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we need to talk about skinny shaming

we need to talk about skinny shaming

I’m fed up. Fed up with being called anorexic, of being told to eat more, of having my health questioned and of hearing friends’ mums and family members ask, ‘Gosh you’re thin, you are eating, aren’t you?’

In a society where we are increasingly accepting of all body shapes and sizes, I find it puzzling why such questions and comments are seen as remotely appropriate by so many people. I find it hard to believe that those same people would question so invasively the eating habits of someone who is overweight. I for one would never dream of it. Not only is it not my place, I personally don’t think it’s remotely relevant to anyone but that person.

‘Boo hoo,’ I hear you mutter. Poor skinny girl, can eat whatever she wants, fit all the clothes, yet still finds something to moan about. Well I want to moan, and I will moan. I receive comments of a similar tone to that of which someone who is overweight likely receives. ‘You’d be hotter if you gained weight’… ‘You can’t be healthy’…’You look ill‘, and so on.

In no way do I wish to invalidate others’ struggles: I’m not naive to the fact that overweight men and women get a lot of stick, from verbal to physical abuse, some of which can be so warped and intense mentally that it becomes life-threatening. My ability to understand and empathise with their struggle, despite it being on the surface different to mine, however, is exactly the reason why I’m fed up of receiving grief myself. If you champion body positivity for larger men and women, I struggle to understand how you can condemn it for those who are technically underweight.

My BMI is classified as ‘dangerously low.’ In France, to walk in Paris Fashion Week, I would have to obtain a letter from my GP to confirm that I was fit to work. The new legislation introduced by France is most definitely a step in the right direction in regards to tackling the modelling industry’s troubles with eating disorders. However, it draws a worryingly thin line between protecting both models and the public from the promotion of unhealthy body weights, and between shaming models themselves into thinking that they look physically ill, when in reality a significant amount are naturally just very slim. Combined with regular comments from people around me regarding my physical appearance, I wouldn’t say it’s surprising that I, and many of the girls I’m around, are made to feel awkward and uncomfortable in their own skin.

I don’t deny that in the grand scheme of things my plight seems fairly trivial. I’m also not denying that smaller bodies are idolised in our society and have been for a fairly long time: that will most likely continue to be the case. I recognise that my body comes with a privilege that some are not afforded. For one, it has allowed me to earn money and gain opportunities through modelling for the past 6 years, on and off. These privileges, I think, are part of the reason why the shaming and ridiculing of thin bodies, so openly, is seen as just.

Yet nothing gives someone the right to condemn me, question me, and ridicule me for my perfectly healthy body. It does not mean that I don’t look in the mirror and feel the same pangs of disgust and dislike at my own appearance that someone larger than me also experiences. My body should not have to become a battle ground, and my mind should not have to heal from the scars that obtrusive and oblivious friends and strangers have inflicted upon it over the years. I should not have to fight off accusations and insults on a regular basis from people who feel they have the right to pick me apart. No-one should.

A less aggressively judgemental approach to different body weights, shapes and sizes is clearly needed, not only in the real world, but on social media too. Empathy and compassion are vital if our twitter feeds and other social media platforms are going to become less overwhelmingly toxic and vicious. We pick each other apart on a daily basis with a mobile device as a shield and stand by idly as we see venomous comments flying around the internet, yet find it surprising when young people take their own lives before they’ve even reached adulthood. Social media seems to numb us of all feeling and sense of what is, and is not, appropriate, particularly in the arena of body weight and image.

I shouldn’t have to grin and bear insensitive comments just because I’m thin, and my own insecurities can’t and won’t be invalidated by the existence of someone else’s. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes could be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever taken on. Taking the time to consider just how someone might take a comment or question involves very little effort, and could genuinely have an impact on someone’s mental and physical well-being.

 

Kirstie x



16 thoughts on “we need to talk about skinny shaming”

  • This is really well written! And doesn’t come off as patronising or anything, I agree with everything you wrote tbh people need to think more before they speak

  • hey kirstie! my BMI is classed as underweight also and i completely understand and relate to what you’re saying. occasionally i complain about how small i am and how shops sometimes don’t even have sizes small enough for me (size 6/8); the only response i can get from my friends is sarcasm or genuine offence. personally, i can’t see the difference in anyone moaning about ANY body size, everyone should simply aspire to be healthy. i wish i didn’t have to be ignored and left out of conversations about body issues because “you’re thin so you must be happy”. even the word ‘skinny’ is such a disgusting way to describe someone and i get it all the time. thank you for making this post because at least i now know that there’s someone who feels the same. lots of love x

  • I love this post. Being told that you look “too thin” is not a compliment – in my case, it just makes me feel self conscious for not having any “curves” – so thank you for talking about this x

  • I’ve never felt so good reading something related to the skinny. People always criticize those not ideally seen in their heads, so it is with those who are overweight and those who are too thin in the face of it. What should matter in society, are our forms of expression, who we are and not any number in the balance! Thank you Kirstie for again, show a reality with amazing blog posts and wise words.

  • Not only does your blog look beautiful, but the content in this is important! It’s incredible that you’re speaking out about such a subject! x

  • Dear Kirstie,

    This was such a well-written piece and I am so glad that you published it for us to read to constantly remind us that there are issues like this still existing. Before this, I have already strongly felt that body shaming is one of those stigmas that we have to strive to get rid off.

    I think this is being said a lot but we should definitely be comfortable in our own skin no matter what. It’s also not acceptable when people jump so quickly to conclusions that if you’re thin you’re immediately anorexic or if you’re on the chubbier side, you’re overweight and people instantly criticise your appearance.

    To be honest, I don’t think there is an ideal body type that we have to achieve but it’s because of the negative media influence infiltrating and planting the seeds of doubt into our thoughts is why we end up with these social stigmas.

    On that note, I am just thankful that you are happy and healthy because that is what should really matter instead of how we see ourselves.

    Love,
    Isabella

  • Wonderfully said. It does get tiring when you have to fake a laugh and attempt not to scowl whenever someone comments about how skinny you are and it really does happen all the time, doesn’t it? People are definitely under the impression that telling you that you are too skinny or that you should eat more is complimentary. At first while reading this I didn’t think I was that self-conscious about being skinny, but I realised the amount of times I’ll be walking with people or even by myself and just feel like the human embodiment of a spaghetti noodle, lanky and awkward. Or when I wear a tighter t shirt and be worried because my ribs are sticking out. Luckily, most of the time i’m extremely fortunate to be able to forget about it and not dwell too much.
    Also, I think that you did a lovely job of acknowledging the different types of body shaming in a non-patronising and compassionate way. Truly admirable x

    -Annie 🙂
    (Also, also, I love the blog update, it looks so beautiful!)

  • Hi Kirstie,
    thank you so much for this post.

    I really wish I could go back to the time where my weight wasn’t a problem for me or for anyone, actually. I’ve waited so long for someone to speak up about skinny shaming and I recognize myself so much in this post, that’s why I want to thank you. I thought no one could really understand the way I feel and how hard it is to be as skinny as me, especially nowadays. I think people just don’t understand that words hurt skinny people as much as overweight people. I’ve never had any complexes before but now I’m broken from the inside, I’m not confident and hate my body, talking about my weight makes me burst into tears and these are the consequences of years of skinny shaming by my own family and friends.

    I really wish the society could stop skinny shaming to defend overweight people, every time I read or hear things like “I’d rather date a curvy woman than a skeleton” or “you think you’re pretty being anorexic?” it breaks me and I just don’t get how people can say that because they wouldn’t say such horrible things to an overweight woman. I’m really happy that the society is getting more and more open minded and start to accept and defend overweight people but I just feel like the new “target” is skinny bodies. I love and find absolutely gorgeous every single type of body that exist and wish people would stop every kind of body shaming.

    I’m only a seventeen-year-old girl and I already struggle so much about my weight. With celebrities like Kylie Jenner or Kim Kardashian being role models for millions of girls, having no curves and being very skinny is even harder (not judging or criticizing though, I don’t hate them and wish I could embrace myself and be as confident as them).
    So, thank you again Kirstie from the bottom of my heart for being the first woman to speak up about this topic. You’re being such an inspiration to me, never doubt about yourself because I assure you, you’re da BEST.
    Lots of love,

    Emma xx

  • This blog really inspired me to stand out for myself. Two months I gained some weights and became a bit fat than I used to, so my parents decided that it’s not good for my health, being a fatty, but whenever I would ask my friends they would say that I’m in a good shape even in a better shap than I used to be. Then one week ago I started going to the gym not to lose any weight, but to keep in shape and live with healthy life and my parents decided that I was doing that to lose it so they keep reminding me how thin I have to be and when I said the words that my couch told me “you can lose 0 weight but still get the shapes you want, depends on your organism” they didn’t like the part where I wouldn’t lose any weight and it actually bothered me, but after reading this blog I understood that there are many people like me and I should not listen to my parents or other family members just because they think that some kl’s doesn’t mean that I am healthy.

    Thanks for this blog post again!
    Love you
    Ani xx

  • Although I’m not that skinny and haven’t really be skinny shamed I am extremely thankful you posted this. My little sister ( I say little she’s around 5 inches taller then me) is 12 years old. A child! She’s tall for her age and extremely skinny. I’m a couple of years older, much shorter and a bit more curvy and because of this people seem to asume she doesn’t eat or she does too much exercise but in reality she’s just a different shape! She eats a tone of crap and is still stick thin! I’ve had to go up to people and defend her because they have called her anorexic till she’s cried. It’s disgusting and needs to stop. It’s just as bad as fat shaming. Thank you for this the world needs to hear xx

  • OEN MORE TIME FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK skinny fat body whatever shaming is not okay. Never was and never will be.
    Commenting and making shitty remarks on someone else’s appearance, under the premise that they are just ‘looking out for you’ and ‘don’t mean any harm’?!?! *eye roll*
    How about this: ask ME about MY opinion on MY body before judging.
    Might have to print this blogpost out so next time someone starts skinny shaming I can just show them this because you are spot on!

    xx Jolien

  • I am very slim too, and almost feel as if I’m not allowed to say that I don’t always like my body, because people will say I am ungrateful and would do anything to be as ‘skinny’, but then sometimes I would rather have bigger hips or legs that didn’t look so thin, and I should be able to say this as much as someone who is ‘fat’ and would rather have thin arms and legs.

    Thank you for making this post though Kirstie! Haven’t read your blog for a while but I’ll be catching up on your posts x

  • I feel a bit conflicted on skinny shaming, because being a slim, slender girl myself, I do feel the concept isn’t quite right. The ‘shaming’ in skinny shaming is not the same as the shaming in fat shaming, so I feel like they’re different concepts.
    While the shaming on fat shaming is more about some kind of-i hate to say- disgust on someone’s appearence because of the fact that we have a social construction that tells people that fat people aren’t beautiful, attractive or healthy, I feel like skinny shaming is kind of the repercussion of those thoughts; thinking that us skinny people are ill because of how we look is just the reflection of the awareness that is on the fact that many people do go through eating dissorders just in order to achieve that much desired skinny look. So, I feel like the ‘shaming’ on fat shaming is built on anger and rejection whilst the ‘shaming’ on skinny shaming is based on a more sorry, simpathy aspect.
    Therefore, I feel like both concepts need to be rebuilt and gone through ethimologically.
    I do think skinny shaming is very real though (I feel constantly invalidated on my insecurities, getting comments as “you’re already thin, what are you talking about”, followed by an eyeroll, after I’ve commented about something I don’t feel too good about on my body), but I don’t think it’s as harsh or as violent as fat shaming, because there is a note of pity on it once you kind of give it a read.
    Again, this is just my personal opinion!
    Love the content and I very much enjoy to read you!

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