Skinny Shaming: It's Real and It Needs to Stop

I am a skinny woman. At the ripe age of 20, I stand just five feet tall and weigh about 100 pounds soaking wet. The largest size jeans I own is a one, I wear kid-sized shoes, and my body loses any type of shape the second I put a medium-sized hoodie on. My BMI (Body Mass Index) percentage would likely tell you I’m below average compared to other women my age. I am a skinny woman, but then again, I always have been.

Being thin as a child and young adolescent, I was often subjected to a wide arrange of comments from my own parents to complete strangers. While most of the comments were usually meant to be compliments, as puberty struck, I found myself in many very uncomfortable situations. From unwanted sexual advances to being questioned about my eating habits, I have always been victim to other people concerning themselves with my size. In saying this, I’ve also always been what society viewed as an ideal size for women, meaning I did not have many internal struggles in regard to my weight growing up.

However, sometime around the middle of my high school years, everything changed. As plus-size women pushed for more media representation and rallied support to push for inclusivity in advertising and brands, suddenly, being thin was not a trait people endorsed. Many celebrities began making music about being curvy and loving your own curves, while at the same time, many influential brands, such as Dove and Aerie, started adjusting their models to fit this new fad. Needless to say, my world was shaken. While I still wholeheartedly support women regardless of their size and understand their fight for inclusivity, it soon became apparent that “skinny-shaming” was becoming the new “fat-shaming”.

In 2014, when Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” came out, as just an eleventh grader, I was already beginning to feel skinny-shaming in full force. As the song gained popularity, I remember not understanding why Trainor boasted a clear message about empowering women, while also insulting an entire population of us at the same time. This may seem like a melodramatic statement but in the lyrics, she refers to thin women as “skinny bitches” whilst also alluding that we are “stick-figured silicone barbie dolls” that men don’t want. Additionally, in the music video, there is a thinner woman who is wrapped in plastic as she is portrayed as the fake, less attractive option in comparison to Trainor’s curvier backup dancers. Trainor is also seen demeaningly throwing a barbie doll on the floor in conjunction with the idea that if that is the body type men are interested in, then they can “go ahead and move along.” As an adolescent girl surrounded by female friends of many different sizes, this song sparked a feud-filled debate within our group; some believers of skinny-shaming, and others not. The topic of skinny-shaming is undoubtedly still touchy as even now, no one wants to body shame or insult anyone at all.

Which brings forth the main issue at hand. How do we support and empower certain women without accidentally shaming others?

When researching the issues surrounding skinny-shaming in the media, many point to this change primarily occurring in 2014/2015 which is unsurprising as in addition to Trainer’s not-so empowering “All About That Bass”, Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” was also released just a few months later. This was yet another example of how the media promoted the idea that being thin is shameful. Like Trainer, Minaj also refers to thin women as “skinny bitches” and uses other strong-language that suggests skinny women should not be allowed in clubs. As the list of songs specifically directed towards curvy or “thick” women continues to grow, even the chorus of the Buzzfeed song entitled “The Butt Anthem For Girls Without Big Booties” which shows a thin girl attempting to recreate both Trainer and Minaj’s videos, sends the message that small butt girls have nothing to offer (using the term ‘offer’ in regard to women’s body parts is a whole other argument but anyways…). While I don’t have the experience of ever being fat-shamed (nor was it my attempt to belittle the experiences of others), I stand by my other small statured women in saying that skinny-shaming is entirely real, and it needs to stop.

Since the whole issue surrounding body-shaming is especially relevant in this day and age, I often think back to the young woman I was becoming in grade eleven and wonder how the next generation of young adults are feeling about their body image. Despite society and the media more recently promoting the importance of self-love, have we already accidentally diminished the self-esteem of the girls like me who grew up naturally skinny? My only hope moving forward is simply that we as a society can become more aware of the unique qualities that all women possess and with that awareness, appreciate and celebrate all body types without minimizing the importance of others.

I may be a size 00, and I may have the least curvaceous backside ever, but that does not mean that I am unintelligent, ugly or unlovable. Whether you’re plus-size, petite or anywhere in between一body shaming is old news. It’s 2018, the year of women supporting women. So right here, right now, let's decide to stop tearing each other down and instead do our best to promote actual inclusivity. A group of women standing beside a different group of women is not a competition—it’s a goddamn army.

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