more likely to happen when in reality this just isn’t true, it’s just more obvious. Fat shaming is seen at fat shaming because the word ‘fat’ in our society is associated with bad. Skinny shaming is most often seen as complimentary because skinny has come to be associated with “good”. Just because “Oh you’re so skinny!” or “there’s practically nothing of you” may be directed as complements, they’re not always taken that way, especially as someone struggling with body image.
I think the main issue around this whole fat shaming/ skinny shaming issue is the stigma around the words ‘fat’ and ‘skinny’. Slowly articles and voices have been emerging around the ‘fat is a word, not an insult’ movement and one of those voices is Marsha Coupé who explains in an interview with The Telegraph why fat isn’t an insult and should be taken negatively, stating “Fat is a size. I am fat. It’s not an ugly word.” This is quite an inspiring attitude and is hopefully the start of the end of body shaming.
Insulting or shaming someone for their body size or any physical appearance for that matter is simply not okay, this is something society cannot seem to grasp and with red carpet critiques and paparazzi constantly ripping apart celebrities for their appearances, who can blame us? We have terrible examples. It is also not okay to degrade someone else’s problem because you think it isn’t as bad as your own. It’s time to stop playing the ‘who has it worse’ competition and just focus on being happy with ourselves and accepting each other for who we are.
Mamamia 2016, “Please stop complaining when people call you skinny”, http://www.mamamia.com.au/skinny-shaming-fat-shaming/
The Telegraph 2014, ‘I’m fat, so what? It’s not an ugly word’: Why the f-word might just finally be OK, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/10768343/Im-fat-so-what-Its-not-an-ugly-word-Why-its-OK-to-be-large.html