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Why Skinny Shaming Is Not The Same As Fat Shaming

Skirt Collective recently published an awesome piece about skinny shaming. And while I one hundred percent agree that shaming anyone for their body size is uncool (and especially uncool to demand some chick “go eat a hamburger”—ugh!), I have a bone to pick with the title.

Skinny shaming is not the same as fat shaming, and it’s not just as bad. Is it bad? Yes. It’s terrible. Can it make someone feel as bad as if they were fat shamed? I’m sure it can, but I can’t speak to someone else’s feelings. But when you shame someone for being fat, you aren’t just hurting their feelings.

You’re reminding them of that well of memories and feelings inside of them that make them feel useless, ugly, lazy, and overall less worthy of living. You’re another voice, another brick wall to fight against just to feel OK enough to walk outside in public and not feel like some burdensome cyst-monster.

I’ve been fighting with my weight since before I hit puberty. That’s when I was first made aware that I was somehow “wrong” as a bigger girl. I remember dieting when I was eleven. ELEVEN. I remember how terrible it felt when my skinny friend gawked at my weight, and how good it felt to loose ten pounds. My Spongebob Squarepants baby doll tee looked so cute all of a sudden!

But it didn’t end there. I’ve been sick with this yo-yo dieting fever for thirteen years, and it’s hard for me to admit it to myself. I try to keep it very private, because I’m a very confident person and I don’t like to show weakness. But the truth is, I go back and forth like Oprah, and each time I get thin I think, “this is it!”

I learn each time as I get skinnier how many cruel things are said behind my back. And not just by peers, but my friends’ parents and my own family. But it’s OK, I’m prettier now! It can’t possibly sting! The fat person I was last year has nothing in common with this new, improved version of myself!

And yes, I have dealt with people telling me I should look out, that I shouldn’t get “too” skinny. Or that boys don’t like girls without curves. Yes, it’s annoying. I don’t appreciate people telling me that I need to be a certain size to remain “womanly.” But it’s infinitely better than being told that “you would look so much better if you just lost ten pounds.”
[sc:shn-ad1]
Because I’ve always been trying to lose ten pounds. I hate admitting it, because I haven’t ever truly accepted this fact. But I can’t remember a time or a weight where I wasn’t, somewhere in the back of my mind, fantasizing slipping into a smaller pant size.

This may be hard to understand for some, but imagine not feeling comfortable in a simple t-shirt. Bigger girls who have had issues with their weight probably know where I’m coming from. While I’ve come a long way, I still bristle when I see myself sometimes, and wonder for a second if I should put on something more “flattering”.

Carlo Aaron

Carlo Aaron

Carlo Aaron is a writer, artist, and blabber mouth who lives on the internet. TLC is her kryptonite and she thinks Superman is lame. Check out her blog, www.millennialaires.com, and follow her twitter shenanigans @teetertats.

10 Comments
  1. Bravo. I’ve been a person who, with 100% health, has been living with a fat body since 2yo. Grew up during a time when clothes for big kids who are girls was just not available. I grew up wearing mens clothes. Not fun and definitely emotional debilitating as a child/ teen. Until FINALLY NOW there are companies realizing that fat peoples money is green too! Lol
    The, “If you feel shamed for being skinny bothers you, you can always open up a magazine or watch some tv to feel validated” was perfect. Right there, explains the privilege.
    Thin people all day, everyday can say their genes or metabolism is the root cause of their THIN body type with medical community backup. But let a fat person say the same, using genes and metabolism as their argument without someone chiming in that we can’t “blame” genetics when the real reason one is fat is because of LAZINESS or lack of WILLPOWER. Right there is the difference.

    1. I feel you, it sucks having people assume so much about you just because you’re bigger. My metabolism is just SLOW, and maybe I have better things to do with my life than try and speed it up! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. it’s funny b/c i’ve been going through a lot of what you’ve said in this article, just in the past 9 months. in may, after a few years of trying to conceive a child with no luck, i was told i have PCOS (which causes irregular periods and thus it’s hard to try for a kid if you don’t know when you’re ovulating) and that the only way to really help it is to lose weight. my doctor said to lose 10 lbs. i was 189 lbs at 5 foot 2. i was a size 12. i know i was “fat” although i don’t think i was obese despite what the BMI chart shows. since then, i started working out 4-5 days a week and cut out most processed foods and i’ve lost 30 lbs (give or take a few) and am a size 4/6 now. i still weigh a lot since apparently most size 4/6 size people my height don’t weigh 160 lbs. most people are astonished when i tell them my weight and it makes me second guess my weight loss success. i wish these things weren’t such an issue! and i wish i could just be happy at what i’ve accomplished without feeling like i don’t deserve it, or that i was so unhealthy before, that i’m not totally sure i do look any different now, etc. why do we beat ourselves up about this crap???

  3. Skinny shaming is as bad as fat shaming. Both are forms of bullying. Do you think it doesn’t hurt me when someone tells me to “go eat a hamburger”. Or that I don’t have to watch what I eat because I’m skinny. I’m skinny because I don’t eat, I can’t eat or I won’t eat. I go days without eating. I’m so out of shape, even though I’m “skinny” that a flight of stairs causes me to be winded. If you feel ashamed for being overweight you can put that hamburger down. I would love to be able to eat regular meals at regular times. This article is nothing but a reason for you to bully others. And I am ashamed and sorry that a publisher is giving you the right to hurt and bully others.

    1. You know what? I have been there. I have been skinny, anemic, sickly, fainting regularly because I didn’t, wouldn’t, or couldn’t eat, more than one time in my life, and for a wide variety of reasons. I have also been on the other side of the spectrum: not obese, but definitely past the narrow margin of what society deems acceptably scrawny. I have been sickly skinny from disordered eating, I have been sickly skinny from mental health issues, I have sickly skinny from medication changes. I have been “fat” for the very same reasons, and also from injury and physical disability. I cannot speak to anyone else’s experiences, and I am so sorry that you have been hurt and bullied for you body, because no one deserves that – ever, period. Nobody should feel their personhood trivialized because society evaluates your worth based on your appearance. But I’ve got to say: I was ABUSED for being viewed as overweight, and I was showered in praise when I was underweight and unwell – by doctors, by family, by friends and loved ones. People made ugly comments as if they were coming from a nice place: oh, I see that you finally lost that big butt! I knew it was just baby fat and you’d lose it someday. Oh my gosh you look so good! You were so OVERWEIGHT before! And it was just okay to say this to me, because suddenly I was a skinny and beautiful person, and all the nasty things people thought about my fat self were okay. Having a body that is viewed as unacceptably large is not always a simple matter of “put down that hamburger” any more than having a body that is unacceptably thin is a simple matter of “pick that hamburger up and eat it – hell, eat twelve!” I do not advance the cause of any body-shaming, and I don’t agree with anyone making excuses about it, but in my experience, fat-shaming has in fact been different. I feel that being viewed as overweight is also associated with more negative, blaming, and shaming connotations – you must lack self-control, you must not care about yourself, you must be really lazy, you probably sit around all day and eat nothing but French fries, amirite? I found this much more hurtful than the invisibility of my struggles as a skinny person with disordered eating no one seemed to recognize or care about. I found it hurtful that fainting and starving and wishing I could eat more than five bites of food without feeling ill was accepted, rewarded, and ultimately viewed as a huge improvement over being 15 – 20 vanity pounds heavier and much healthier for it.

    2. I totally, wholeheartedly agree with you – and I know exactly where you’re coming from. It hurts me when people ask me if I diet, in a mean, bitchy way. I wish I could put on weight, I hate being boney and flatchested.

  4. I’m a fat woman. Always have been at least a little overweight. Only once have I been actually skinny, and that was in 6th grade and only because my doctors didn’t have my adderall dosage right and it kept me from eating. So I know how it feels to literally not feel comfortable in any of the clothes in my closet. But I also have to sisters who are naturally a size 0 at age 19 because they are triplets! (2 girls and a boy.) And I know what it does to them when people skinny shame them. They hate themselves sometimes because everyone says that’s unattractive or tells them to go eat something or it wouldn’t hurt to gain 10 pounds. And watched them struggle when they were younger and everyone else was getting curves and butts and blobs and th ey were straight as a board and flat as a 10 year old boy! They constantly try stuffing their face and eating everything. Always eating to gain weight! And its not just cause they aren’t trying enough or not exercising enough. they just can not gain weight because of their genetics! And it makes them feel just as terrible if not more as I feel when I hear someone say something about my size! Probably more, cause I could actually do something if I really tried or had a little more time to exercise, like a lot of other bigger women. Yes there are people who do it in bad ways like starving or obsessly over exercise just like there are those who are fat cause they’re (we’re) too lazy to eat right or exercise. Some people can’t help their size and others can. So yes skinny shaming is just as bad! And hurts just as bad!

  5. I find this article to be a part of the problem as a whole….why is shaming women be it fat or skinny acceptable? This is just disgusting and a disgrace.

  6. This entire article is just irony. Yes you comment on how you understand skinny shaming is bad, BUT by also saying it’s nowhere near how bad fat shaming is. That’s the problem. Why can’t ALL shaming end. People are missing the point, healthiness. No matter the frame you are, we should strive to be healthy. We are all genetically different and Coming from a 5’8 112 lb woman I can say yes I do look very skinny given my genes, but I also know that I am a healthy 112 lbs. Women need to get over themselves and trying to make one body better or worse than the other. This article is not bringing any one up, instead of talking about how bad fat shaming is why don’t you talk about the importance of encouraging others through these times and encouraging the idea to get a healthy regimen going. Every body type can be truly beautiful as long as their body brings them physical health. Whether you have curves with a big ass or skinny limbs with no tits. Rant over.

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