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Articles > Current Affairs February, 23, 2015

Skinny shaming: the wrong way to empower curvy women

Louisa Johnson
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With the ever-expanding use of social media, teens are exposed to many memes, gifs and photos which could often be used to promote derogatory messages. I recently noticed a reoccurring trend on the internet; the increasing attack on young girls’ bodies. Particularly, the skinnier girls…

Photo by Todd Huffman

Photo by Todd Huffman

There seems to be growing resentment towards girls of smaller body types, with more people ‘retweeting’ or ‘reblogging’ images designed to dis-empower petite women. To demonstrate, I’m sure many of us have come across pictures of prominent public figures, such as Marilyn Monroe, with the caption “REAL girls have curves!”. Have you ever thought about what this message implies? Are ‘curveless’ women fictional, should they be discounted? By saying they are ‘nothing but skin and bones’ do you mean to say they are withering away, invisible or unhealthy?

What perplexes me most about these comments is that they are often supported by people who feel insecure about their own body, or who have felt humiliated about their weight in the past. Maybe they believe that they have not been accurately represented in the media, so this implies that they cannot be beautiful. All everybody desires is the acceptance of their body type.

This is why I cannot understand why someone who has possibly been discriminated against in the past for the way they look, would do the same to others. What is the difference between telling one girl to ‘stop eating’ and telling another to ‘eat something’? Why is it offensive to make judgments about larger girls’ health by calling them ’emotional-eaters’, but the presumption that all models must be ‘anorexic’ is condoned? Why are girls allowed to love their ‘curves’, while others are not allowed to love their ‘bones’? Is it really true that you need to have something ‘for men to grab on to’ to be perceived as sexy? Why can Nicki Minaj proudly proclaim “F**k skinny bitches” in her song ‘Anaconda’, with there being few repercussions?

The way I see it, discrimination is discrimination, no matter who it is against.

On the other hand, and perhaps even more disturbing, some people pass comment out of admiration, with complete ignorance to their potentially harmful connotations. For example, some compliment the ‘anorexic look’ of a slim woman! Is this really what it has come to? Has the deliberate exclusion of various body types by the media led young girls to romanticise the effects of eating disorders and even intending them to be complimentary?

I have also found that skinny girls are rarely allowed to express issues with their body image. Concerns and insecurities are brushed aside on the basis that ‘at least you are thin’, whereas girls of larger body types can drum up more sympathy, often using their prejudice of smaller women to do so.

I would like to emphasise that I am in no way accusing every one of participating in ‘skinny shaming’ or trying to brush ‘fat shaming’ aside on the basis that it is no longer in existence. Quite the contrary – I know many girls are still bullied for their weight and I know that ‘skinny shaming’ only exists because ‘fat shaming’ is so severe. I am merely pointing out that instead of attacking the other side to ease our own insecurities, we should be striving to end the shaming of all body types.

So please don’t think that shaming one end of the spectrum is a viable way to comfort the other – remember that in order to be accepted we must all demonstrate acceptance.

Promote body positivity for every body.

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