The Truth About Body-Shaming And Why You Can’t Win Either Way

You’re either “All About That Bass” or have too much bass. You celebrate your curves, but filter the sh!t out of your Instagram photos. You love the au naturel ads that utilize the same type of model throughout as their conformity. You’re either too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, too flabby, too ripped, too voluptuous or not voluptuous enough. When does the body shaming end?

As a naturally curvy woman with a slight hormonal imbalance under investigation for PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), I know the struggle. I yo-yo and fluctuate from one diet to another. But when I don’t limit myself, I gain weight very easily – which is why I pursue strict regimens. With this condition, it’s potentially more difficult for me to lose weight – aside from my larger bone structure and early bloomer shape,

Saying that, I’ve successfully completed diets where I’ve lost 50 pounds or more – only to gain it back again, effortlessly it seems. Well, that’s not the complete truth. I reside in a very big Italian family that loves to feed me with pasta and bread, but I can’t completely fault them for that. Of course, it’s all about caloric expenditure – calories in, calories out. But when you’re surrounded by naturally thin people who have the metabolism to eat all of your chocoholic heart’s desires and not gain a single pound, you’re just like ‘Why can’t I live?” – and devour everything in sight.

Events and dining don’t seem to help. But I believe as much as food is something you need to eat to survive and indulge in moderation, sometimes you just want to live to eat and not just eat to live. Because what is life without cupcakes?

As much as I crave to have endless legs and long limbs, I know I’ll never be that girl – and that’s ok. I will never have a thigh gap or a bikini bridge. Add that to my possible PCOS and full lower half, and I can relate more to the Kardashian girls than you think.

Because as much as you want to taste as good as skinny feels, you know you can’t literally taste as good as skinny feels. J-Law was right, when she said there were a ton of things she could think of that taste better than skinny feels (like pizza). And while celebs like Kim Kardashian may inadvertently lead to body shaming about thinner girls, you have to admit they kind of brought curves back to the spotlight again.

And no no no, this is not a statement to promote obesity or the see-food diet as naysayers would claim. But as much as I would like to reinforce healthy body types, I also think we should encourage body diversity in the media and in the heads of everyone around us.

Because while everyone can insinuate displaying so-called “overweight” plus-size models can reap just as much corruption as relishing “emancipated” straight-size models, the fact of the matter is that everyone needs to wear clothes. And while everyone may not be a size 2, it doesn’t mean that you should create unflattering or unfitting attire to shame them into molding themselves into your (the brand’s) personal mannequins.

The reality is, not everyone could or should be a size 2. As a teenager and adult, I’ve ranged from a size 8 to 18 – and everything in between. While i’m not always at my best, the “lowest” I could achieve to – with the minimum amount of food and maximum quantity of exercise before unsafe limits – was approximately a size 8. So while some may beg to differ, I am proof that every body is different, and not everyone possesses the predetermined or natural “set weight”/body type/bone structure to be a “size 2.”

The worst is running into people from your past (or present!) who don’t understand this. They always make a point of comparing you to when they last saw you or pointing out your weight gain/size (as if you didn’t notice!) Last summer, I went to my local bar’s pub night and reconnected with an old coach from my preteen years. From the ages of 11-14, I was already well-endowed for my age. At that time, I first started experimenting with vigourous exercise and dieting. I lost about 20-25 pounds, when I didn’t even need to all while gaining back some post-puberty.

Anyway, this coach hasn’t seen me since I was 14. I actually recognized him first and then when I told him who I was, he finally remembered! After a long conversation, we would run into each other at the bar multiple times. But regardless of the fact that I was 12 around the time I was at my “thinnest”, that didn’t stop him from incessantly making inappropriate remarks about my “size”. He kept on telling my friends and I to come back to train at his studio, so I could return back to my “body” (from when I was 12, so 5 “ews” on the gross factor). Even though I was well-developed for my age and had an “adult” 110-120 pound body that could be attainable past the age of 12, that was me at the age of 12. What my age of 12 is may not look like your age of 12, just like my 22 or 26 won’t look like your’s!

Aside from those cruel comments as an obvious cash grab to convince others to take his classes, there have been times where people (him included) would say that “physical attraction is important in a relationship” or “more guys will like you if you did this” or “you’d be prettier if you lost weight” – all basically implying that my weight was directly correlated to my outer beauty.

I understand some relatives, friends or even acquaintances believe they hold some audacity in telling you that you need to lose weight because of your health and their “concern for you”. But when they incorporate your questioned level of attractiveness as an incentive, it probably doesn’t motivate you more than as much as it makes you feel shitty – at least in my experience, anyway.

But, I think many would agree. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have been complimented and catcalled at a variety of sizes. I can’t calculate if it was more or less depending on certain weights, outfits or times of night, but I do know this. Every guy (and gal!) likes something different. Not to say you shouldn’t change your weight even if you’re unhealthy (if your weight’s affecting your wellness, by all means do so!) But for example, some guys like the hourglass Christina Hendricks – while other men prefer the petite Jessica Alba. Some are breast-men, some are ass-men. Some drool at the presence of Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, others at Nicki Minaj gyrating. I think you get the picture.

And if your man tells you to drop a few – for his sake? Cut him loose, and there you go – the easiest 180 lbs you’ll ever lose!

What boggles me most is when the media (or anyone) shames pregnant women. Even if expecting celebs are rocking a patterned midriff-baring frock, just don’t say anything! They’re fulfilling the most important roles they’ll ever employ – becoming mothers and bringing other beings into the world, taking care of the greatest breath they could ever conceive: the miracle of life! Their bodies are preparing for that position, and obviously they need to expand enough room in their bodies to carry a baby. On the other hand, don’t ever ask or assume if anyone is pregnant – unless you want to get punched in the face (this is truth).

But whether it be pregnancy, rapid weight loss/gain or growth, stretch marks and cellulite are also something that nature allows us to reproduce. As much as we can trim and tone, it’s only inevitable we’ll get stretch marks, We can apply creams to diminish their appearance, but even celebrities with their personal chefs and trainers can’t escape these little scars of beauty. But, don’t hide that war paint. Show it off, like many mothers and stars alike have publicly stepped up to do (well, Instagram and Facebook-wise anyway).

…Which leads to our next discussion about imperfection now being revealed and reveled in the media. If there’s gonna be a Dad Bod, there best be a Mom Bod. Why is it that guys can rock the Dad Bod when their bodies don’t even need to gain weight or give birth, but the mothers are the last to be heard? Maybe I’m wrong, but perhaps someone should start a trend on this Mom Bod so we don’t feel bad just staying the same!

In the media, we see these campaigns left and right about how “real women have curves” or that those plus-size models are “no Angels”. But, can creating a campaign that selectively advertises traditional models, plus-size models or “normal people” be considered body-shaming?

Just like Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” has been applauded for becoming an international anthem for “larger” women, it has also been scrutinized for skinny-shaming – with its lyrics about “boys like a little more booty to hold at night” or “I’m bringing booty back, tell all those skinny bitches that”. But, do we always have to be politically correct and assume she isn’t skinny-shaming; because she also sings “Because every inch of you is perfect, from your head until your toe”. Can we apply this to everyone, thin or thick?

Whether we Photoshop the plus-size models to still smooth them out as “average-sized” or the conventional print models with larger breasts and butts, are we body-shaming? But when we keep every body natural in ads, are we not body-shaming but still incorrectly promoting body diversity or unhealthy weight?

No matter what we do, we’ll always upset or disrespect someone who thinks we’re body-shaming or not body-shaming enough. If we don’t work out enough or at all, we get that we’re not toned enough. But if we (as women or men) achieve a “ripped” bodybuilder look, we’re either buying into that trend of the gym wear’n’tear or deemed as too “masculine” and “beastly”.

If your boobs are too small, those plunging necklines may fit you – but you won’t fill them out. If your boobs are too big, you can strut and seduce in those tops all you want – but you shouldn’t, because it’s too slutty. Of course, I’m all for dressing for your body type; but I also believe you should be able to wear whatever you want!

Flat ass? Do squats, but not too many. You don’t want it to look fake! If employers hire people of a certain size, they may do it to create a certain image they believe can only really sell clothes. As sexy as those models can be, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see someone who looks like you and you and you! wearing something you like to see how it will fit you?

Fair enough, but the point is – be yourself. You can’t control people’s opinions of you. But on the other hand, those opinions should be none of your business – which is why people should keep their thoughts to themselves. You have no right to shame anyone, let alone their body. In other words – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. You’re welcome. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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