I recently read a Buzzfeed list on Facebook about 17 Problems ALL Naturally Skinny People Will Understand Yes, I know Buzzfeed is just an entertainment entity but it got me thinking. Fat shaming versus skinny shaming…versus….
Would we be more likely to comment to our skinny friends about their weight? Would I ask a skinny friends if she is ok? Assuming something is wrong with her. Commenting that maybe stress, or her thyroid, or too much exercise might be the culprit for her thinness. Joking about how nice it must be to be thin. Assuming they don’t have any body image issues because of their tiny waistline. Have I done this? Yes. Have I accidentally skinny shamed my thin friends? Yep. Guilty. Not ok.
Would I dare ask an overweight friend if she is ok? Would I comment that maybe stress, or her thyroid, or too little exercise may be the culprit. Would I joke about how eating our feelings is a common phenomenon. No, I wouldn’t ask, that would be ‘fat shaming’…but I have made ‘fat’ comments about my own body. Is that ‘fat shaming’. Yep. Guilty. Not ok.
But now that I’m thinking about this and when I really look at the issue, I have also ‘height shamed’ my tall and petite friends alike. Commenting on how some clothes just look better if you’re tall and that it must be nice to be able to reach things high up. That weight is easier to distribute over a taller frame. Or that some clothes are extra cute on petite frames. That some places are more comfortable when you’re smaller like an airplane. You may be thinking who says these things or you may be thinking, oh geez…I do that too. Have I done this? Yep. Guilty. Not ok.
So it turns out it looks like this is a bigger issue. Not just ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’. It’s about stature in general. All of it is ‘body shaming’ which I’ve decided can be anytime someone comments on another’s body type. It is the non asked for opinions that are directly related to someone’s body type bringing an unwelcome focus and attention.
I have inadvertently ‘skinny shamed’ my thin friends. And I am sorry. I also have ‘body shamed’ my friends who are tall or petite, muscular, willowy, voluptuous, young, old….I never really thought about it from their point of view. I just made comments about how I assumed their life was like related to their body type without thinking. I’m sure most knew it was meant as a compliment, but I’m sure at times I may have offended some.
Society does this too. At Starbucks there is a non-fat, sugar-free latte…known on the menu as a ‘skinny latte’. When I think about it sounds condescending. Starbucks wouldn’t dare label my favorite the double chocolate extra whip coffee drink the ‘Fat Frappuccino’. Seriously, I know it has more calories than a milkshake. I can make that choice for myself. If I want the non-fat, sugar-free coffee, I should be able to order that without feeling unattractive. Skinny doesn’t need to be in there. Name it the ‘Make You Smile’ latte and the ‘Make You Happy Frappy’. Make people laugh.
At the store I buy ‘skinny jeans’. I am not skinny. Again, it feels condescending. As if I should be skinny. There are no jeans labeled ‘fat jeans’. I know there are ‘wide leg’ and ‘boot cut’. I know these are the cut of the pant but…Yes, pants are labeled petite, tall, long, and short. Why bring physical appearance adjectives into the name. They have a size number for a reason, that’s enough. Give them a name like ‘Love Your Butt No Matter What’ jeans.
I watch commercial after commercial for diet pills and exercise regimens. Clothes to suck this in and push that out. Always something to change, fix, mold or shape. Even the “mommy makeover”. a full body plastic surgery to put us back together after pregnancy and childbirth. Never any that say to smile at ourselves. No feel good in your skin ads. No you are good enough promotions. No yes, you had a baby and you look great commercials. I guess self-worth doesn’t sell brands. I think it should.
My thoughts are we should not say anything about someone’s specific body type unless asked. Thin people know they are thin. Overweight people also know they are overweight. Tall people know what its like to be tall and the petite know what its like to be small. When we see people of any body type we need to remember that they know their own body. It is not our business unless they invite us into the conversation. Then we can be supportive in ways that are beneficial.
I wouldn’t think to ‘fat shame’ anyone and now that I’m more aware I will be conscious of not ‘skinny shaming’ either. I’m going to step it up and include remembering to not ‘body shame’. To all my friends and strangers alike, from now on it will be strictly non-body shape directed comments. If I want to comment on anyone I will keep it simple, to the tone of “You are lovely”. “You are kind”. ‘You are a wonderful friend”.
Bodies are bodies and they come in a varying array of shapes and sizes. We need to focus on our own health, doing what makes ourselves feel healthiest. Don’t ‘accidentally’ shame someone by saying anything, no matter how helpful you think you are. We should promote being happy. We should concentrate on being content with ourselves. We need to focus our opinions of what we feel is most attractive projected on our own bodies and not the bodies of others. Here’s to the end of ‘body shaming’. I’m in! Are you? 🙂