You’ve been looking forward to a much-needed girls night out. You’re putting your make-up on and are wearing your favorite dress. You hear your phone and check your text messages. It’s from one of the girls: “Can I borrow your emerald green dress for tonight? I know it doesn’t fit you currently, and it’s just a shame to let a gorgeous dress like that sit in the back of the closet!” You look in the mirror and wonder, “Should I really be wearing it?”
The next day, a coworker who you rarely cross paths with tells you good morning, and then immediately blasts you for the donut you are about to eat. “Are you sure you should be eating that?” she says with her eyebrows raised, gesturing towards your midsection. “It took me nine months to gain this baby weight; I expect it to take the same amount of time to lose it,” you say through your teeth, trying to laugh her off.
Later that week, you go to a family gathering and your mother-in-law saunters over before you have a chance to avoid her. “Your face is pudgier than usual. Have you gained weight?” she says, all while having the nerve to be eating chocolate cake in front of you. “My weight is none of your business!” you want to say, but promised your husband you would be nice since you’re there for her birthday.
I think most would agree that this sort of body shaming is unacceptable. These scenarios are, however, fictionalized and opposite versions of interactions that I have had with girlfriends, coworkers, and family. While some do acknowledge that body shaming extends beyond fat shaming, my own interactions with people have told me that no one really seems to think much of skinny shaming.
Fat Shaming to Skinny Shaming – Body Shaming is Wrong
I come from a long line of tall and thin individuals. My size is partially attributed to how I choose to eat, but mostly, it’s just genetics. I eat constantly. My sister and husband often poke fun at me because I epitomize the Snicker’s commercial – “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” If we are ever with a group of people waiting to eat, I do not mind being the first in line to fix my plate. Everyone else is just looking around not wanting to go first – give me that plate! I say all that to say, I EAT. I am not anorexic. I do not have a thyroid problem; it’s been checked. My thin body is just that, my body.
It is so tiresome to feel the need to defend my size and weight to just about everybody – family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers.
I honestly don’t think people are trying to insult me with their comments; they just aren’t well-thought out. If I say that I don’t like unsweet tea, I should be able to express that thought without hearing, “You’re skinny. You don’t get an opinion.” Excuse me? That’s not just shaming; it’s rude. It’s literally dismissing a person because of looks.
Another example of these sort of “skinny shaming” comments that I receive is the classic “Give that girl a cheeseburger already!” I love cheeseburgers, but occasionally I do like to eat a salad. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this line. Please let me be the one to think about the food that is going into my body without worrying about what anyone else thinks of my choices.
My weight is my business only.
So while these comments may be well-meaning (although I have my doubts), they do have unintended consequences on me as the receiver. Every single time someone says something like this to me, I immediately feel the need to defend my weight. WHY? My weight is no one’s business but mine and my doctor’s. I should not have to explain to the coworker who doesn’t even know me well enough to know my middle name that I do not have anorexia – my size can be attributed to genetics.
I’ve heard myself tell way too many people, “Well, my dad is very tall and thin, so it makes sense that I’m tall and thin. Plus I’m breastfeeding…” Why do I feel the need to defend this? It is literally no one’s business. I’m done making excuses for things that are beyond my control. It would be like apologizing for being tall, which is just silly.
If we can all agree that fat shaming is wrong, then let’s go ahead and agree that any sort of body shaming is wrong. No one should be made to feel bad or inferior because of their size.