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. 

Share your thoughts

24 Responses

  1. You are a true inspiration for writing this! People usually assume that body shaming means shaming toward overweight people.But it also should be refereed to underweight girls as well.Cause in the end,words like “anorexic”,”underweight”,”stick” are all forms of body shaming.

  2. I do not believe body types have to be enemies. I am a thin girl and I have a lot of insecurities about not being feminine or sexy enough feeling like I lack curves and I have tried to do lots about it when I was going through a hard time with getting harassed about it by objectifying older men, telling me I wasn’t thick enough. Though, I also believe I am beautiful for simply being the human way I am. Now that I have learned to accept the natural body I was given and how I was build with a fast metabolism.

    1. I understand it is a touchy subject, but also I just think in an ideal world we would be trying to accept all body types and not promote one by bashing another. Not that you are bashing them, but I know many that put skinny girls down and that too isn’t okay.

  3. Oh Jeezzz! Being thin must be horrible! Why do you think young girls starve themselves and barf up anything over 2 calories to fit in a size 0? Cause being called ‘thin’ is offensive, RIGHT? Nope. You completely contradicted the first part with the second part of your article. Actually, did you know some models starve to get as thin as they are? You make it sound like fat is the enemy, and that all girls with more cushion are bas and are trying to destroy skinny womens’ self esteem. No. Marilyn Monroe-esque women are not taking over runways and campaigns. When curvy women star in such campaigns, they are not telling YOU that YOU have to change. They are simply being proud of their body, which is what you’re tryong to do. Think of a plump woman in your situation. She hates herself, she is standing in front of the mirror, eyeing every small roll or trace of pudge. She wishes for slender legs, she longs for a slim torso and a slim body. Imagine a young teenager, about 13. She is trying to love herself. She counts every calorie and runs many miles a day. She is currently eating only raspberries. She stares at the mirror. You see her hip bone and her ribcage poking out of her skin. She sees a surplus of fat everywhere. All of these people, just like you want a safe space to express themselves without being judged. Why can we not all love ourselves?

    1. This is a shamefully disgusting, childish, and condescending post. Think about that before you reply. Thank you.

  4. And for those insisting Marilyn was big. Marilyn was extremely slender, her curves were dramatic, a waist size most of us can only dream about. So get real, all of you.. I am not saying Fat shaming is good. But get the right idea about curves; and realize that life has more than just curves.

  5. A feminist, hence I believe, there is more to a women, that just her breasts and buttocks. I believe curves can exist, or not exist at any size. So a size 6 since 19 years. My body shaped late, I was on skinnier side, but once puberty hit.. My body had curves. Real curves, long legs, I have good stuff at right places, I am talking crass, because many women have crassly commented I put on weight to make my husband happy; but my husband loves my curves and insists I not put on. Now, my “fairer” sister was plump, short. The comparison affected my teens, making me believe something was wrong with my body. My step aunts, fat (not just plump) loved the comparison to my sister, my own mom bred this comparison. When my husband insisted he likes someone slender like me, finds me prettier despite my being darker than my sis; (him being much fair) his wordings were taken as concern for me and not truth. However, now at middle age.. I feel my body was always good, curvy, model like despite my shorter slender stature. I have received compliments from many men; but women often shame me; sometimes even commenting that I am a size 0. when in reality, I am a full size 6, sometimes 8!! However my arms are slender, my legs are slender and long too, so I am definitely not plump. So what do they want? That I eat, and get fat to get curves? When I well know, that I am healthy, strong and curvy, despite being slender!!! Yep, it happens to some women. And its funny, how aggressive such an argument can take, even when I try avoiding such women.

  6. Pingback: blankenship13
  7. There are points that I both agree with and disagree with in this article. The main thing that rubs me the wrong way, is that there seems to be a false equivalence drawn between thinness and fatness. If we look at them on the institutional scale, fat bodies are dispriviliged, in the work force, coming down the sidewalk, in stores and fashions. On that level, there is no comparison. But yes, to look on an individual level, the shaming of body types all plays into this greater narrative of control that is sought over people. To me, the whole attack another body type, the “opposite” body type/size/etc. is ridiculously reactionary, and if we want to do better, our responses as conscious individuals have to be more than reactionary. We can’t look over at groups which we don’t fit into, which ARE not privileged in the same way, and see a positivity movement (true ones, that don’t set themselves in opposition to the privileged group) and say they have this, why can’t we have it to…it’s like, because everything else around you already bolsters you in a way that it doesn’t them.
    It’s like when White people get mad about BET, or HuluLatino, or things that are supposed to target disenfranchised people, and do so openly/honestly. They get upset without registering that those spaces exist BECAUSE of the lack of representation in mainstream.
    And this goes more into the conversations happening in the comments.

    I feel like we need a body positivity and respect movement. We don’t need reactionary rhetoric between groups, but moves to dismantle what made all of the hurtful shit possible.

  8. Well not an article i thought would see print in this day and age. I,Jeff is my name, am a slight/skinny man. I can not count the number of times i have been told I’m too thin for a man, be it from family, friends or woman i wish to pursue. I’m 32 years old, 5ft 7 and 120LBS. I have done the “hit the gym” method, which did give me more tone, but my body doesnt hold any bulk/weight, which was depressing. I have found that although i am talkative with some charms and humor, i am that “guy”, the skinny creepy guy (how attempting to say “hello” is creepy i do not understand). I am thin and would prefer to meet a thin partner, sadly i’m always introduced to the plus sized friend of the women i approach if i am luck enough to not be deemed “creepy”. So i guess that makes me guilty also for not finding plus sized people attractive, but what a bum wrap we can get for the body type we were born with, to the point were you are seem as unworthy. There should be a place for the thin to congregate which excludes the plus sized/broader people. If this place exists..where is it?

    1. I see you fail to realise that society in itself indirectly and directly praises the fact that “skinny is beautiful”. Curvy women have rarely faced that type of praise and have felt ashamed of what they look like because of the intense lack of appreciation so there is no need to do so, love. If you dig deep enough into the beauty industry of the Western world, the campaign for “skinny is beautiful” is everywhere.

  9. THANK YOU! Finally somebody who writes about being skinny!
    I’m eighteen years old and all my life I’ve heard quite hurtful things, from my bullies, but worst of all my friends. “Hey gollum, eat something for once!” my favorite bully would say to me. “Be careful you don’t break apart.”
    Or: “Where does all that food go?!” is what my friends say aswell as: “Are you sure you don’t any more? YOU could use it!”
    Writing this now makes me realize how sensitive I am about the subject. Though I’ve learned to accept my petite figure.
    Thing is, I don’t think most people notice that they’re being offensive or hurtful. But it is.

    So thank you for posting about this topic! It’s a relief to know it’s not just me being over-sensitive.

  10. I have always had this problem too… The first was really in High School when someone called me anorexic. I could not believe it and then it was “twiggy” and if you stood sideways and stuck out your tongue you would look like a zipper” I Still got the hateful looks and words as I went in the workplace and still at the age of 47. I am who I am and I feel sorry for all that had to and are going through this….Thick or Thin… Why do people have to point it out and comment? I do not do that to people. Shame on them… I am beautiful! So are U!

    1. Hello, my name is Emory. Last year in high school I was tormented for being skinny and all the kids would make fun of me and call me “twiggy” which is why your comment stuck out to me. I am half latina and the stigma is if you’re hispanic you need to have curves but I don’t and so therefore I get teased and it makes me feel like I cannot be feminine or attractive. I have moved through lots of treatment centers for different things one of them being body image issues with being “too skinny” and I am now 16 which is still pretty young. I wish people would shed some more light on the idea that Body Equality is not supporting one body type by bashing another. If we are trying to be positive about our bodies then I wish they wouldn’t put things everywhere saying “Real men want woman with curves.” because to me it makes me feel like I cannot be beautiful. I have experienced a lot with this, back last year when I was still “twiggy” to the kids bullying me they would send weight gain pills and bars to my house and my best friend who really wasn’t a true friend at all would bring tons of junk food to my house and film me eating it and send the videos to boys a caption it with things like “Looks like twiggys trying to get thick now!!” which is terrible and now that I have learned to love myself for the natural way I was built as Emory I know I deserve respect. Anyhow, just thought I’d say this because your comment really stuck out to my personal experience.

  11. Jasmine,I,too,faced & still do sometimes face such kind of remarks for being thin or so-called times,I feel like a jerk but enough of it…,not from now…your post brought a big smile on my face and a sense of confidence within me..thank you so very much..I really needed someone to tell me that I should believe in myself and love what and how I am since I am not above God and His way of creating and keeping me on this earth is something I must accept with all love..:)

    1. Welcome to Girls’ Globe!

      One size most definitely doesn’t fit everyone. I do believe that diversity of body and color makes us beautiful, and we should come to appreciate different shapes and sizes, instead of stereotyping and categorizing them.
      Thank you for visiting our blog! Please continue to do so in the future!

  12. This is not only demeaning, but it’s just plain untrue. Many size 0s and 2s do indeed have curves, which tend to be much more noticeable on women that size than on women who are larger sizes. I really don’t understand how “curvy” ever came to mean “plus-sized,” when it really refers to proportions. Does anyone really think that Christina Hendricks would lose her (beautiful) curvy figure if she suddenly lost weight?

    1. Hello and welcome to Girls’ Globe,

      Curvy was never primarily associated with ‘fat’, nor is thin associated with the lack of curves. We talk about body size, and the generally held conception that curves help us look sexy and gain body-approval, which isn’t true. While a skinny woman can most certainly harbor curves (and be beautiful), it is wrong to condemn thin bodies that do not have curves, or do not fit the societal proportions of beauty. Cristina Hendricks would most certainly be beautiful, whether she has curves or not. The post seeks body-approval, with or without curves, and does not seek to justify one’s curves in proportion to one’s body size.
      Thank you for your comment and for your interest in Girls’ Globe. We hope you continue to visit our blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Never miss a post!

Subscribe to our emails and get notified when a new post is published!

Use Your Voice & Share Stories for Impact!

SPECIAL OFFER: Enroll in Digital Storytelling for Impact by November 17, and get free coaching from our founder, Julia Wiklander.

Coming Soon!

Subscribe and be the first to
know when we launch.

The content on Girls’ Globe is created by our members – activists, advocates and experts on gender equality, human rights and social justice from around the world.