Wrong Thing Opposite Direction

If you’re an avid reader of the blog you may have seen me post about this before.  But people keep doing it so I’m gonna keep talking about it.

You know how we hate it when people say that fat bodies are unattractive/not as attractive as thin bodies, or that people can tell what we eat, how much we exercise and how healthy we are based on our body size, or that all fat people are diseased, etc.?

How about we don’t do that EXACT.  SAME.  THING.  to thin people.  How about we never say again “she needs to eat a sandwich” or “real women have curves” or “you can’t be healthy when you’re that thin”.

This is not cool.  I’ve heard, and I reject, the argument that because thin people have thin privilege we can just bash them all we want.  This isn’t the Oppression Olympics – it’s not about who gets oppressed worse, it’s about nobody getting oppressed at all. And let’s remember that although they undoubtedly benefit from thin privilege, that doesn’t mean that every thin person goes looking for it.  Much of privilege is conferred and trying to tear somebody else down rarely makes our situation better.

I’m always sad when I see fat people posting cartoons on Facebook or Twitter that shame thin bodies, happily commenting “Bigger is better!” or whatever.  I think that because fat women are so beaten down, told so often that our bodies are less than, that we are just so excited when someone suggests that “bigger is better” we don’t always think it all the way through.  In truth I think bigger isn’t better or worse, it’s just different.  I think being for Size Acceptance means accepting all sizes. I think it’s best to avoid being a hypocrite of epic proportions.   I don’t believe that I can call my self a Size Acceptance advocate unless I fight as ferociously for society to recognize the beauty of flat chested women with thin boyish bodies as I do for women who look like me and everyone else.  To me Size Acceptance is about realizing that every body is beautiful, not trying to convince people that my body is better than someone else’s.

Nobody should have to live in the environment of hate and judgment in which fat people currently reside.  And that includes thin people.  Doing the wrong thing in the opposite direction is not the same as doing the right thing.

Again, I understand why people do this,  I know how fat people get treated in this society and how it hurts. But that doesn’t make it right and I hope you’ll consider 1.  Choosing to just stop body snarking altogether and 2.  Gently pointing it out when you see it.  Body stigma hurts everyone and stigma just breeds more stigma.  Why don’t we be the ones to stop it.

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 10:28 am  Comments (71)  

71 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I know it’s not popular to a lot of your readers, but thank you. From having been there, I feel actually that thin oppression can be JUST AS BAD. people don’t take you seriously. People come up to me when i am carrying food shopping or in the supermarket and criticise me to my face on the food I’m buying. I’ve been punched by a woman for having the selfishness to buy groceries that she was sure that because of my weight, I would throw in the bin rather than eating, when there are so many people in the world starving. I’ve been sneered at for speaking up with a ‘you cannot even take care of yourself, what would you know’ kind of attitude. I’ve been SPAT on on the street, on a high shopping street by respectable women with their kids in tow, because I had made myself such a disgusting creature with my emaciation. I cannot get a diagnosis for anything that goes wrong – bowel problems, stomach ache, the flu, ear infections, pain, anything – because they will always say well if you just ATE you wouldn’t have a problem. I’ve been put in danger by a doctor who said to go home to eat a sandwich when i was in the ER for chest pains, it turned out I had a serious cardiac problem that had he bothered to check out, he would have found.

    I think that people are starting to realise it’s NOT OKAY to be horrible to people just because they are fat, but the other way, thin, they seem to think we are fair game. And it hurts.

    • 1. Spitting is heinous enough, but you got PUNCHED?????? Clearly this person was NOT in her right mind. I’m absolutely gobsmacked that she felt justified in physical contact. I just can’t get around the intensity of anger that woman is carrying around with her. She’s a menace and should have been hauled up for assault.

      2. Your doc needs a malpractice suit laid against him for ignoring your cardiac issues. What an ass. I have had other people whose docs didn’t take them seriously and had one of those myself last summer in the ER when I was having a chest pain-y thing. Bastards, all.

      I’m sorry you had to endure either of those situations.

    • I’m sorry for your horrible experiences Really really sorry.

    • I know that these kinds of things can happen, but it seems that your experiences are extreme. I wish that you never again face anything hurtful because of your size and am very sorry that you have had to endure that crap. I am sending you a lifetime supply of big, fat, and strong hugs. Please keep them handy to draw strength from if you ever again are subjected that. I usually don’t respond with violence, but I’d love to give those nasty souls a swift kick in the rear, all the way to the moon.

    • I want to hug all of you..thank you. I really did think it opened my eyes to what it was like for ANYONE to be body shamed in any way when that happened to me, and it’s not okay.

  2. Ironically, I have been both. I’m fat now, but was chronically thin the first half of my life. Both are “normal” in my family; it’s in my genes.

    I ate a TON when I was a skinny chick. I was TORTURED in high school. Kids were very, very mean to me because of my acute skinny-ness. When I went to college, girls were jealous of me.

    I am not my shape. I was the same person skinny as I am fat (well without the obvious maturing, of course).

    Don’t bash anyone. Bald people, skinny people, very tan or very pale people.

    Belittling is something done by small minded people.

    • “Belittling is something done by small minded people.”
      Dreena~ I’m posting this as my Facebook status! Brilliant. I am also including the link to this blog post. Thank you!

  3. As usual, very well said!

  4. Well…I used to get diet pills thrown at me. My thin friends got packets of cookies. I fail to see which is worse…or better. Honestly, it makes me think NO ONE is ever happy.

    I like what you said months back, and it’s one of my new phrases, especially when I’m teaching: It is NEVER okay to ridicule someone because of how they look. Covers everything.

  5. I can understand that these fat people would be excited by something that depicts them as superior since all they have ever felt was inferior, but as you said, body bashing at all is unacceptable. I call this “skinny bitch hate.” I personally don’t receive as many comments as I did when I was in high school, but I still see youtube comments from people that are very revealing. There was a video by a personal trainer and she was talking about obesity and instead of calmly correcting and disagreeing with her her viewpoint, there was skinny bitch hating, and it just ruined the entire point they were trying to make. I know it must be hard for fat people to see so much fat hate going on, but you can’t fight fat hate with skinny bitching hating.

  6. Back before I had my daughter, I was rather thin. I’m a secret fatty now, insomuch that people think I weigh less than I do; it amuses me.

    Anyways, privilege. Because I was always small, people would try to steal my food (reasoning I wasn’t eating it). Or when I was in the Air Force, someone told my sergeant I was bulimic (I was popping a zit and happened to be holding a toothbrush – horrors *rolls eyes*). I could probably cite example after example, but it boils down to the fact that people of all sizes are damned nasty if it suits them. I’ll never get it – love is a much better thing, yo. So anyways, as a former stick, I thank ye for taking a moment to address that bashing sucks, no matte where on the spectrum you are.
    <3

  7. When I was a skinny wee thing of 20, I used to walk up to an ice cream shop that was half an hour or so away from me, and buy a double chocolate cone. WITHOUT FAIL some man would tell me that if I ate it I would get fat. Actually, I did get fat, but it wasn’t the ice cream that did it.

    One of the things I really love about living in middle Europe, is the approach to ‘natural’ looks, which is the other way that women’s bodies are policed. Magazine covers aren’t airbrushed the way they are elsewhere and in the inevitable social pages, they feature high status women of all ages, none of whom have botoxed faces, and few of whom dye their hair. Steel grey hair (look at finance minister Christine Lagarde of the IMF as an example) is perfectly OK.

    Not surprisingly, the self esteem of women around me seems to be much, much higher than in the English speaking world. When I was in hospital, a nurse who was about 50 (she told me her age) described her body in glowing terms to me, saying she thought she was in great shape for a woman of her age. This was not a toned, botoxed, sleek woman. But what she meant was that she was healthy, her eye sight was good, her back didn’t hurt and she could do a hike every weekend.

    I love it. My own self esteem has improved out of sight. When I was last in the US, I picked up a magazine that had a cover model who was so air brushed, she looked like she was made of plastic. Rather than thinking she was glamorous, I thought she looked grotesque. If that’s the ideal, count me out of the race to achieve it.

  8. Wonderful! Thank you. (I’ve been linking to your site like a maniac, and probably annoying half my Facebook friends to bits, but I know that at least a few of them are reading your posts and feeling as uplifted by them as I am, and that’s a beautiful thing.)

  9. As always, I love your blogpost. Your wisdom is so refreshing. We need to disengage from the war that pits us against each other as women, sapping the trust and will to fight the real problems that plague women generally in society. Thank you.

  10. This, this–so much THIS. I’ve been making this argument for years.

    Unless I’m told otherwise or someone genuinely looks emaciated, I tend to assume skinny people eat a lot, and that fat people eat a moderate amount. This is just based on my own experience, starting fairly early on, and has seemed to hold true with a lot of people I’ve met since.

    • I think your theory is sometimes true. My sister and I were both adopted. We were born 15 months apart and have different sets of birthparents. We were raised eating the same foods, and often played together all day. She looked borderline aneroxic while I was always chubby. I am now downright fat and while she no longer looks borderline aneroxic, I would still define her as thin. We are in our early 50′s. She often did eat more than me even though we may have been doing the same things together all day.

      I could go on about the differences in our eating, etc. but I think you can get the point. I will add only that when I found my birthmother, I found a fat woman. Imagine that!

      • I have a similar story. I and my older brother are both adopted. My mom and dad don’t have any biological children at all. They fed us pretty well– no soda and very few junky snacks in the house, all four of us around the dinner table every night eating scratch-cooked meals, etc. Both of my parents are thin. My older brother is thin. I was thin until I was about 20, then I started getting fatter, and it didn’t stop no matter what changes I tried to make. When I was in my 20′s I went looking for my birth mother. Not only is she fat like me, her body followed EXACTLY the same timline as mine– she was thin until she was in her early 20′s, then she started putting on weight.

        A few years ago, I saw a nutritionist for about a year. I paid out of pocket, because I was in excellent health even though I’m fat, and my insurance only pays for a nutritionist after you’re already sick. I finally quit seeing my nutritionist because she refused to stop telling me the reason my birth mother and I were both fat with almost exactly the same size/shape is that I picked up bad eating habits from her. I kept reminding her that I had not been in the presence of my biological mother from the time I was 6 weeks old until the time I was 24, by which time I was already fat, and therefore I had never observed her eating EVER until I was already fat. The nutritionist persisted with this theory no matter how many times I told her this. I finally got fed up and walked away.

    • I’ve always been very thin and tend to be a grazer — I eat lots of little snacks throughout the day. So people see me sit down to a meal and only eat half of what everyone else eats and assume I’m starving myself — when really I’m just going to be hungry again in an hour and finish my leftovers =-D

      ‘Course I just had my second baby and it looks like I won’t be losing the baby weight as quickly this time as the last… kinda digging my softer self =-D

  11. As a former college hammer thrower, my 1st thought on the chick in the middle was “ooh, she has the perfect hammer thrower build”.

  12. Yes. This.

    I costume, and I have sold Petites clothing. I’ve known lots of people say things like “Well, they’re all bulimic.” No – they’re not. Most are not. I know actors, dancers and models who are thin as rails, and eat carefully and well, enough for their intense activity. (I remember laughing that I had never thought I’d feel sorry for a size 2 – but they *truly* have as much trouble finding clothes as we do!)

    *Both* body types run in my family, so I’ve known this all my life. When my mother was a child, the school was worried that her skinny brother didn’t have enough to eat – but he ate more than she did. (Now, they’d be worrying about her weight – but she ate less than he did…) It’s just a body type, it’s plain heredity.

    • I am convinced that almost NO ONE has an easy time finding clothes. lol I’m fat and have trouble finding clothes and shoes to some degree (ESPECIALLY in South Korea where women’s shoes do not go over a size 9). My husband is thin but short and struggles with finding clothes because he’s almost outside of the average male body type in the US. In South Korea (I mention South Korea because we lived there for about two years), he has a much easier time finding clothes as he’s more in line with the average size of the males there; they tend to be smaller on average in size compared to men in this country. Pants I have to get him at specific stores. I can’t just go to Walmart and buy him a pair of pants because he needs smaller than where a lot of those places start (30×30). He usually needs 29×30. Shoes he struggles with even more because he’s in a fairly unusual size compared to the rest of the population around here, 7 1/2 wide. He actually tends to struggle more in finding shoes than I do. My nephew struggles even more because he’s skinnier than my husband yet taller. He tends to have to buy WOMEN’S pants! Otherwise, he can’t find pants in his size. So seeing all of this, really, I’m convinced that almost everyone struggles with finding clothes because clothes only seem to be made for a specific body type and almost no one has that body type. lol

      • My best friend is a size 18, I’m a size 2 — we always go clothes shopping together so we can commiserate over how hard it is to find clothes at either end of the spectrum (then go to Coldstone for ice cream… ;)

  13. A (male) friend of mine calls what you have described “body fascism.”

    It’s the notion that somebody gets to determine what kind of body is right, or good, or acceptable, and gets to bash people whose bodies don’t fit the body fascist’s idea of what a body should look like.

    How about acknowledging that other people’s bodies are nobody else’s business, period?

  14. this is the example I leave for this particular blog. As you can see BOTH of these women have EXTREMELY different body types. they both dance with the same intensity, attitude and flair. One is Full Figured while the other is quite small, but it shows that BOTH bodies are capable of doing the same movements nut just proficiently but in SYNC with one another to the point they can come close moving past each other and not bump into each other. meaning they know their troupe to the point they just know where the other dancer is without having to look. Just a nice positive example that no one needs to take the sandwich out of the hands of the more full figures dancer and give it t the smaller one. IMO they should both get Chocolate..and more tips rained down on them :)

    • I love the belly dance community. (I don’t belly dance, but I do hoop and they’re similar.) We have a performing company where I live where there are dancers of all sizes. Seeing that company perform a few years ago was the first time that I thought wow you don’t have to be thin to dance on stage and show bare skin. It twisted my perspective a bit as someone that was ashamed of her body because she’d gotten fat.

    • This is SO AWESOME!!!!! Thank you!

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

      • yes I thought you would enjoy this. The one woman who is more curvy’s name is Mejda and I am friends with her VIA FB and I DID have a chance to take classes whit her when she was in town, but sadly it was too close to surgery. BUT this was the performances they did at the venue we often perform is, so i still got to see the show. Awalim (which is the troupe) is AMAZING they do these skirt bustles tht are just stunning, and they ALL dance amazingly playing up each others talents, if this isn’t an example of HAES then I don;t know what is.

    • Actually, the fat chick did MORE movement than the skinny chick because every time there was an opposition movement, she was always the one who took the additional half spin to counter her partner.

      This was absolutely fantastic and amazing. I will be sharing this.

      I have thought of belly dance classes as a fitness tool. The belly dancer at our local Greek restaurant (who teaches) made me get up by myself there a few years ago after she taught us the basics and she said I was a natural. :)

      • Mejda (the larger dancer) has a certain Flair and attitude about her. I ADORE her and the day I get to dance with ehr will be one of those special few.
        Also something a LOT of people don’t know about belly dance is that a woman with a more valuptious figure actually has to move less then one who is smaller. I mean you can see Mejda’s moves from space practically they are good and sharp and controlled while the other you can STILL see she is doing the same move, but she DOES actually have to expel more energy AND accentuate the movement for it to be seen. that is why they level the playing field and wear the bustled skirts (I can;t remember the other dancer’s name, I should probably look that up)

        As for actually Belly dancing, yes it is wonderful and amazing, I have been doing it for almost 13 years now in a variety of styles, I perform I teach I travel and am part of showcases and I couldn’t be happier. Maybe there is another place you can learn belly dance around your town :) it just makes you feel SOOO good. whatever reason ANYONE goes into the dance form, you just feel good. You get to be sexy and sassy and flirty and strong and beautiful, and powerful, and you never EVER have to change a thing about your appearance :)

    • Wonderful. Seeing these two women enjoying themselves so much almost made me cry. They’re both so beautiful!

    • Thanks for shating that awesome video!

    • Ziah and Madja are from Awalim, a professional dance company out of Atlanta. There are other members of their group and they are all different sizes and are all awesome.

      One of the great things about bellydance is that body diversity — not just size but proportions, too — causes the same move to look different from person to person.

      • thank you, The other dancer’s name had escaped me. This was from when they came down to St.Pete Fl for a workshop. If I wasn’t about to go into surgery I would have totally been there. I apologies profusely for not making sure I got the other dancer’s name, I thought I put that they were from Awalim…but I guess I didn’t my bad for posting too early in the morning.

        But yes the ENTIRE troupe is amazing. I especially enjoy the times where they dance to live music, adds that extra flair that is truly stunning.

    • WOOOOOT! American Tribal Style bellydance! *Lovesick Sigh* A good antidote to the comparisons. Here, it ain’t what you swing but the way that you swing it. Size friendly, age friendly…each dancer in an ATS troupe contributes her brand of beauty and the whole is a big mess of gorgeousness, with everyone coming out a queen. I wish the media was enlightened enough to take that approach. We ALL deserve to feel like that, to love each other and ourselves like that. Sort of irrelevant, but I’ve had a dance crush on the larger lady for several years.

      • interesting you say this. I re posted the “Rolls not Trolls” blog to the Professional Dancer Ethics Board to which I am a happy member, and they were not as kitsch to trying to ya know..make weight acceptance as part of their “explanation of Middle Eastern Dance” as I would have thought. In being part of a professional Dancer training course (to which I left after the “image” workshop where I was told I am competing with MTV and the like as well as that because I was full figured I would NOT be hired) I digress. We already have to explain away a LOT of incorrect preconceived notions about middle eastern Dance, and the saddest part is that it;s open to ALL ages sizes body shapes etc EXCEPT if you want to be a professional..then that whole “the customer is always right” thing comes into play. I would have thought a group that already has to explain why it costs x # of $ to hire them could just add that in this dance form, beauty by the cultural standards of ANOTHER culture and even time period are upheld and NOT the american view of thin is the right way to be..or that a belly dancer should be all “I Dream of Genie”
        A Belly Dancer should be merited on her SKILL not her figure. And I thought they would want to try and ya know..make that more known to the people hiring them…but guess I was wrong..

    • Oh this is so beautiful!!! It makes me want to take tribal Bellydance class!!! Most of the females in the Bellydance classes that I took were only in it to dance for their boyfriends/husbands and that is not what the dance is about (and this guy throwing the money on them offended me, but that’s a whole other subject). Because of that I dropped it. I’ve been trying to find a body neutral Bellydance class in the NJ/NY area, but most of them are filled with “skinny/thin” females. And its also kind of intimidating if you are in a room and the majority of the people don’t look like you. Its very hard to try to develop that mindset to just go do what I want to do and ignore others that might say something about my body.

      • Lyssa, that’s wonderful. The same woman who called me a natural teaches locally – Zaina Ali. She’s absolutely wonderful.

      • The owners of the studio I dance out of are FROM NY/NJ area so I can help you find a good place. Actually the gentleman tipping them was VERY polite. When tipping a Belly dancer it is proper to basically rain the money down on them, rather then try and touch them. There are dancers that will allow a person to put it in the side of her dance belt or god forbid her bra strap, and I disagree with that, but either holding your hands together with the money in the middle and ribbing them to make the money fall, or tossing it the way he did is proper. 100% that is how it is done (I believe) in the middle eastern countries.

        I have been to a LOT of the studios in my area, and sometimes I AM the only full figures woman in the room. The thing is, when you START to dance, that all falls away. You are listening to the muscles like the muscles that hold your womb in place, and making it move, these movements and dances are sort of symbolizing child birth (the traditional tribal) so we end up using MANY of the same muscles. I know a LOT of dancers who dance while pregnant and it aides in them giving birth.
        I digress, if you find a nice place where you feel comfortable, you will LOVE it. I promise. I started when I was 15 and I was full figured back then too. It’s just the way my body is. And my teacher was a VERY tiny woman. And she told me this when I was down about myself and not looking like the other gals in class she said ” Lyssa, trust me, you are beautiful, and let me tell you, if you went to Egypt, you would be worth 2 camels, a NICE Persian rug, some exotic spices and silks, and some chickens, know your worth. Just because people HERE don’t see that, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist” and for some reason that made me feel better, and I have never forgotten that. Also she traveled to Egypt and they would NOT take her seriously as a dancer, as this blog talks about the proverbial weight shoe was on the other foot. The could not BELIEVE that such a small woman could be a belly dancer! they wanted to take her home and fatten her up. She had to PROVE herself through dancing. And she was NOT a dieter or anything, she was just a naturally small framed woman. So that is something to consider as well. Just because we don’t see a lot of “thin hate” doesn’t mean that somewhere else in the world, a woman with a smaller frame doesn’t feel the same way we do when we are bashed for being fat.

  15. I admit. I’m incredibly jealous of thin people that can eat anything and not gain weight. My brother is one of these people and I think it is so unfair. I’m guilty of thinking when I see a thin person “You probably don’t eat enough” or worse. (Granted, I would never say it out loud.) I admit that I get gleeful when I see one of those “Bigger is better” images. This is wrong. I know that and will try to do better in the future.

    I know that I do it because I’m jealous. I want to be thin again. I want to be the size that I once was when I exercised 4 hours a day and had the metabolism of a teenager. I don’t like looking in the mirror and seeing the fat woman that I’ve become. I’m the one with the problem and the problem isn’t being fat. It is being unable to accept the fact that size is irrelevant to who people are. This blog is helping me a lot with that and I thank you for writing it.

  16. A-men, woman.

  17. I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past. If I managed to achieve a moment of feeling good about myself, the only way I knew how to talk about it was the “bigger is better” route.

    Not only is this body policing harmful to thin people, but it is also no damn good for fat people. It still buys into the idea of comparative beauty: everyone needs to be ranked relative to everyone else. There’s always someone below you to shame and there’s always someone above you to envy. Flipping the rankings upside-down doesn’t change anything. Everyone is a threat to your sense of self-worth, as though there is only so much to go around.

    Thanks for the reminder that neither self-worth nor ideas of beauty needs to be a zero-sum game. We’ve got to develop and practice the use of language that lets us rejoice in our own beauty and value without crushing anyone else’s.

  18. THANK YOU! My childhood best friend was bullied into an eating disorder because she was so thin. People constantly accusing her of being anorexic created a maelstrom of anxiety leading to her eventual inability to eat if people might see her or even be aware that she was doing so. It took her years and a lot of therapy to get better.

    This is just as much of a problem as fat-shaming, IMO.

  19. I don’t know…I was very thin (size 2ish) from ages 15-18 and I was never picked on. Or maybe I was, but I didn’t notice because I was so used to getting it everyday non-stop as a fat person.

    But I agree that there is no right body type or one that is better than the other.

  20. How about we all get rid of the term “skinny bitch” and all the shaming negativity that implies as well? I’ve seen it used in several comments here and I don’t think it’s any more appropriate than fat shaming.

    Call them skinny, thin, slim, slender – but why do we need to add that “bitch” moniker? It comes off as smug to me. She’s just a thin woman. She might be a bitch, or she might be as sweet as my superskinny cousin who is a sunshiny delight.

    It’s a presumption based, I think, in the old stereotype that very thin women are snarky, humorless, and have a superiority complex (which is really probably an INferiority complex, if you ask me). We need to stop that stereotyping altogether. Not all fat chicks are jolly, and not all skinny chicks are bitchy. We are unique individuals across the board, and I love us all.

    • YES. I think I posted a link to one of Ragen’s posts abut this on Facebook only for a friend to say “skinny bitch” and other things I’ve heard like, “You look like a Holocaust victim” are actually compliments. My friend said she had an overweight friend who heard actual hurtful comments. Because bitch and Holocaust victim are such sunny, happy terms, right? Being told I’m not a real woman and no man would ever want me since only dogs want bones doesn’t hurt at all. Bullshit. Body shaming is body shaming, period.

      I once had a boss who would make a comment about my body (I’m 5’1 and a size zero/two depending on the clothing company) every.single.day. “You shouldn’t wear boots with those little stick legs. They make me sad.” “There’s no way you’re healthy at that weight. Why don’t you eat more?” She once confronted a coworker in front of our entire department because she had lost weight due to stress. “Are you sure you’re okay? I mean, you’re so skinny that you’re starting to look like K! Are you turning into one of those girls like her who just doesn’t eat?” Boss insisted on giving me half of her lunch because she said it was obvious that I’m not eating enough even though she didn’t actually observe my perfectly healthy (other than the occasional chicken fried steak – YUMMY!) diet. She once threatened to call my mom to see if she knew about my so-called weight problem. My mom is Japanese – she’s 4’8 and wears a little girls’ size 14. She never curses but she told me to let my boss call so she could tell her to “fuck off and mind your own business, bitch.” (Boss didn’t call.) I dreaded going to work and defending my genetics every single day. My boss hid it behind, “Oh, I just say those things because I’m jealous!” and laughed it off. She thought it was funny. I have a feeling she wouldn’t have laughed if I made comments about her body.

      • That kind of hostile work environment would have necessitated a “come to Jesus” meeting in which I would have let her know that it it continued it would be followed by a “cease and desist” letter from my attorney and a possible lawsuit. Ridiculous. I hope you let HR know about this before you left.

      • That’s awful. I agree that that’s not treatment you should have to put up with at work and that the “bones are for the dog” comments are crappy and stupid. Not to mention objectifying. I love your mom’s reaction, though. Good for her. And “I’m jealous” isn’t an excuse for being a jerk.

      • The funny thing was my now-former boss had been sent to sensitivity training two years before I started working there! She was close friends with our HR representative so it was pointless to complain. Those two lived for snarking on my body and talking about our auditor, a very petite vegetarian who ran marathons. Anyone who runs 26.2 miles regularly is obviously unhealthy. I did talk to her about other issues with the boss and she said, “I know she’s intimidating and blunt, but she really likes you!” More like she liked that for someone who didn’t eat, I never called in sick and I did my job damn well. Leaving that office for the last time was one of the happiest days of my life. I do run into old boss sometimes and she still says helpful things like, “Oh, good, you FINALLY gained some weight. Now you actually look healthy.” My weight hasn’t changed since I worked for her. I think I look healthy because I’m not dealing with her shit anymore.

        I can’t help but wish she had called my mom. My mom speaks pretty fluent English but sometimes she struggles to find the right words. I’m sure she would have had no problem telling that horrid woman to stop being so rude to her baby!

    • I so agree with you. And it’s false that skinny people are ‘happy’ – just as false as that old ‘jolly fat person’ thing.
      The way I see it, there are happy skinny people, happy ‘in the middle people’ and happy fat people – people who just happen to be whatever size their bodies decide to be and that’s fine with them. And there are, equally, unhappy skinny people, unhappy ‘in the middle’ people and unhappy fat people.
      Anyone can have an eating disorder and usually those unhappy with their size have one – whether they are fat or thin. It’s still distressing, it’s still dangerous.
      The grass isn’t always greener on the other side! Ha I nearly wrote, the grass isn’t always greener on the other SIZE.
      It’s so sad that decades of body shaming has taken our focus so far away from being who we ARE in our hearts and being healthy and letting that shine through – usually if we are happy and healthy and genuine, our bodies will come to whatever size is best for US. Instead we are focussed on the ‘carcass’ and forget all about US. We become superficial and bitter and jealous. We miss so many amazing life moments because we can’t get our heads out of our body obsession. We make ourselves sicker with constant dieting.
      I used to be borderline overweight at one point when I went through a period of overeating, during all my years of eating disorders. I was miserable, hated it. hated myself. And yet, I’m more miserable NOW at a very low BMI. I actually feel FATTER than I did then. So for all that striving and pain and self-abuse, I didn’t achieve that ‘skinniness’ for me anyway.
      Our bodies are so precious and life is so short. Just BE. You are all special as you are xx

      • And so are you, Fiona. :)

  21. So true. Back when I was in high school, I was just over the “obese” BMI marker and I knew I was fat, and while I didn’t receive any overt body shaming (I was my own worst critic), I saw plenty directed at thin people… I first came to size acceptance by watching how all the other girls treated my best friend who was super thin (and blonde haired and blue eyed), and all the assumptions they made about how she ate and why she was the way she was. I couldn’t accept myself for who I was, but I knew it was wrong for people to judge her on her appearance. Eventually I expanded that knowledge to include everyone on the size spectrum, and I’m much happier because of it. :)

  22. I am glad that you keep posting this. You have said it in a kind an compassionate way which I hope will help folks get the message. In my early days of finding the fat acceptance movement, I hated when I heard mean comments coupled with skinny. I eventually found my voice and started speaking up when I heard such things. I am glad that the fat acceptance movement seems to be transitioning to the size acceptance movement.

    I have had some conversations with people who are thin and have been riduculed for it. That is absolutely not ok and I will continue to stand against that in the same way I stand against folks being ridiculed for being fat.

  23. THANK YOU RAGEN! You are one awesome person.

    I’m thin, and I got the same treatment since age 13. Not just ‘eat something’ comments. People I didn’t know would demand a breakdown of my diet – literally demand to know if I ate carbohydrates, protein etc. Women I didn’t know would poke my core muscles and make loud comments about how exposed they were. People insisted on treating me like I was sick or injured or something – I was actually forbidden to lift plastic chairs in school because ‘You’ll barely manage one, you’ll hurt yourself’. The way people reacted to me you’d think I had some dire medical condition…uh no…And then there were the assertions that I must be mentally or physically ill. One girl actually said she worried about me and tried to get me to stop the weightlifting I did to gain some weight because ‘you’re killing yourself’. And I was expected to suck it all up because hey, it’s ultimately a compliment.

    Thanks again for this post.

  24. It was actually when I was comparing notes with my favorite cousin, who is genetically very skinny, that we both realized that we got the same crap from society. Especially when it came to healthcare. For me it just proved that it’s the diet industry and societal prejudice that are the problems, and changing the paradigm on health and respecting personal choice is the answer!

  25. This is why I love your blog so much. You seem to have so much understanding and compassion for all body types, and you make a continuous effort to illustrate that. As a thin woman, I feel welcome around the size acceptance community, which is something I have not always felt. I discovered FA around 3 years ago. The first blog I remember following was Kate Harding’s and I admit I was off on a bad foot, and part of it was my fault because I didn’t understand why fat acceptance really was at the time and I still had a bit of fat hating thoughts that were being communicated, and I was banned quite a few times from there, but I think the sass and attitude of Kate’s blog really threw me off too. I was too focused on how she was saying things and it distracted me from what what actually trying to be conveyed. Even after I came to my senses and apologized for my behavior, I was mocked and a few posts were made about me. I was flamed in the comments and many of them were skinny hating, and it just really showed their true colors.

    But here, I feel like you are so sincere and accepting. I just wanted to say thank you.

  26. Thank you! This SO needs to be said! When I lost 50 lbs. a few years ago, I was shocked at how many of my friends seemed to be upset about it and started calling me anorexic. I honestly was not anorexic! I was weighing what is considered normal for my height and bone structure according to the hated BMI charts. There are the constant posts I see telling me how “looking feminine” means I have to have hips. Unfortunately, even with the extra 50 lbs., I just don’t have a curvy figure. It’s always been straight up and down. When I gain weight, it’s all in the middle and it’s extremely unhealthy for me. I lost the weight so I could reverse my insulin resistance and lower my blood pressure. I guess it’s like women with curly hair wishing they had straight hair and women with straight hair wishing their hair was curly, even though I have a boyish figure and it’s “in fashion”, I’ve always wished I had curves. So it is hurtful to be told I’m not feminine because of my natural build. Bravo to you for reminding others not to do to others what they don’t like done to them.

    • Woah, doesn’t this open a can of worms. I lost about 55 pounds because of extreme illness and first I had to put up with people telling me I looked great, despite the fact that I didn’t have hair, eyebrows or much musculature at that point. I know some of it was actually people telling me I looked good despite my illness (they were telling me they had faith in my ability to survive), but there were also people who flat out told me I had never looked so good since I got sick.

      Since I’ve been in remission a new, completely weird phenomenon has begun to happen. People who either never cared about my weight before, or who frankly disapproved of how fat I was, have become food pushers. One woman has begun to bring cakes every time she sees me, even though I have repeatedly said I don’t want to eat cake. It’s like she was the good thin one, and I was the fatty that she could feel smug about befriending, and now that I’m not the bad fatty any more, it’s threatening to her.

      I’ve since come across other people who act the same way – one woman said of her fat sister’s dieting attempts, “If the diet works, I won’t be the thin sister any more!” and she sounded distressed about it, even though she’s the one who’s always nagging her sister to go on a diet. It’s the creepiest phenomenon I’ve ever come across, and I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before.

      As a fat woman inside a temporarily thin body, I’ve realised that we get crap coming and going. You’re fat? You’ll get crap. You lose weight? You’ll threaten and upset people and get crap. Naturally skinny? You’ll get crap.

      It’s not really about fat or thin. It’s about keeping women powerless and ashamed and I wish it was all the diet industry’s fault – unfortunately, we women are very, very good at policing each other very severely.

      • Yup, weight was always a competition in my family, one I never won because I was pretty much always fat. But my mom would get awfully gleeful when she wasn’t the heaviest and boy was she good at sabotaging anyone who was trying to lose weight. Very annoying and very frustrating and I have a lot of issues just from how I was treated because of my weight. This especially happened at my brother’s wedding where I was basically ignored while both older and younger sister were in a sense fawned over because my older sister had always been thin and had gone out with all of my brother’s groom’s men at one time or another (actually ended up marrying one of them) and my younger sister needed to be “protected” because she was thin and pretty. I was the fat sister, the “unattractive” sister because I was fat, and therefore, didn’t need protecting or even any attention. And since my future husband was in South Korea at the time, I didn’t even have him with me at the wedding. It really stung at the time.

      • What’s happened is that we women have learned to identify ourselves AS our bodies rather than recognizing that our bodies are merely containers for our real selves. They are at most only a part of the whole package, but when the package becomes critical to the identity, we strive for homeostasis at all costs. We crave that status quo because without it we don’t know who we are or where we fit in the world.

  27. thank you. ive been referred to as “that skinny bitch” in exercise class, had total strangers tell me that I needed to eat more, and been publicly and LOUDLY been accused of being anorexic. I am normal with a healthy appetite and genetically gave me a 5′ frame. I would never dream of approaching. stranger and pointing out what I find unattractive about them. if you think my physical form is unattractive then don’t look at it and please, keep your comments to yourself. its hard enough to have a positive self image without all of us attacking everyone who is different than us.

    • I have a friend who blistered the other day because a coworker told her “I hate you. You can eat what you want and never gain a pound.” Really???? Cuz you’re with her 24/7, so you know how she eats fatty foods at home and sits on the couch, right?

      No. Cuz you DO NOT see that she eats a lot of vegetables, whole grains and other healthy food and exercises 60 minutes a day on weekdays and 90 minutes on weekends, cursing her elliptical all the while.

      Assumptions are not pretty, no matter what side of the line you walk.

      Cindy, you just continue being your awesome self and this fat chick will support you to the end. :)

  28. I agree, Ashley! So many other blogs preach size acceptance but only for curvy girls. The twigs, sticks, women who look like 10 year old boys and skinny bitches aren’t allowed to love our bodies because we aren’t real women. I don’t understand how you can preach body love by encouraging body shaming of people who don’t look like you. I love Ragen for truly embracing size acceptance for everyone. We can do so much more if we work together instead of fighting against each other.

  29. Don’t like size oppression for any size.

    Do occasionally see a woman who I do think needs a sandwich because she looks pale and unwell, though.

    Would hate to let a sense of sensitivity keep me from helping someone who actually needs to eat

    • Sometimes I look pale and unwell because I ate plenty & it did not agree with me! (food allergies/intolerances) — you still can’t assume based on appearances.

    • While I understand your concern, I will respectfully state that your discomfort is your issue, not hers. It is unfair for you to foist your body judgment on her in order to soothe your own conscience.

      I would not presume that “pale and unwell” relates in any way to eating habits or disorders. Maybe she’s ill that day; maybe she’s newly pregnant and having morning sickness; maybe she didn’t get enough sleep; maybe, like my friend, she’s simply pale and thin but perfectly healthy. SO many reasons.

      It’s up to her to indicate if things are not well with her and even if they are not, she absolutely has the right NOT to indicate that if she so chooses. There are people to whom I would not want to disclose health information. Many folks are absolutely private. It is not your job to ask anything beyond, “Is everything OK? You don’t seem yourself.” And then accept her answer. Period. You don’t get to intrude just because you think you should.

      • I know I looked pale and unwell when I was caring for my terminally ill father. There aren’t enough cheeseburgers and sandwiches in the world that would have made me look healthier during that time. I know my friends worried about me but they expressed their concern by talking to me, taking me out when I needed a break and asking how they could help. They would no longer be my friends if their only suggestion was “Eat a sandwich.”

  30. You are absolutely right. This kind of wise, just and compassionate mindset is why you are not just another ranting, one-note blogger.

  31. I was a chubby teenager who was teased alot for my weight, developed bulimia,and largely recovered except for some persistent self-image problems. I danced professionally in my 20s, and while at a healthy weight at that time, was criticized for being fat. After having two children, my metabolism reset unexpectedly and I got quite thin, which opened up an entire new set of critical comments about my appearance and unwarranted concerns about my health and diet. No matter what weight I have been, it has never been “ok” – so I certainly empathize with the experiences of the women here and appreciate the attention being given to this problem. “Healthy” and “beautiful” are not a size or a number.

  32. Thank you! I consider myself an ally to fat people, and regularly speak up when I see fat shaming happening around me. But I have been skinny all my life. In fact, I’ve always been very self-conscious about my size.

    I try not to take it personally when I hear people say things like “never trust someone whose thighs don’t touch” or “real women have curves,” or “carpenters dream, flat as a board” etc, but the truth is these things hurt me.

    I get that being fat means being on the receiving end of these kinds of sentiments all the damn time rather than just once in a while, and sometimes when reclaiming a love and acceptance of your own body, it can be easy to turn it around on the images that have been used to oppress you. Because of that I try to react gently and with compassion when I hear those kinds of things come at me.

    But I agree that at its core, any kind of body shaming is hurtful to all of us. The more we make this about who is better? fat or skinny, the more we hurt ourselves. Because our worth is not about our size, it’s about who we are inside and how we affect others in the world around us.

    Hurting others to bolster our own self-image is truly ugly behaviour, no matter one’s size!

  33. This is brilliant and you are so right, this needs to be repeated over and over again.

  34. I am completely in agreement with you here – let’s just drop this notion that the way someone’s body looks tells you anything about them and lay off the judgments. We are all real women and men whether we’re tall, short, fat, skinny, muscular, able-bodied, have a physical disability that may or may not be obvious, have big feet or broad shoulders or a round belly or WHATEVER.

    Where do people get this notion that it’s OK to snark at anyone who looks different anyway? My parents raised me with the notion that making “personal comments” – including unsolicited opinions about people’s bodies – was incredibly bad manners. (Now there was plenty of body-image craziness going on in private, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.) Bottom line is, it ain’t none of your business.


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