You don’t have to scroll down too far on your Instagram feed to see a picture of a beautiful girl. Maybe she’s with her friends, maybe her family, maybe she’s posing candidly with her dog or beaming solo with a wine glass in hand. You also don’t have to scroll down too far to see her friends’ comments. They’ll usually range from the typical “omg so pretty,” to the “um can I literally be you?”, to the sarcastic “this isn’t even cute,” and even the “mushy” kind (especially if it’s with her dog).
And then, every once in a blue moon, you’ll see the classic, “omg so skinny.”
Maybe you are this girl in the photo beaming with a glass of Pinot. Maybe you’re showing off your puppy or cheesing with your little sister. Maybe you know this girl. Maybe you’ve been the one to write the “omg so skinny” comment. And why would you even think twice about it? Skinny is supposed to be a compliment. It means she looks good! Right?
I’m not here to say that skinny girls aren’t beautiful, or that anyone with a skinny body should be ashamed of who they are. This piece is in no way aimed to shame girls for the body types they have. It is, however, going to explain that this “omg so skinny,” comment is problematic. It is looked at as a compliment only because the word “fat” is looked at as an insult. You would never, ever, comment “omg so fat” on your friend’s photo. Not even on your worst enemy’s photo. And who could blame us? Who could blame us for living in a society where our entire economy revolves around men and women alike feeling the need to change themselves? If you haven’t looked in the mirror and thought “omg so fat,” you’ve heard your friend say it. Or you’ve indulged in a dinner and immediately felt bad for filling your body with delicious food. Because that’s what you grew up watching and learning. As our mothers carefully portioned their dinners in front of us, as our friends viewed accidentally skipping a meal as a “win.” We’ve learned that being fat is the worst thing you could be.
Our generation, as well, seems to be reluctant to end this stigma. The other day while scrolling through Twitter, I saw a screenshot of a girl who posted a photo of herself in a bathing suit. This girl was not skinny. She received many loving comments on her photo, but the account that tweeted the screenshot shamed her for being “unhealthy” and added that we shouldn’t be “glorifying obesity.” The two problems with this claim are 1.) health doesn’t have a specific body type, and 2.) people deserve to feel confident regardless of what they look like. I know that most people make these health-based comments with “genuine concern,” but you cannot tell someone’s health status solely from a bathing suit photo. Maybe she’s trying to lose weight. Maybe she’s not. Maybe she loves herself just the way she is. Doesn’t she deserve that at the very least? To love herself regardless of what others deem acceptable? Making a comment on someone’s health is just a disguise for saying “I don’t like seeing a fat girl in a bathing suit.” Because I guarantee, the skinny girl who eats McDonald’s every day isn’t getting sh*t about it.
I have struggled with body image issues, and I know that the girl beaming with her wine glass and Instagramming with her friends does also. In no way am I saying that being skinny is something to be ashamed of. I want girls of all body types to feel good about themselves. This starts, though, with removing the stigma from certain body types and the comments we make about them. Stop telling yourself you “feel fat” when you really just don’t like the way the outfit looks on you. Stop commenting “omg so skinny” when your friend looks pretty in a photo. Find other adjectives. Because I promise you, there’s a hell of a lot worse things you could be than fat.