This One’s For the Girls, Especially the Skinny Ones…

…because lately, I feel like y’all are getting the rotten end of the bargain.

Why? Well, it seems like there’s a lot of pro-pound propaganda out there that’s bent on glorifying heavier set women. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving your body, whatever its size or shape (thick, thin, tall, small), but when did that come at the expense of slimmer women? We’re all on the same team, remember? We just happen to be differently proportioned.

Fat acceptance–at what cost to skinnier counterparts?
Fat acceptance–at what cost to skinnier counterparts?

Come to think of it, I rarely, if ever, hear slimmer women commenting on the weight of larger women. Rather, what I do hear quite often is this: “Gosh, you’re getting so skinny” or derogatory comments about a woman’s dietary preferences. I call DOUBLE STANDARD. It would hardly be acceptable for a woman of smaller size to exclaim to one of her larger-boned female friends, “Gosh, you’re getting so plump” or to criticize her food choices. Since when did it become acceptable to comment on anyone else’s weight?

Now, while I can’t relate to the widespread female struggle with obesity, I’ve had my own weight-related challenges. At certain times in my life I’ve had to force myself to eat just to remain healthy. And I can assure you: Weight-related name-calling isn’t just reserved for the big girls. For years growing up, I heard my share of “too skinny”, “midget”, “shrimp”, or “runt”, insults that may seem trivial, but for a young child, are devastating. Being teased for your size–whether large or small–isn’t easy. And sometimes, it takes people years to learn how to forget the negative comments, let go of the pain, and learn to love the varying appearances of their bodies.

Maybe it’s due to the insults I dealt with as a child, maybe it’s partly because of a close family member’s struggle with bulimia, but simply hearing the word “fat” triggers a physical response in me, and I cringe when people use such language to describe themselves or others. The term was viewed as another “F-word” by my mother while I was growing up, and to use such a term was to land oneself with a quick, corrective smack. Which is why, after having been recently called “fat-phobic”, I was a little shocked. Then offended. And infuriated. I had done nothing wrong, but instead was on the receiving end of (surprise!) bully tactics used by an overly sensitive individual to publicly humiliate another woman in front of her friends in order to further her own campaign (or elicit sympathy, I have no idea which).

Now let me share something: High blood pressure runs in my family. As does high cholesterol, alcoholism, and a host of other maladies exacerbated by weight gain. For me, packing extra pounds onto my small frame is a death sentence. So yes, I hope to stay slim, primarily for health reasons. I want to live long enough to get married, have children, then see those children raise little ones of their own while they play at my feet. So, if in fearing for myself 1) an unhealthy lifestyle, 2) diminished physical endurance, 3) compromised quality of life, and 4) a shortened lifespan makes me “fat phobic,” then this girl is guilty as charged. I guess I fear fat in the same way I fear heart disease, which happens to be the #1 killer of Americans. (For the record, however, I prefer “healthy-striving” over “fat phobic”. And it’s up to me to decide what that looks and feels like.)

So, to the ladies that are:

“Too” full-figured: You ARE beautiful, we agree. But you are not more authentically a woman simply for having curves. Those with a smaller cup size or less of an ability to fill out the butt in their jeans are not lesser women, and you are not more woman because of your ability to do so. Be careful that while you’re on a “Fat Acceptance” crusade, you are not simultaneously insulting the slimmer women among you. They could very well have similar weight-related insecurities.

“Too” Skinny: Contrary to what you may read or see, there are plenty of “real” women that don’t have curves. Don’t let society tell you you need a breast augmentation or arse implants to measure up to your fuller figured female friends. And while your fitness updates may be well-intentioned, be aware that they do annoy some, and are perceived as self-serving. Use judgment and act accordingly. Oh, and never, ever, EVER criticize women who struggle with weight gain.

Shouldn’t the goal be to love your body, whatever its size, as long as you’re healthy? For different women, this means different things. Defining what “healthy” means to each of us personally is not wrong. But gloating about your own body type is in poor taste. Period.

End note:

Regarding the circulating Internet meme “It is not your life’s goal to lose weight” I counter “It is not your life’s goal to gain it.”  And to condescend upon another’s desire for physical fitness is inappropriate. Many women have gym memberships (I rarely use mine) and some of these women choose to share their workout distances and times on Facebook. While I prefer not to inform my friends every time I go for a swim, a hike, a ride, et al., those who do shouldn’t be shamed. Because being healthy is hard, no matter what size you are, and staying physically fit is even harder. I say, it’s OK to be proud of your efforts. Maybe your tenacity will inspire others to be more active. Striving for optimum physical health is quite a noble cause, don’t you think?

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7 thoughts on “This One’s For the Girls, Especially the Skinny Ones…

  1. Interesting blog post. I’m assuming that I am the “bully” and “overly sensitive individual” you are referring to, via a Facebook post in which I simply expressed an opinion, and you commented on, outing yourself as fat-phobic. (Which, by the way, this blog entry clearly also illuminates.) “I had done nothing wrong, but instead was on the receiving end of (surprise!) bully tactics used by an overly sensitive individual to publicly humiliate another woman in front of her friends in order to further her own campaign (or elicit sympathy, I have no idea which).”

    I don’t recall, however, publicly humiliating another woman in front of my friends. Are you referring to yourself? Can you elaborate? Also, how did I bully you?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Amy.

      Moving forward (considering we have been acquaintances for several years–I still have your number from great conversations about art history/writing from days past, crazy), I think private communication might be more appropriate/tactful, but I feel your earnest comment deserves a public response.

      To address your query, a public Facebook post stating, “I’m talking to you, Amber” was incredibly direct, unexpected, embarrassing, and, ultimately, hurtful. And a recent Twitter post stating “Such a noble, fat-phobic post by @Amber_Daley” seemed, rather than inquisitive, quite hostile.

      To be clear, my blog post was an attempt to share another side of the “fat acceptance” movement, one that is often overlooked. However, I do not condescend upon anyone, whatever weight they may be. Anyone that knows me well (or that read the post) will substantiate that.

      Amy, from the bottom of my heart, I’ve always seen you as a beautiful, accomplished woman, and, to be perfectly candid, was very surprised and saddened by the hostility I felt was directed at me, whether it was perceived or it was the reality. A commenter on the thread even personally reached out to me later, offering kind, reassuring words after I had expressed my hurt at the developments.

      That being said, I don’t have any hard feelings, despite the fact that I don’t think the situation was handled very fairly. But I’ve made unkind statements via social media (haven’t we all?), so let’s let bygones be bygones and move on with the amazing lives we’re both living.

      Congratulations on an enriching career with Treasure Valley Family (I’m very sorry to hear the publication is closing its doors) and what appears from your blog to be a fulfilling personal life. I’m happy that you have had the opportunity to work with such a great publication, and I know there are more great things to come for you, namely more personal and professional happiness. And to reiterate my previous apology, I’m again sorry that your feelings were hurt by anything I said or did. I would be happy to speak with you in private. I still remember the Moxie Java where we had our first art date, and I’d be happy to schedule another.

      Best,
      Amber

  2. Thanks for your response, Amber.

    I called you out on that Facebook post, as you had first “liked” a very negative, mean, personal comment someone else made, in which the commenter called me names and was very, very inappropriate. (Don’t forget that ‘likes’ can be as damaging as comments on Facebook.) I’m quite surprised that you seem to have done no research/reading on the Fat Acceptance or Health at Every Size movements before writing this blog post, as I know you to be an excellent, competent writer. (By the way, thin privilege is very real, and is something else you should probably google.)

    As you mentioned above, we have been acquaintances in real life for some time, and I, too, hope your life continues to be as amazing, as you said. Best of luck with your career at Balihoo and future endeavors.

    Amy

    1. Amy,

      I don’t recall clicking the like button on a “negative, mean, personal comment”, but rather one that seemed more of a suggestion of sensitivity, which I felt to be the case. I spend much of my time connected to Facebook, and sometimes neglect to closely examine each and every word in posts and comments (especially when there is a “click to read more” button associated with a comment).

      But as I mentioned before, we are all allowed our safe zones and corresponding sensitivities, even in the wild wild west of the internet. You are allowed to feel offended and react accordingly, just as I have freedom to defend myself against unkind comments and accusations. You may also recall my apology for any hurt feelings you may have had and still seem to be harboring. For the record, that still stands. That being said, I wish you the best. I am (still) available for a non-digital conversation, if you would like to communicate further.

      Amber

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