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.

Comments

  1. Preach, girl, preach!!!!! I can't tell you how many times I've been told "i'm too skinny" or "go eat something". I find this post to be informative of the other side of the equation and just because we don't have that bass doesn't mean we aren't real women. Everyone should support everyone to be the best they can be in life. We are all beautiful! And you are amazing for sharing this post! :)

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  2. Perfect post. Im not naturally thin and I have boobs and a butt, but ironically my mum is. Also I went to school with a girl who was really slender and everyone made fun of her. It was sad even for me a not naturally slim girl to witness. Real women have bodies as you said. #preach

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  3. Yes!! I'm a naturally thin girl and I have experienced all of those comments my whole life. I have just as many body insecurities as any other woman, but feel that thin girls aren't allowed to voice them. "Girl you need to eat a burger" is the worst. If I were to tell a bigger girl to stop eating so much it would be considered rude.

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  4. This ----> 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."

    I had a roommate in college who has remained one of my very best friends. We have a shared joke between us - we hate to shop together. When I couldn't buy a certain tank top because my boobs were obscenely popping out, she was jealous. When she'd try on jeans to try to make her look like she had a butt, I was envious. This friendship of ours has taught the both of us about body image, self-love, and the stigmas and comments that are thrown around without thought.

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  5. Beautifully written!! It's sad that society finds something to latch on to with everyone - you're not thin enough, you aren't eating enough, boobs too big, too small. I think we all see something not quite perfect in ourselves and we have to really change the way we think before we can see the change in society!

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  6. love this. we all have issues regardless of body type. i think those who make these sorts of comments are jealous. yeah, i said it. there is absolutely no reason to make snide comments to anyone about anything unless there's some jealousy or resentment behind it. my cousin is like that -- she is stick thin and eats junk food ALL DAY. even at the age of 36, she can still do that. i say, you go girl; ride that train for as long as you can. i have never said or thought anything bad towards her about that because that's the way her metabolism/body is so good on her.

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  7. love this. i have a similar post in my drafts but it's much more ranty. i have always struggled with my weight, however, yes I have been 'lucky' enough to be relatively thin my entire life. I can't count the amount of times someone has said to be at the gym - or elsewhere - that they wouldn't eat healthy / exercise if they looked like me, that I don't have to 'try'. what gets me is, what do those people think happens when you lose weight? that you magically reach a certain weight and you don't have to try anymore? no. how do you know i wasn't 300lbs and i've worked my butt off to get to the 'thin' person i am now? why do people feel the need to comment on any person's body?
    it amazes me how much better i am in regards to being nicer to myself etc but i still catch myself calling myself fat. the other day, i decided to do something i wasn't quite comfortable with, and talk about it on social media. and someone told me i had a thigh gap and i didn't have to worry about it. um, excuse me? i am talking about my mind, not my body. i don't have a thigh gap, regardless of how stupid that is btw, i don't have one unless i stand with my legs apart, which i happened to be doing for that photo. but even if i did, what does that have to do with my mind and the way i see myself? when i was younger and all 'skin and bones' a modelling agency told me to lose 15kg. like wtf? no wonder we all have issues, and we make it worse when we bad mouth each other.
    i am not trying to pretend i know what it is like to be morbidly obese, but i just hate hate hate when people say 'you don't know what it's like not to like what you see in the mirror, or for clothes to not fit properly, or to fill in the blank here' it's like, of course i freaking do! like you said, Body confidence and the monsters that destroy it are not inclusive or exclusive to any shape, size, or weight.

    Seriously, this whole topic just hurts my heart. just because you like what you see when you look at someone else doesn't mean they do. end of story.

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  8. I think I've started to write a comment and then deleted everything like five times because I can't figure out exactly how to respond but this is one of my favorite posts of yours. I think one of the worst things growing up, and just in general in life, is when people say things in a way to make someone else feel bad for who they are or how they look because they are different. I remember that whole campaign (I think) about size 0 not being a size, and even though I'm not a size 0, it's just like whaaaat?? Like why are we promoting things that are going to make someone else feel bad? It just doesn't make sense to me- but I feel like you summed it all up a million ways better than I ever could. <3

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  9. It's kind of insane that skinny shaming is our first reaction to fat shaming. I was guilty of it in high school and it was entirely because I was insecure about my own body. But I thought I was in the right! And now, looking back, I can't even conceive of a mindset that never once stopped to think, "Oh, but I don't like this when other people do it to me."

    Ryan's super thin and I think some of his comments and stories have really helped me to see the other side of things. Even after I stopped being an asshole, I still didn't realize that being "too thin" opens you up to just as much criticism as being "too fat." Everyone's got an opinion and plenty of them are going to share it with you. Because of course they know what's better for your body than you do!

    I'm glad you posted this. And if anyone does have a problem with it, then they're probably the ones who need to hear it most.

    P.S. All About That Bass is such a terrible song and IT WON'T DIE! I still hear it at every wedding or group event. But it also makes me laugh because she says things like "I'm bringing booty back" and it's like, "Uh, girl. That's cute, but I'm pretty sure it's been back." I mean, I Like Big Butts?!?! Bootylicious? Fat Bottomed Girls? The Thong Song? Another song about curvy women is hardly earthshaking.

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  10. How could you ever feel nervous hitting publish on this?? Alyssa, this is, like it always is when you get uber serious - amazing. I've never been a "skinny" girl but I can imagine that either end of the spectrum is no place anyone truly wants to be.

    I've always been in the middle, or upper middle. I'm never going to be a skinny girl and I'm glad. The goal, for everyone, should be to be HEALTHY and feel good in their own skin and regardless of what the scale says, if you FEEL good, that's what matters. Body image is such a horrible thing. Fat shaming should never lead to skinny shaming as a defense. There is no place for either of those things.

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  11. This is a great post! As a "plus size" girl, I can never really get on board with the "fuck the thigh gap" and "real women have curves" mantras, because some real women don't. Embracing your size shouldn't be about shaming someone else's. It took me like 30 years to realize that health is more important than weight, but it's finally sinking in. Hopefully someday (soon) we can focus less on policing each other's bodies and more on health at any/every size.

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  12. HEAR HEAR!!!! Finally, a thought from the "other" perspective! I've just stopped commenting back to those who make comments about me being "too skinny," and don't participate in weight conversation at all because my issue seems to be reverse of my friends, and they never even try to understand that to me, it is an issue. We are women, and we do come in all shapes and sizes, and the body shaming needs to stop on all sides. Especially when a lot of times, it's women doing it to other women! We need to start building each other up instead of tearing each other down.

    Great post!

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  13. I think there is too much body shaming in general, no matter the size. Perhaps one day we could live in a society that accepted everyone no matter their size, race. religion or political views but I don't see that happening anytime soon. Bravo for posting this!

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  14. (Stopping in from a cafe in Carmel just because I love you and this post that much <3)

    First, yes to what Michael said re: your writing. Please don't ever be afraid to publish something because everything you say is full of truth and I love you for it.

    Second, I know this is an important issue for you and I'm glad you spoke your mind because there are too many people who think that skinny shaming is not a real thing. You know what I look like, and I've always looked this way...sometimes a little plumper, other times a little fitter, but more or less the same. My best friend growing up was naturally rail thin (and yes I witnessed so many of these comments directed at her) and I wished I looked more like her than me. I never had a huge body image problem but, like most people, there have been times in my life I wish I looked like someone else.

    I know you can relate to this, but that finally changed for good once I started running and becoming a healthier person in general. I think I've told you this story before, but I remember going to the beach for the first time the summer after I ran my first half. That was the first time I ever remember solidly not giving a shit whether or not everyone could see my thighs touch or my love handles in my bikini. I really didn't look much different than I did pre-HM but the difference was that I worked for that body and it could do things! Hard things! And I realized then that I like how I look and that is okay.

    Also, being married to a skinny person has made me a lot more sensitive about this. Ben and I weigh the same even though he's a foot taller than I am. No joke. I think it makes me way angrier when someone comments about his weight/size than he does!

    Ok gotta go sip my iced coffee and look at the Pacific Ocean. Love you!

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  15. for some reason this only showing up in my reader today, but I totally agree with you. being of the naturally thin side I have been in more uncomfortable situations than I can count because of other women finding it OK that they can make comments on my body at work no less, because they perceive it to be a compliment (I guess) usually its just them bemoaning something about themselves and saying *I* could never understand. Awkward much? how am I supposed to reply to that? and how do you know I don't have my own fair share of issues just like everyone else? also while I am naturally thin I also spent 12 years busting my ass in the pool to earn this athletic body. i hate it when people act as though I've just been given something i didn't earn or don't deserve or just got "lucky" nope. i worked for it.

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  16. Amazing post!! I've never been on the naturally thin side but I've always hated the phrase "real women have curves". Body shaming is NEVER ok. Everyone is so uniquely and beautifully made, and has their own struggles. I wish women in general would focus more on building each other up, I think that's part of why I love the blogging community so much!

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