…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.
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.
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?