REAL TALK: Skinny Shaming vs. Fat Shaming
The following rant can and will be a little offensive. It contains mentions of eating disorders, explicit quotes of insults and it also contains…an opinion! But all in one, it is a rather positive talk I’ve been wanting to give for a while now.
First of all, it is A FACT that both skinny shaming and fat shaming exist. Both happens on a daily basis. One is just as real as the other. And it hurts, it hurts whoever’s the victim of society speaking through a rude person’s mouth. Due to my eating disorder, I have experienced both of it, which is why I feel the need to share my point of view on this discussion.
As a body positive person, I support every kind of shape. What matters is that the person is happy with the way they look. Everyone deserves this. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their skin and at least try to love themselves. It’s okay if you can’t, but fighting, going on that self love journey, making peace with yourself and every inch of your unique and wonderful body is definitely worth it. Waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and loving what you see is an incomparable kind of happiness that everyone should experience on a daily basis. Self love is about accepting the person you are and what you look like, self love is about treating yourself well.
To me, self love is also wanting other people to love themselves and accepting and tolerating that they will do so under completely different circumstances than you do. Which means, you love yourself with curly hair, other people love themselves with straight hair. Long story short: We all have a different idea of beauty, but the only person that should, for your own well being’s sake, apply to this is YOU.
You cannot and should not force your idea of beautiful on anyone else but you. Nobody in this world was born to visually please you. Just like you weren’t born to visually please others.
Yet, not everybody understands this. It’s 2014 and we have mobile phones that talk to us, yet it seems impossible for some people to accept that we’re all different, look different, live different. It seems impossible for some people not to comment on the looks of others, for whatever reason.
People have a very certain idea of what others “should” look like. People have a very certain idea of how YOU “should” look to please their eyes and if you don’t apply to that, most of these people will let you know.
Like I said in the beginning, I experienced both skinny and fat shaming. I know both are real, like I said. And, like I said, I know that both hurt. It hurts everytime when people make a rude comment on how I look or even “only” say what they think I should do and change to improve my appearance ( what they actually mean is “do this and that to be more attractive to me” ). But there is a big motherfucking difference between skinny and fat shaming. Both exists. But not to the same extent.
Not in the same way.
I have been underweight to the point where I was 2 kg away from being fed through a tube and I have been obese, I have been fat, to the point where didn’t fit into my overweight dad’s sweatpants. Now, guess in what state I didn’t go outside because I was afraid of people staring at me? Guess in what state I was scared of going to school because I knew that even my “friends” would pick on me? I think you already know.
When you’re dangerously skinny, people will be worried and ask if you’re anorexic, even if only few of them know what being anorexic actually means. It doesn’t mean you never eat. It doesn’t mean you’re always skinny. It doesn’t mean that you do this because you want to be a model or something. It solely means that your relationship to food and your body is so fucked that it controls your life. No anorexic is like the other. Eating disorders come in all shapes and ways, they only have one thing in common: They fucking suck. Anyway, when people found out I was truly anorexic and not just magically skinny, they said things like: “You’re so pretty, you don’t need to lose more weight”; “Just eat.”; “Being too skinny isn’t attractive”; “Real women have curves”; “Just eat”; “Darling, you look sick.”; “Just eat” ; “Just eat”. As if any of these comments helped me.
Just saying, I identified as a “real woman” at a BMI of 14 as much as I do now. The amount of fat on your body doesn’t make you more or less of a real woman if you consider yourself one.
The thing is that most of the comments people made when I was skinny were more like worried advice than anything rude. Some people called me skeleton, skinny bitch or even “grim reaper”.
What’s funny is that, in fact, it was mostly rather heavy people who told me to “eat something!” so I could look “how a woman should look!” again. It was mainly heavier people who skinny shamed me than smaller, skinnier people or people of a “normal” weight.
No, the sad truth is that most “normal” sized girls I went to school with would come to me after class, this happened very, very often, and ask me: “How do you do it? What’s your trick? I wanna be that skinny, too.”
I’ve had girls who never talked to me before writing me messages on Facebook asking if I had diet tips for them. I’ve had young girls swooning over my “thigh gap”. I’ve seen my anorexic self on more than one so called “pro ana” blog, idolized by girls who wanted nothing but to be skinny. I know that it’s different for girls who are naturally skinny. They don’t have this voice in their head that actually told them they were succeeding. For a certain amount of time, I was, in fact, proud of being a “thinspo” to the girls around me. “Ana”, how not only I called my illness to make it seem like a friend, was very, very proud of me. I can imagine it’s different for naturally skinny girls. It’s horribly annoying to be called anorexic when you’re not- and even when you are - and simply saying “I don’t do anything to be that skinny” ( which was exactly what I said because of course I didn’t want anyone to know my super fun secret, which was going to bed with a “score” of - 700 calories because I ate about 300 and burned 1000 ) can become a pain in the ass after the tenth time. And I know it hurts when people say you’re “not a real woman”. Fuck, it hurts so bad.
And the few times people in town called me bad names, like I said, “grim reaper”,too, hurt me as well. Fucking skinny shaming IS REAL.
Butby the end of the day, I went home. Turned on my computer and saw girls like me on the internet. Idolized, adored, loved by many. Turned on my TV to watch Topmodel, where the girls, anorexic or not, looked about the same way I did. I read magazines and saw models who looked like me. Went shopping and found clothes my size at first try. I didn’t even need to try them on. At a BMI of 14, I sometimes still needed size M by the way. Just referring to the ridiculous clothing sizes some shops have. I saw my body type in every fucking magazine, every fucking TV show, every fucking film. Skinny people everywhere. Even though I was stuck in the depths of a deadly illness, among my friends, I was probably the skinniest, but still not “the skinny one”. Because being skinny is not abnormal. Just like the stupid heteronormativity, skinny-normativity is a real fucking thing. There’s no such thing as the “skinny friend”, whereas the “fat friend” is a term familiar to all of us, isn’t it? I was never “the skinny one”. I was the “girl with the black hair”, the “girl with these thick eyebrows”, the “tattooed one”, but never did people refer to me as “the skinny one” even though I was so skinny I almost died. I was being accepted. I was, despite the fact Ì was ill, still considered normal. Not being side-eyed all of the time. Nobdy turned their head after me when I wore a crop top, no matter if my ribs showed. If they did, it was young girls and in one case, I literally heard them saying: “Wow, she’s so skinny. I don’t want to get ice cream anymore”.
Because “You’re so skinny” sounds like a compliment. “Did you lose weight?” is a question we ask a friend to tell them “You look better than you did the last time we met”. Being skinny is considered good. Being skinny is considered normal. Even if “too skinny” is being shamed, like I said, even though the line between “skinny” and “too skinny” barely exists, and it hurt, hurt, hurt, it is in NO WAY to be compared to what our society does to overweight people. Skinny shaming is a little itch between the toes whereas fat shaming is a big fucking blister that hurts every time you step outside and try to walk, up to the point where solely going out seems impossible for you.
Because before I relapsed into anorexia, I spent two years of my life being obese.
Right now, I am what I’d consider thick, definitely “a little too big” for my personal idea of beauty, but thanks to my late puberty pretty curvy, so not at all comparable to what I looked like five years ago. Yet, I still hear the things people said to me when I was fat. Being called chubby now, or having to buy the largest available size at H&M Divided still reminds me of the traumatizing shit I went through when I was obese.
I catch myself missing the “You’re so skinny”-comments, but I’d rather jump off a fucking skyscraper than going through the bullying I had to deal with when “Fat pig” was the nicest thing out of all the shit I been called on a daily fucking basis.
In our fucking society, “fat” is an insult. Argue with someone about politics. Call them stupid, call them vain, call them a horrible, bad person, only few things will hurt them like when you call them fat.
I remember going to a club back in spring, where some old man hit on me. He was getting touchy and I told him to back off. His pride was hurt and instead of just leaving, he felt the need to point out that I was “too fat anyway” because he knew it would hurt me. Of course it hurt especially bad because of my history, but even a girl who doesn’t struggle with an ED would have been hurt by that. Looking back, it makes absolutely no sense. He hit on me, touched me inappropriately, and I had been chubby when he did this, not skinnier than when he told me I was “too fat”. But people, especially men, just know that this hurts. And despite my self love journey and the body positivity I live in, to that day, I still get hurt by that word. Even though fat is by far not an insult. You cannot let anyone use your looks, your appearance against you. Nobody has the right to turn the way you look into an insult. Don’t give anyone the power to do that to you. I’m pretty sure that in time, I will be able to overcome this and finally learn that it’s really nothing but a soft tissue our bodies store excessive energy in as well as the description of a soft, squishy body type that is in no way less attractive, less valuable and less beautiful than another body type.
Our skinny-normative society treats fat people like an unwanted exception whereas statistics prove that the majority of people is what the BMI ( which is shit anyway ) considers “overweight”. None of it makes sense, you see, but it’s still a fucking issue.
Fat people are being pointed at. Side-eyed. Fat people in public are an asshole’s version of a Freak Show. Fat people are being judged and nobody fucking minds. Because it’s normal to judge them. Because they are oh so different and not the way the majority wants them to be- even if their fat doesn’t affect anyone but themselves! - and because it just isn’t “right” to be fat.
Fat people are being treated like FUCKING SHIT. That is a fact.
No skinny person will ever know what it feels like to be “the fat one” in class. The only chunky girl in your group of friends. The only one that decides to change in the toilets instead of the locker rooms before PE so nobody sees what they’re so scared of and disturbed by. Skinny people don’t know what it feels like when the people around you expect you to fail just because of your body type. When they expect you to be a lazy binge eater, when actually you eat healthily and exercise regularly because GUESS WHAT! Fat people can be fit! Fat people can run fast! Fat people can do yoga! And fat people can eat healthy! Fat people can eat way less than skinny people and still be fat! There are more than just two sides to the “fat coin”. But none of them are anybody elses business.
Of course my illness played a big part when I considered suicide during my obese time, but looking back I know that if people around me would have treated me better, I wouldn’t have felt like they wouldn’t miss me anyway if I ended my life.
The only positive comment on my body I ever got during my time of being very overweight was the response to me saying “I’m so fat.” Instead of telling me “Yes, but you’re beautiful and loved”, or “Yes, but that doesn’t matter.” or “Yes, but that doesn’t make you any less valuable or wonderful”,- people replied with “What? No, you’re not. You’re not fat.” Oh hell, I was! I was fat! But instead of admitting that and proving me that it wasn’t equal to being ugly, or equal to being unwanted, people lied to me and said “Don’t be silly, you’re curvy, if anything.” Because they felt like telling me I was fat would hurt me. They felt like they needed to twist the truth because we all live in a society where “fat” is associated with diabetes, ugliness, laziness, nastiness, whereas “skinny” is associated with model, sporty, lean, pretty. That’s a matter of facts. And it’s fucking disgusting.
In school, a group of three boys bullied me on a daily basis. Knowing I’d hear them, they sat on their table in the cafeteria and talked about me. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and writing out the things they said still hurts me because when I heard it back then, I could literally feel something inside me breaking, I felt something inside of me dying. They said things like: “She probably looks so disgusting naked”- “Ew why do you think of her naked”- “I don’t know but she probably has cellulite all over and saggy tits”- “No one’s ever gonna fuck her” - “OH GOD DON’T MAKE ME THINK OF SEX WITH THAT PIG!”. Things like “If I looked like that, I would kill myself. I would do society and everyone around me a favour and just kill myself” - “Do you think she’d even fit in a regular coffin?” They would throw food at my feet, go “Oink, oink, eat pig, eat!” And film it with their mobiles. They would spit food at me. It’s fucking hard to write this because I never really told anyone about the extent of what these boys did.
And after going through hell at school every day, I would go home. Turned on my computer and saw skinny girls on the internet. Idolized, adored, loved by many. I didn’t see fat girls and if so, mainly on fetish blogs. Back then, body positivity wasn’t as much of a thing as it luckily is now on tumblr. You have no idea how thankful I am for the positive, beautiful, wonderful people I have met online, all these blogs filled with pictures of beautiful women of every size, beautiful skinny girls, beautiful fat girls, girls of all races, wonderful, happy, confident girls. If I had known that this community exists back then, I would have felt much better. But I didn’t back then. I turned on my TV to watch Topmodel, where the girls were skinny, where they wore the prettiest clothes and I knew that shops didn’t fucking sell this stuff in my size. I read magazines, regular magazines, and not once saw a girl with my body. I was not represented. I went shopping and didn’t fit in anything. Even the Plus Size clothes at H&M for example, which start at a German Size 42, which is, by all means, not big, were really tight. And if I found anything in Plus Size shops, most of the stuff was so different from what skinny girls wore that it only added to the conception of being “different” when being fat.
You know how they tell fat people to wear “wide stuff” to cover up their bodies. How they sell big ass blouses with ugly floral prints or print shirts that say shit like “Big Mama” instead of the cute sexy stuff skinny girls get to wear.
I saw my body type in no fucking magazine, no fucking TV show except these shows were fat people get money to lose weight, and in no fucking film. Fat film characters only worked because they were fat and that was the joke. Skinny people everywhere. No fat people.
But I was the “the fat one”. I could have gone to school in a Michael Jackson costume, with pink hair and a tail attached to my ass, I still would have been “the fat one” and “the fat one” only.
There were days on which I felt like an entirely different species than the people around me. All because skinny-normativity is a real fucking thing. I was considered abnormal. I was being side-eyed all of the time. Strangers called me names.
And yes, sometimes, some people said: “I’m worried for your health, darling. You need to lose weight.” But they didn’t fucking know that weight is not an index for your fucking health. That just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re lazy. And even if you are, goddamn, even if you’re the laziest fucking person in the world, it is still just YOUR business and none of theirs. But these comments were rather rare. Most of the time, people would just be rude. They would just call me names, thinking that their skinny bodies made them superior to me.
And I believed them. Which was, by far, the worst part. I believed that my fat and my stretch marks, my cellulite, my proportions, not being able to wear the clothes skinny girls got to wear simply because they didn’t sell the nice stuff in big sizes, thinking that no big girl would want to wear them anyway, because WHO WANTS TO SEE THAT!!! - , all of this made me less valuable, less wonderful, less worth of living than them. But that was and is so, so wrong.
The thing with skinny shaming is that from my experience, it is mostly a way of defense. I think the majority of people who skinny shame are heavier people who are fed up with being oppressed and fight back by trying to prove that they can be sexy, that they can be pretty, that they can be strong and superior, too.
But why do we try to prove that a certain body type is “better” than the other in first place? We don’t have to put another person’s looks down to make ourselves look better. Beauty is not a competition. Because beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, skin colours.
All in one, there is, like you just read, no denying skinny shaming exists. But so does skinny-normativity. Skinny people are represented everywhere. Skinny people are, even if statistics prove otherwise, in some way, the majority. And the oppression of majorities is a contradiction in terms and does not exist. I know skinny shaming hurts and I don’t wish it on anyone. But from my experience, and I fucking know that I’m not alone, the society we live in is the ultimate proof, it is no way comparable to fat shaming. Skinny shaming made me angry. Fat shaming made me want to die.
Of course you all got the right to complain. Every skinny girl in the world is allowed to complain about the shit she’s going through when people call her “anorexic” and she isn’t, or even if she is. Of fucking course she can complain. And I can’t stop any skinny girl from complaining about Nicki Minaj singing “Fuck you if you skinny!” ( even though Nicki is faaar from fat herself ). I’m just saying that society’s reaction to that will be: “Oh god, that’s not okay, yes. Why would they say that? I’m sorry they hurt you, I don’t understand.” Whereas society’s reaction to a fat girl complaining about not being represented will be: “Well, you could lose weight, you know? Try excercising.”
Summing it up in a clear statement: Skinny shaming is a magazine with some tips on how to gain a bit weight to look “healthier” only few people read and fat shaming is a twenty parts book series full of insults.
It is NEVER okay to force your ideas of pretty on someone else. If there is one thing we should be able to “force” on others, it is body positivity. The simple notion that all of us are beautiful, unique, valuable and simply amazing. Because that’s the fucking truth. All of our bodies decompose to a skeleton once we die and the amount of fat your carried around it and whether or whether not parts of the skeleton had been visible in your lifetime should not determine how people treat you and how you feel about yourself. This little essay right here pointed out so many hurtful things fat people have to go through and I need you to know that this is absolutely fucking wrong and you do not deserve this. What people say and make you feel when they insult you for the way you look is not right. All of us are worthy of self love as well as love from others. All of us deserve to feel pretty.
If we teach others how they can love themselves, if we live in positivity and peace with our bodies, we can make a change in our, then their life. Negative people who put you down because of the way you look are very likely to hate the way they look, too. Ever since I learned how to love myself, I haven’t had a single bad thought about somebody elses looks. Body positivity and acceptance of every body type is an amazing thing I can only fucking suggest. It makes your life so much better.
I think that we are making progress with it already. I see a lot of shops that sell the exact same clothes in small and large sizes, which is amazing. Everyone should have the ability to wear what they like. Fat bellies look just as pretty as skinny bellies in crop tops! Skinny thighs look just as sexy as thick thighs in tight jeans! I hope that we will overcome the silly notion that fat people have to “hide their bodies”, which was something I dealt with a lot back then, too, because in a wide top or a skin tight top, fat is fat and fat is not bad. I hope that soon there will be more beautiful women of larger sizes representing bigger bodies in the media but even since I have been in the need of these, which was about five years ago, there has been a change and there’s more of these great ladies in the public eye now. I hope that we can overcome skinny-normativity and convert to body-positive-normativity and acceptance-normativity instead, providing acceptance and positivity for every body type there is. Skinny is not better than fat and fat is not better than skinny. None of these body types, or every other body type there is ( fit, lean, slim, curvy, thick, chubby, chunky, sporty, etc. ) is more normal than the other.
Nobody has to hide.
Nobody deserves to be called bad names.
Nobody should be excluded.
Nobody fucking deserves to go through the shit I and many others, skinny or fat, went through.
We all deserve to love ourselves and to be accepted.
Our bodies do not affect our surroundings and we were not born to visually please others. Nobody should feel ashamed of how they look. Let’s fucking fight the term “shaming” connected to any bod type in general. There is nothing shameful about having a body, no matter its size.
Let’s get this through everyone’s head, yeah?