I remember the first time I was “skinny shamed” although the phrase had not yet been invented. I was in my granny’s house in Moville, Co Donegal.
There was a crowd of people around the kitchen table and gran’s friend entered the room, took one look at me and said, “Gosh do her parents feed her?” Looking around I noticed everybody in the room nodding in agreement. I was 10 years old.
There was no compassion. Nobody told the woman to leave me alone, or chastised her for being rude. They just continued their conversations. I sat there feeling ashamed and abnormal, as though there was something wrong with me.
I remember the feelings of emptiness and upset. Even 10 years later I still think about that experience. The interesting thing is, not much has changed. When I tell people about this incident now, I never get much of a reaction never mind sympathy. “Skinny shaming” has become socially acceptable to the point where it is now unrecognisable.
I have never been big, I have always been “tiny” as people like to say. You might think in this body-obsessed era thin or tiny might be seen as a good thing, but it turns out when you are slim, people think it won’t hurt to describe your body shape and make it a talking point.
I eat until I’m full
I don’t eat a lot but I do eat until I’m full. People say, “Do you eat rabbit food?” but I’m not super healthy. I eat pizza and burgers like anyone else. I am the way I am due to genetics and a fast metabolism. I don’t have to worry a whole lot about gaining weight.
Some people seem to think that by being thin I can avoid all health issues, but that’s a lie. As though underweight people don’t have heart attacks or become ill.
Some days I don’t feel good about myself and the last thing I want is to be attacked about my weight. A lot of the time I wear clothes that are big on me, or I avoid wearing too much black because it is a slimming colour. I feel I must take these measures to avoid the inevitable rude commentary.
Body positivity has blown up in a big way. I'm happy about this, but people forget there is more than one type of physique. Artists are writing body positivity songs but these generally promote one kind of frame. Take Nicki Minaj's lyrics to Anaconda: "Say he don't like 'em boney, he want something he can grab" which promotes curves, but what about people that are boney? Are we not allowed to embrace their bodies as well?
These lyrics make me feel I’m not good enough. I get told I would “look much better with some meat on my arse”. I don’t see this as a compliment and don’t understand why anyone would. It is just plain rude.
As rude as another question I am often asked: “When was the last time you had a decent meal?” I can guarantee you most people wouldn’t ask that of someone who is plus-sized . Singer Jamelia has said that women under a size six shouldn’t be able to buy clothes on the high street. This comment is not helpful or kind.
I’m sick of being a target and sick of not being allowed to find a comment like that offensive.
Everyone has dreams of their ideal body. Because I’m thin I’m told I already have a dream body. I may be thin but just because I am does not mean I’m in good shape. Maybe I want to be more toned or muscular. Maybe I don’t feel completely comfortable in my body. Many people don’t. People say I should be happy I am thin but it’s hard be happy when I am judged for my size.
It’s got to the point where when I meet new people it is the first thing people comment on. I get told I look like I am “sickening for something”. When someone is annoyed at me, quite often, the first insult I receive, especially on social media, is “anorexic bitch”. It’s upsetting that a life-threatening disease is being used to describe my physique. The person saying these things does not usually stop to consider their target may have an eating disorder.
Skinny shaming is very easy to get away with. The comments are made slyly, through unsolicited advice and jokes. After most comments the person will give me a little smirk as though that will make it acceptable. Bearing the brunt of these comments makes me highly sensitive in the way I speak about other people’s appearance so I don’t understand why someone would say these things.
It could be jealousy or envy. Maybe the person is trying to put me down to make themselves feel better. Or is there more to it than that? Perhaps people are genuinely blind to the fact that these comments are insults.
Normal decency doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to skinny shaming, because even the people who witness it never speak out about it when it’s happening. The holy grail of “thin” continues to be tied to tropes of aspirational beauty. If you are thin you should be happy about it and shut up.
People need to realise skinny shaming is just as offensive as fat shaming. It has the same negative emotional impact. It’s the reason why since I was 10 years old at my granny’s table I have had so many body issues. It’s why I still do not have body confidence.
I wrote this to make people understand that skinny shaming is never acceptable. Every woman or man is a human being with feelings.
Having less fat on your body does not make you less of a person. Just as having more fat on your body doesn’t diminish your humanity.
Thin people should be given as much space and consideration as plus-sized people. It’s about time we embraced our bodies and spread body positivity for all frames.