Real Women Have Bodies
This was another post that was terrifying to hit "publish" on. I truly hope from the bottom of my heart no one finds this post to be attacking or judgmental. It is meant with the utmost respect for women—all women.
For the girls who aren't naturally or effortlessly thin,
(Also known as the majority of women past the onset of puberty)
Maybe society and pop culture weren't the loudest ones saying it, but trust us: We naturally thin girls have always had someone criticizing, critiquing, and commenting on our bodies too.
Our aunts and grandparents and neighbors told us—no, dismissed us—to "go eat a sandwich" more times than we can count, always with a rather sharp tilt to their voices that we didn't realize was resentment until we got older.
We had classmates and peers shout "anorexic" at us and shame us for small-portioned lunches that were, really, all we needed to eat to feel full.
We were called "bony" or "skin and bones," and trust us, it was never meant as a compliment—and we never heard it as such. We were called "too skinny," our bodies were "boyish," and you wouldn't believe how many times we were led to believe our lack of a certain shape kept us from being "real women."
And yes, boys said "ew" when they saw us in our bathing suits too.
Maybe there were no songs about us embracing our size, but there were plenty about the perks of loving a girl with a butt—but ours were too bony to comfortably sit on laps or shake like mama gave us a damn thing.
Maybe you think we looked at Victoria's Secret models and saw body types like our own, but we just saw perfect breasts and golden tans and flawless angles that we didn't have either.
Just because we weren't called "fat" doesn't mean we weren't called names. We've been called "skinny bitch" more times than we can count, and just because those two girls decided to claim it for their book title doesn't mean the rest of us think being called "bitch" is a compliment.
"Do you ever eat?" "Go have a cheeseburger!" "You're too skinny." Maybe they don't sound like painful slights to you, but we heard them multiple times a day, every day. It was never said with a friendly tone, but always an accusatory one. Because our dietary preferences and enthusiasm for activity or even a metabolism we couldn't control were apparently personal attacks on women who didn't have our body types. And we must have an eating disorder or a massive self-esteem issue to maintain this size.
Just because you didn't see it doesn't mean that every middle-aged woman or bigger-than-size-two girl didn't look at us like we were doing something wrong when they caught a glimpse of our small waists or thigh gaps—which occurred naturally due to the shape of our pelvic bones. For every comment you heard about your weight, we heard one too.
And a lot of the time, we heard the comments about our weight and size from girls like you, who were tired of people making comments about their weight and size.
I'm not saying our struggles were or are the same, and I'm not saying girls or women of size don't have something to be angry about when it comes to pop cultures' messages about body image. They do.
But I am saying that it's not thin girls' fault when society treats you badly, and it doesn't give anyone an excuse to treat thin girls badly to "even the score."
Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic illness in adolescents, and kills 12 times more women ages 15-24 than any other cause of death.
Skinny girls aren't "lucky." And yes, we can understand what it's like to struggle with our weight. To feel gross in anything we put on. To stand in front of the mirror and hate what we see. To hear comment after comment about what we're eating and how we look. To want to just lose a few more pounds—in just a few more pounds, life will be perfect.
Body confidence and the monsters that destroy it are not inclusive or exclusive to any shape, size, or weight.
All women—and men—of all sizes, shapes, and weights are deserving of respect and privacy regarding their figures and should be free from commentary. "You're so skinny" is not a compliment, nor a welcome assessment.
Girls who aren't naturally thin, I'm sorry if you've been made to feel badly about the way you look. Truly, I am. Because I know how it feels, at least in part, and it's unacceptable that people found it appropriate to make you feel that way.
But the existence of naturally thin girls is not to blame. And if a thin girl made you feel bad, that's because she's rude. Not because she's thin.
Girls who aren't "all about that bass" are deserving of mamas' and boys' respect too, but why do we care if boys like our bodies when we talk about our self-esteem? And why do only the ones with curves get to be "real women"?
Real women have bodies. Big, small, short, tall, fat, thin, apple-shaped, pear-shaped, hourglass-shaped, rectangle-shaped, pinecone-shaped. Human-shaped.
It's admirable to be above body-shaming and embrace your size as a girl in size 6 jeans, size 10 jeans, or size 24 jeans. But the girls in size 0 jeans are just as womanly as any other woman, and insults about their bodies hurt them just as much as they hurt anyone else.
Because we're all women. We're all humans. And we're all deserving of respect and self-confidence, no matter what size jeans we wear.