For the past several decades, overweight women have received criticism for their bodies. This evoked the term “fat-shaming.” In protest to their abuse and mistreatment, these same women who have had their body type shamed have responded in a harsh manner. This recent trend has emerged for the way thin women are viewed by society. The term “thin-shaming” has been tossed around quite a bit lately. My definition of thin-shaming is: to insult a person who is thin specifically because of their weight.
There are some women who do not view thin women in a positive way. They look down on them for their lack of fat, berating them for being small, even going so far as one Facebook post that has circulated the past few months, which says, “Real men like curves; only dogs go for bones.” This quote implies curvy women are the only ones worth a man’s time, without taking into account that all women have curves, and large women just have more pronounced curves. This quote is so disturbing because it has been re-posted many times by both men and women, which proves our society is not evolved enough to accept that different people have different types of bodies.
In today’s world, women are constantly scrutinized for their looks. Many women feel insecure about their body type and are even ashamed of their physical appearance. Overweight women are sometimes looked down upon for their weight, but the thing most people do not bother thinking twice about is how thin women are looked at by others. People may assume being thin is a good thing for a woman.
However, as Kirsten Anderberg, author of Radical Body Politics for WOMEN realizes, “thin women live in as much, if not more weight slavery than fat women.” Being constantly complimented for being thin is something some women look forward to and encourage, but at what point does this complimenting cross the line? If a woman’s body type is the only thing she is praised for, doesn’t it start to make her feel as if her body is the only thing she has to be proud of? What about her intelligence, sense of humor, or strong work ethic? Those are things I would rather be praised for, not my weight. I have been reprimanded numerous times by people of various ages and sizes: “Go eat a cheeseburger,” “Do you ever eat?” “You are so skinny,” “Get some meat on those bones,” and even asked what size clothes I wear.
The worrisome part is that no one would ever dare to say the equivalent to an overweight or obese woman. It would be seen as offensive if I were to go up to a woman who is a size 18 and say, “You’re so fat! You need to lose some weight, you elephant.” Imagine if I asked that same woman what size jeans she wears. She would probably call me a skinny bitch and complain to anyone who would listen. Why, then, do people treat thin and fat women differently? If someone’s weight is unhealthy, whether by being underweight or overweight, changes should be made in a person’s diet and workout routine. Both extremes can be dangerous.
In the article “Naturally skinny people have their own challenges,” Jessica Yadegaran explains, “We associate control, will power and strength with thinness. But for people who are naturally thin, it causes them to feel bad about themselves. They’re not trying to be the object of envy. And they don’t want to have to explain themselves. Why should they?” Being naturally thin is different than having an eating disorder. For people who are thin because of their genes, it may be difficult for them to feel good about their bodies when others point out that they didn’t work hard to be thin; they were just born that way. They may even feel as if they do not deserve to be thin. If people were more accepting of healthy thinness, they would not feel as if they have something wrong with their body and should be ashamed for not having a “normal” sized body.
When women receive criticism about their bodies from men, it is bad enough, but when it comes from their fellow women, their sisters and friends, it is so much worse. No woman wants to be told she is stick thin or that if she turns sideways she might disappear. Thin women are not invisible; they have a voice just as strong as plus-sized women and they deserve to be heard too.
In Mackenzie Newcomb’s article “Why There are Worse Things In The World Than ‘Skinny-Shaming,’” she discusses why being called out for being skinny is not a big deal and tries to make the point that skinny women do not have it nearly as bad as bigger women. Newcomb rants, “I have friends who are really thin and are genuinely self-conscious about it, but nobody would prefer the other side of the spectrum. Any girl with thighs that overlap would LOVE to hear she has ‘chicken legs.’ I know you don’t like it — I understand that it offends you. But realize that what is an insult to you would make someone else’s day.” Newcomb points out that she is a large, curvy woman, so her comments make sense, but she goes too far in her protest. I do not think any woman wants to be told she has chicken legs, just like a large woman would not want to be told she resembles a cow. Relating a person’s weight to an animal is dehumanizing, no matter how low their weight may be. Having less fat on your body does not make you less of a person.
Thin people want everyone else to stop thin-shaming and fat people want everyone else to stop fat-shaming. Why is it that everyone wants to be called skinny? Congrats, you have a minimal amount of fat on your body! Good job! That is really something to be proud of, to be able to show off a flat stomach in a string bikini or crop top, and have men drool over your sex appeal, while women stare in envy. That is the epitome of what it means to be a woman, not having a successful career, writing a novel, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or graduating from college with honors. Nope. Being skinny is more important than any of the aforementioned accomplishments.
It is about time that we emphasize a woman’s value in more important terms than what she looks like. Whether she is fat or skinny, the amount of fat on her frame does not determine the content of her character or the ultimate example of her success. A woman’s importance is the change she makes in the world, the way she treats others, the goals she achieves, and the hard work she endures to do all of this. A woman’s worth is more than her body.