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Trendy Insults: Is Skinny Shaming the New Fat Shaming?

skinny shaming

Skinny shaming is no better than fat shaming, just more acceptable. How about I agree to be my size, and you yours, and we stop judging one another?

Who didn’t laugh a little the first time they heard that line by Megan Trainor about skinny girls “just teasing, I know you think you’re fat”? We all know that skinny bitch who obsesses about how she looks, but why do we care? Why is it totally unacceptable to call someone fat, but telling someone they are skinny and meaning it in a derogatory way is totally acceptable?

I suppose that within a society, whatever is hardest to obtain is the thing most envied. If everyone were naturally skinny, it would be desirable to be plump.

In recent years, there has been a new trend to accept women of all sizes for who they are. Thank goodness there has been a backlash from the previous several decades, where the media has painted pictures of unattainable shapes for young and old women alike in an attempt to dictate how women should look. I, for one, am thankful that we can all be the size we want without reprisal or fear… or can we?

When I was overweight, I was told that I should lose weight. Then when I did, I was told I was too skinny. So what is the ideal weight? I have been fat and I have been skinny, and I will tell you that no matter where you are, there is someone who is ready to tell you that you shouldn’t be there. It’s nearly impossible to be the perfect size, and when you are, you are no longer anything but a size. What do I mean by that? When you are fit and have the body that everyone else wants, women don’t want to be around you or can’t help themselves but to comment about your shape. [Read: 12 things guys like in a girl besides her appearance]

What is skinny shaming?

Skinny shaming is a new trend where women who are deemed as “too skinny” are called out and held as the epitome of being self-involved, unhealthy, or just downright someone to dislike. Recent posts from women who have lost weight and posted themselves on social media sites have encountered ugly comments and campaigns like never before in history.

Celebrities fill tabloid pages next to labels like “anorexia” or “near death.” All of a sudden, not only can you not be overweight, but you can’t be too skinny, either. Skinny shaming is the new “in” thing. You’d better not gain too much weight if you’re in the spotlight, but in the same respect, you’d better not be too thin.

The beginnings of skinny shaming

The seventies brought with it models like Twiggy—wafer thin, poker-straight hips, and matching hair was all that was posted across fashion magazines. Prepubescent and emaciated looks were the new envy in the world of high fashion, leaving the curvaceous beauties so “yesterday.” That continued for as long as I have been around. The eighties were no different, with Kate Moss leading the charge that you couldn’t ever be too thin or too rich.

Growing up in a thin society was miserable for those of us who were born slightly big-boned or who had a difficult time getting rid of baby fat. Breeding a gender of insecure women who were riddled with guilt about being too big, bulimia and anorexia began to become an epidemic.

In the nineties, there was a shift in the ideal body image. No longer did women want to look like they could faint at any second from malnutrition. It was about hitting the gym and getting fit. Jennifer Anniston and Courtney Cox began to lose their curves and become the idealization of what hot looks like. Tight bodies with lots of definition replaced supermodels who could fit into a size that was surely designed for a woman no taller than 5-foot. [Read: How to look better naked by using 15 real life tips]

Enter the new generation

I have a 19-year-old son, and he is the answer to years of women’s starving themselves and the media’s telling not only women what they should look like, but also showing men what they should be attracted to. I was shocked the first time he voiced to me that a model in a magazine was too thin.

Feeling hopeful that his generation would finally accept women for whatever size they are and see beauty in uniqueness, it was a relief that perhaps my girls wouldn’t spend their time obsessing about what they eat. They wouldn’t mull over what they shouldn’t eat, or spend their lunch time at school pretending they don’t eat at all.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the skinny shaming campaign that had begun. All of a sudden, it was like a tidal shift. Finally, it’s okay for women to be big, bold, and beautiful, but now, there’s a new ugly monster: being labeled as “too skinny.” As if you are being too conformist, or bowing to the pressures of others around you, being thin has become the new insecurity and weakness. If you are too skinny, you have a problem and are self-involved and worthy of being picked on. And just like that, skinny shaming has become the new fat shaming. [Read: Low self-worth: 5 steps to see yourself in a better light]

Perfection is simply never going to be attainable, and that’s okay

What I have found is that the only way to be a perfect size is to be happy with who you are. If we could all stop worrying about the size of our pants and focus a little more on what makes us happy and healthy, there would be so much less wasted time, less anxiety, and much more camaraderie between us. Instead of wanting to be something you aren’t, it would be so liberating to be able to embrace who you are on the inside and let that shine on the outside.

The truth is that when I was overweight, I was unhappy. When I was skinny, I was unhappy. Not because of my size or the way that I appeared on the outside, but because I wasn’t concerned enough about who I was on the inside. Never doing things to make yourself feel good, and constantly looking for affirmation from those on the outside can leave you feeling empty and never good enough.

Skinny shaming is no less harmful than fat shaming. News flash:  when you tell someone they’re too skinny, you’re not giving them a compliment. We all know what “too skinny” means. When you skinny shame, it only makes you look envious. If you’re secure with yourself, then it shouldn’t matter to you at all what anyone else looks like. Stop worrying about comparing yourself and others if you want to lead a truly happy and satisfied life.

How about we make a pact? I will let you be you, and you let me be me. If I am too skinny, realize that it isn’t your concern, and if it really is your concern, then approach me to have a conversation about your worry.

I won’t tell you what you are, and would appreciate if you could just be okay that I am who and what I am, no matter what my skin and bones represents to the outside world. Let’s not make skinny the new fat. It doesn’t feel any better when you judge people and tell them they are too skinny than when you tell them they are too fat. [Read: 11 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

Too much of anything is never a good thing, no matter how you spin it. Let’s work on boosting each up other instead of tearing each other down. It isn’t what size our pants are that matters; it’s the size of our hearts that truly defines us.

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Julie Keating
Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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