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On Skinny-Shaming: Not all real women have curves!

Recently, the world witnessed a surge of criticism on fat-shaming, with many plus-sized women coming out to flaunt their bodies and starting “Love Your Body” campaigns. Size zero went from an ideal body size to something women started looking at as unnecessarily and disgustingly unattainable. Marilyn Monroe became the new ‘ideal’ of a woman. Today, more women want to be like her. More runway designers are showcasing plus-size models in their shows and designing clothes for bigger-sized women. There is a new-found conception that ‘real women have curves.’

Photo credit: Stephanie London
Photo credit: Stephanie London

Though I do believe that women with curves are beautiful and that they should prize their body shapes, I do not believe that all real women should have curves. In the midst of the movement to build self-esteem for plus-size women, we often forget that we might be demeaning women who are naturally thin or have size-zero bodies.  While the world has become more body-positive, the movement to help bolster self-worth can sometimes inadvertently happen at the expense of someone or something else. In the light of body-acceptance and fighting the body ideal, it is a myth that thin women have it easy.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “skinny-shaming” is the act of demeaning someone on the basis of being ‘skinny’ or ‘too thin.’ Skinny-shaming often takes the form of a negative connotation and places guilt on one’s body, for being a certain shape and size.

“Fat-shaming” is often given the privilege of a negative act, while skinny-shaming is seen by most as essentially positive, or a phrase used to ‘compliment’ those who are thin. The truth is that skinny-shaming is just as negative as fat-shaming is.

Thin women constantly face criticism on their body sizes, and are often faced with comments such as:

“How do you manage to be so thin?”

“You could use some weight.”

“Be careful, the wind might blow you away.”

“You’re so thin, you look anorexic.”

“Why do you even need to work out?”

And worst of all:

You’re too thin to breastfeed.

If you wouldn’t call a fat woman fat, why would you want to call a thin woman thin? 

Photo credit: Allison Shaaff
Photo credit: Allison Shaaff

While skinny-shaming usually centers around female bodies, it is a fact that even men face this societal evil. A masculine body is often described to be lean, muscular and broader in structure to a female body. Thin men are called out for their weight and often told that they are “too thin for a man” or “not manly enough.” It is important that we recognize that not all men have broader frames and bodies cannot be judged relatively. Our bodies, both male and female, are our own, and shouldn’t be subject to anyone’s approval.

Personally, I have faced more criticism than appreciation on my size-zero figure. As someone who was born thin, I grew up listening to my friends complain about how “anorexic” I was. No one ever took into account that I was perfectly healthy and strong. I had relatives bring me food and friends occasionally buy me food at the mall. People constantly told me I could quit visiting the gym or keeping count of my calories. My size-zero figure became a burden on my living,  forcing me to eat more than I could. I desperately sought to attain those curves that made one a “real woman.”

After facing skinny-shaming for 19 years of my life, I now realize that I should be happy with what I have. I realize that as long as I am a fit and healthy person, no one can ask me to justify my size. I realize that I should take offense at someone passing a derogatory remark on my size. I realize that I am beautiful and that I should love my body.

Body acceptance starts from within.

We must learn to love our body, shape and size.

We need not justify our body size to anyone.

Not everything that is beautiful or feminine is curvy.

I do not need curves to be called a real woman.

For more information about skinny shaming, check out these additional links:

* Featured image credit: Flickr user Charlotte Astrid. Image listed under Creative Commons license. 

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Category: Uncategorized    Wellness
Tagged with: anorexia    Body image    campaigns    curves    Female body shape    huffpost    jasmine bala    loveyourbody    Marilyn Monroe    Real women    self-identification    skinny    skinny-shaming