Things I’ve Heard About Thin Women

I recently wrote a blog called 386,170 unhelpful things about the messages that I get from the world about my body.  While I was researching it, some of the messages I heard were:

"Fat isn't sexy, it's a fact."
"Men just don't want obese women"
"Everybody knows you can't be healthy and obese"

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy getting those messages from society,  it’s frustrating and it hurts my feelings.

Today while perusing some “size positive” blogs I found the following comments:

"Stick women just aren't sexy, it's just gross".
"What man would want a twig anyway?"
"It's just impossible to be healthy when you are that thin,
you have to be anorexic or a drug addict to look like that"
"Real women are curvy and LOOK like women"

I absolutely understand why people in the size positive community say things like this.  It’s rare to see people on television and in commercials who look like us and that can be frustrating.  We’re getting hundreds of thousands of negative messages about our bodies every year and we are tired, angry, and hurt.  People with no health credentials feel completely justified in making assumptions about our health.  Doctors make the same mistaken assumptions.  It’s easy to transfer our  frustration onto the people who represent “the other side”.  Sometimes you’ve just taken all you can stand and you feel like you have to lash out. I get it – I really do, I’ve been there.  That being said:

I wish we would knock it off.

Seriously.

If we want people to treat us with respect when it comes to our bodies,  we should probably take a pass on bashing other people about their bodies.

If we want people to take a good, hard look at their size prejudices, we should take a good, hard look at our own.

Health at Every Size means health at EVERY size.  If we purport that some people are naturally larger, then it follows that some people are naturally smaller.   It astounds me that someone who screams “IT’S NOT FAIR” when they are judged as unhealthy because of their size would turn around and do the same thing to someone else.

I want a world of body positivity.  A world where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, where everyone knows that they are beautiful, and receives acknowledgment of that from society.   Nobody should be treated the way that fat people are currently being treated in our culture. Nobody.  So I want change, but not if it means treating  thin people like fat people are treated now – that’s too high a price to pay.

I believe that if you say that you want a size positive world, you have to mean size positive for everyone.  That means not making judgments about others based on their size;  sticking up for the model being called anorexic with the same fervor you would use to defend a fat women being called lazy; respecting other people’s decisions when it comes to their bodies – even when you don’t agree with them.

That’s what it means to be the change you want to see in the world.

Trying to hurt someone else in the same way that you’ve been hurt never works. You can’t improve your self-esteem by diminishing someone else’s.   In the end you won’t feel better and now there are two people in pain.

If you want to lash out do something really radical, something that really takes courage:  respect every body like it was your own.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 7:44 pm  Comments (20)  

20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Having grown up “skinny”. I relate- I hated hearing how skinny I was. I ate like a horse but maybe was “too active” Soccer, Judo, on the bike constantly. So much so that even as a 30 year old adult I was eating badly and drinking extra Ensure to put on some wait. People had the nerve to ask me if I was “sick”. I said- no just skinny.

    I think that is part of the mental image I have now. I am no longer 150 pounds- which really was not healthy, I have a little bit of a belly but I am much more healthy and happy with my meat on my bones.

    And just an fyi- I always liked my partners with a bit of “meat on their bones”. Fat can be sexy, skinny can be sexy, and everything in between- we all have a preference for what we like in our partners- there is someone for everyone at any size.

  2. “I believe that if you say that you want a size positive world, you have to mean size positive for everyone. That means not making judgments about others based on their size; sticking up for the model being called anorexic with the same fervor you would use to defend a fat women being called lazy; respecting other people’s decisions when it comes to their bodies – even when you don’t agree with them.”

    This. THIS.

  3. It’s weird I find it a lot harder to avoid body snarking on others than to avoid criticizing my own body. I guess the aftermath of years of eating disorders is still taking its toll, because though I can look at my sister and honestly feel 100% that she is beautiful, when I tell myself I’m beautiful it feels very forced and fake.

    Might just be to do with my history, but for myself I find it easier to focus on how my body *feels*; I feel great when I’m running (Well, when I’m not coughing up a lung), I feel great when I’m swimming and I feel great when I’m eating a steaming plate of pici cacio e pepe. If you take the time to really feel it, the feeling of your body working for you, the muscles contracting and extending, the texture of food on your tongue – these sensations are so powerful and really quite incredible.

    • I think that a lot of people have that same experience (finding it easier to like other people’s bodies than their own). I love what you said about focusing on how your body feels, and I think that you are exactly right. ( Also, I had to Google pici cacio e pepe and now I want to try it!). Thanks for commenting.
      ~Ragen

  4. Thanks for sticking up for us skinny folks, gal! I had a hard time in college trying to gain weight. I don’t remember being criticized for it, but I just thought the girls with a more medium frame looked better than me. Nowadays I hear more criticism of models and actresses for being “too thin”. But some of us in this world are born thin and stay that way without any help, no matter what we eat or how much or little we exercise. So yes, “body positive” means accept your body as it is, no matter how you compare to other people!

    • Anytime Mary Dee! You’re right about the comparison thing – it seems like comparing your body to someone else’s is just a totally pointless exercise to begin with.
      ~Ragen

  5. Just followed the link trail from Jezebel and wanted to say…you hit the nail on the head. Wonderful insight, and even better perspective. Health and beauty are so very subjective, how dare any one of us think we know who is healthy or attractive.

    • I’m glad that you liked the blog, and thanks for mentioning subjectivity. I think people can get caught up with the (basically arbitrary) cultural standards of beauty. You reminded me that “how dare you” is one of my favorite phrases – I think I’ll blog about that (don’t worry, I’ll give you credit!)

  6. Saw this via Jezebel, but had to comment. I grew up really thin – both my parents were thin… I was just a naturally skinny ass girl. I unfortunately was about 12 years old when all the Kate Moss backlash started, and I have to say it was so damaging to me – took me years to really learn how to be confident because of all the things people said to me and what I heard in the media. I didn’t feel feminine, didn’t think I could ever be considered sexy cause I didn’t have curves…on and on. I totally agree with you – let’s just be positive about everyone’s bodies!!

    • Thank you for saying this, I never thought about how it must have been when the whole Kate Moss backlash hit. I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that and I’m glad that you are in a better place now :)
      ~Ragen

  7. Ah, if only everyone would read this. I used to feel a connection with the overweight kids because I’ve always been severely underweight, but that connection was pretty much annihilated by the media and high school. I think everyone thinks it’s acceptable to rag on a skinny girl because she’s automatically supposed to be super attractive. But if you’re just average looking like I am, it’s not like you’re getting anymore dates than they are. Now on the off chance that I do go on a date, I have to wonder if the guy’s a freaking pedophile, thanks to all the times I’ve been told that I look like a 12-year-old. It’s pretty difficult to feel comfortable with yourself when people joke that you’re a negative size or ridicule the idea of lingerie companies manufacturing a AA cup.

    I’ll also never understand overweight people who criticize other overweight people. I hate the phrase “curves in all the right places” because it automatically suggests that there are “wrong” places. The “curvy” movement seems to just ignore those not-so-well-endowed but still heavy girls.

    • I’m sorry that happened to you, and you are so right about the idea of “curves in all the right places’, I absolutely know large women with small breasts who despise that idea, and with good reason. It seems like we could get to a place where people could feel good about themselves without putting other people down, how awesome would that be :) Thanks for commenting!
      ~Ragen

  8. Came over via the Jezebel link. Excellent post – thank you!

    Speaking as someone who’s been on the thin side most of her life, one of the things I find interesting is the way people look at a person’s body type and assume that means they know what that person thinks and feels. (I realize that for many people this manifests as people assuming a fat person is lazy/gluttonous/insert-standard-fat-hating-insult-here.) As a thin person, what I encounter is more often fat-haters assuming that a thin person is also a fat-hater, and sometimes fat people assuming that a thin person is a fat-hater.

    As someone who grew up with a fat mother, and who grew up reading “Stories for Free Children” in the back of Ms. magazine, and then Mom’s subscription to Radiance magazine when it started publishing, I find this very frustrating. As I understand genetics, it’s basically random chance that I ended up taking after my father’s side of the family, where as people age they wind up looking like they’re made of rubber bands and tongue depressors, instead of after my mother’s side of the family, who were rounded and curvy.

    I’m coming to feel that one of the most radical acts a person can undertake is to opt out of judging other people’s bodies, at all. Not just “stop hating on fat people”, as important as that message is. Not just “don’t be mean to thin people”, although that’s important too. But “stop judging people, because you don’t know their history or experience”, because that’s the most fundamental.

    • “I’m coming to feel that one of the most radical acts a person can undertake is to opt out of judging other people’s bodies, at all.” Absolutely brilliant, thank you so much!
      ~Ragen

  9. As someone who works for size acceptance, I often have to defend myself for being thin,as if our culture’s obsession with size doesn’t affect us all, fat, thin and in-between! I come from a family of lean & lanky on one side, full and curvy on the other, so the flat chested among us envied the big busts, and the curvy hips envied the boyish hips, and none of us were happy with our wonderful, and wonderfully varied bodies…I choose to illustrate larger women because our culture is flooded with images of super thin women, but a truly enlightened world accepts the variety of human form as a miracle, and not an unhealthy problem that needs to be “fixed”

  10. Yes. THIS!

    I can really be articulate at times, but I read your posts and all I can say is…YEAH! What she said!

    Oh, well. Thanks for putting so eloquently, fairly, and rationally what swirls around in my head all day.

  11. You will find this with any movement — the pendulum swing into intolerance on the other side. Look at the anti-male, anti-housewife sentiments in the Women’s movement; the anti-white, anti-light skin/good hair sentiments in the Black power movement; the anti-straight/anti-bi/anti-closeted sentiments in the gay movement, and on and on.

    It’s understandable and, in some ways, necessary for the movement to progress. People finding their anger and reacting, even if it’s misdirected.

    It’s not pretty and it’s not nice, and there will always be those who maintain that intolerant position, but it will get better as things improve and people become more secure within themselves and recognize that pro-this does not have to mean anti-that.

  12. Hi, i’m a 4 ft 9 and slender Businesswoman. I’m been constantly been told i’m tiny its like people are trying to show they are the alpha human and because of my physique i’m beneath them. I recently wore in a red two piece suit and was told it would look better on a curvier woman. Once a relative was hosting a dinner party and told me i wasn’t been asked i wouldn’t be able for the portions. Another time i was told it must be terrible to be so small and weak. People seem to think that its exceptable to refer to you as boney, puney or skinny bitch to your face, yet i’d never comment on anyone elses. In fact one day a lady was talking to me so much about my physique i said to her to stop it wasn’t nice and i wouldn’t say remarks to her. She just went if i was as tiny as you i wouldn’t either coz they’d beat me up

  13. Body size doesn’t matter as long as you are healthy! I think the scaremongering from the society,doctors, medias makes plus size esp. women very vulnerable, mentally and physically.The only way you can have self esteem is to think positive about yourself not what people think about you.

  14. I went through a period of worry about my weight being too low after discovering the size positive community, because I seriously am very thin, and I was worried that people would be disgusted about it. I don’t really worry about that now, but it was something I went through. I really hated it when people poked fun or made jokes. This friend I had called me chicken bones and when I pointed out that I could call him rooster bones he got mad at me for calling him fat. What. But somehow being thin means that I can’t have periods of dislike for my body, and therefore in their eyes I don’t even have a reason to dislike their jokes. Being a model has been suggested to me. I said that I would never do that, it would set unrealistic expectations for little girls. The “chicken bones” guy turned out to be a proto-abusive sexual harasser who completely ignored my boundaries even when I gave him a second chance. I said I didn’t want to speak with him in person nor be even friends for a while, but he pushed, so I stopped talking to him or texting him. Anybody who pokes fun at your body and won’t understand your discomfort is either society-biased or abusive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: