We all know what fat shaming is. It happens all around us every day. It happens when a 7th grader is picked last in gym class because she’s still got a bit of baby fat and isn’t the most athletic person in the world. It happens when companies Photoshop the hell out of their already-fit models so that they can look “good” and “presentable” for their brand. It happens when society tells us that anyone over a size 12 is “plus-size” and forces them to shop in a special section of a store or an entirely different store that’s made for people like them.
Fat shaming isn’t a new concept to most people. It’s something that women deal with every day. The media sets these high standards of unattainable beauty and forces us to over-analyze our every “flaw” and makes us feel belittled and insecure. But luckily, we live in a day and age where women are feeling empowered to speak their mind and are taking a stand against fat shaming. With the release of Meghan Trainor’s pop hit “All About That Bass” and campaigns like the Dove Real Beauty challenge, we’ve said screw the media’s perception of beauty and let’s embrace the fact that real women aren’t all stick-thin models.[sc:shn-ad1]
While I totally commend the movement to motivate all women to love their bodies, something about these campaigns leave me less than satisfied. Rather than messages empowering women of all sizes, a new message has emerged from the masses:
Real women have curves.
If you think that there’s nothing wrong with this message then you’re wrong. Skinny shaming is very real, and it’s alive in today’s culture. Sure, there are worse things in the world than being labeled skinny. You can even say that skinny people don’t have it as rough as people who are on the bigger side. I mean, they fit in. They’re the ” ideal societal norms” – the cool kids, if you will. But to say that calling out a woman for her smaller body is acceptable and calling out a woman for her vivacious one is not is simply unjust. Skinny people have feelings. Fat people have feelings. People have feelings. And the relevancy of these feelings shouldn’t be based upon someone’s body size.[sc:shn-ad2]
Look at this picture:
Sophia Bush wore this t-shirt after Urban Outfitters designed a shirt donning the words “Eat Less” across the front, as a sign of protest against the fashion outlet. Did she have good intentions? Of course she did. But guess what Sophia? It may be the fault of the fashion industry for labeling a 25-inch waist as a size “0”, but that doesn’t mean this “size” doesn’t exist. It does exist. I am a size 0 (by definition of the fashion industry), Sophia. I exist.
At 5’4 and roughly 120 pounds, I’m not nearly as thin as some of the girls who are skinny shamed but I most definitely feel their pain. Despite not being blessed with the genetic lottery or an overactive metabolism, I am what Americans would consider as small. And thanks to my Asian genes, I lack curves, even when I’m “skinny fat”. Up until I was 20, I was still wearing a girl’s size 14 (pants for 14 year-old-girls). I only moved up to a women’s size “0” after discovering the magic of squats and leg day – without that, I could very much still be in children’s sizes.[sc:shn-ad3]
But does my lack of curves make me any less of a woman? Some people seem to think so. And although these people are mostly joking when they tell me that I need to “go eat a cheeseburger,” there’s a part of them that’s not. (In case you were wondering, I eat A LOT of cheeseburgers.) Why is this okay? Why is it okay to tell someone with a smaller frame to eat more but not okay to tell someone with a larger frame to eat less? Why is it okay that you can point at someone who’s thin and call them “gross” or “unhealthy” but you can’t do it to someone who has curves?
I, for one, am tired of the double-standard that exists within body shaming. The truth of the matter is that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Some women have curves. Some don’t. There is no norm, and there shouldn’t be. I hope that one day the world can come to terms with this and people can stop hating on each other based on appearances.