Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thin Bashing... It's a thing.

Unless you like other dudes, I guess.

What I'm about to write is going to make many folks feel instantly pissed, but...you know...Riot and all.

CAN WE STOP MAKING FUN OF THIN PEOPLE?!

I know... I know... You're thinking, What the f*ck is this guy talking about?! Make fun of thin people?! The media loves them! Everyone loves them! It's fat people that get made fun of! And, here's the thing, folks, plain and simple:

Everyone gets made fun of. Everyone gets marginalized. Sociologists - people that study whole groups of people - like to use the metaphor of a pendulum when describing group think. The pendulum will swing to an incredibly conservative group mindset before swing back to the middle and then all the way to the liberal/left side. We idolize electronic music and then long for acoustic. We adore iPhones and then jump to Samsung. Or...not. 

But there's this thing that's been happening on Facebook and Twitter and all other forms of social media for a few years now, and it's this glorification of big alongside the marginalization of small. A sampling from my Facebook feed in the last hour...Ahem:








The notion in these memes seems to be that there is something called a 'Real Woman' and that there are people with vaginas who are something else. "Real women" are thick and curvy and fleshy and have tummies and stretch marks and couldn't possibly fit into anything below a size 14 and are what people called 'Real Men' want. 

The message seems to be that if you're thin, you're unattractive. Please don't say it's not, because that is, nearly verbatim, the message of 5 of the 7 aforepictured memes, and it's intimated by the other 2. There are "real women" and then there are "bones", things only dogs could love. 

And, I get it. I do. For years - especially in the early to late 90s - the waif look was all the rage in fashion. (Made famous during this era by supermodel Kate Moss)


Overly thin models, so thin you could count their ribs and very nearly see their blood pump throughout their body, were the rage during that decade. But, a funny thing has happened in the last 10+ years...that pendulum has swung back. Larger women are frequently appearing on runways, some even reaching supermodel status. (Looking at you, Crystal Renn.)


Women like Christina Hendricks are frequently listed at the top of World's Most Beautiful Women lists:

This image actually came from one of those lists.
A size 14 model won America's Next Top Model's season 10. Meet Whitney Thompson, a supermodel every designer wants to work with:


Folks... I can do this all day. Models. Actresses. Spokeswomen. They're not just size zeros anymore. In fact, many designers will not allow models under a size 2 to represent them these days, because they don't want to send the message of being too skinny.

And, then, on the flipside are petite girls, or naturally thin girls, who are a size zero not because of starvation or bulimia or some other eating disorder, but because of genetics. These girls are also being told that only dogs could possibly love them. That they need to eat a cheeseburger. 

And this is where I have a problem. 'Need to eat a cheeseburger'. Put some meat on their bones, as folks near my hometown would say. 

I grew up being very thin. I exercised regularly and ate as though every meal were my last, but I remained incredibly thin. When I graduated high school, I was 6' 6" and only 150 pounds. In case you can't do that height/weight math...that meant I was skin, bones, and little else. I would love to have had meat on my bones. But, at that time, it just wasn't going to happen for me. 

I remember working as a cashier at a large chain big box store. Stores like that invite customers who feel they can say whatever they want to you, as though you signed up to hear their opinion. Once I was ringing up this woman and she was telling her young daughter how she thought my appearance was disgusting, that I should not be allowed to work with the public, because eating disorders shouldn't be glorified...this went on a while. I kept my mouth shut, because if I pissed her off and she complained, I probably would have been fired. Retail employees, as you know, have the right and requirement to shut their mouths and take whatever the public dishes out.

I was made fun of by my school peers for my weight. Became quite despondent over my appearance. I would never be seen with my shirt off in public under any circumstance. As much as I loved swimming, I wouldn't go because I didn't want people looking at my very ugly body. 

So, believe me people who are made fun of because of their size, I feel you. It happens on the other end of the spectrum. And, I get it, that when you've been marginalized and made fun of for being big, it's cathartic to post pictures and make fun of people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum. It makes you feel better to, in your private groups and social networks where you get to hide behind screen names and cartoon avatars, belittle people who don't look like you. 

I'd like us to get to a point where we're not pointing out how thin or thick someone is, but celebrating beauty. 

There was this meme going around a few years ago, when these thin bashing memes first began, comparing a beautiful television cook named Nigella Lawson - a woman who loves butter and dairy and all things thick and comforting - to a woman named Gillian McKeith - an advocate of exercise and a vegetarian diet. The meme looked a lot like this:


For all intents and purposes, this meme says that diet, exercise, and healthy living makes you ugly and that you should eat all the fat and junk you want because that makes you pretty. Folks, there are pretty pictures and not so pretty pictures and downright bad pictures of each and every one of us. What if I said that this was also Gillian McKeith:


And this is also Nigella Lawson:


Things are a little different when you're not all dolled up and posing in just the right way. But, both women are beautiful. Everyone has the right to feel beautiful. And, I'm not trying to put Ms. Lawson down in any way, but I am saying that she has her off days like we all do. We're all people. And, without photoshop and good lighting, those models - thick and thin - wouldn't be so Super.

Think before you post your next beauty glorifying meme, however thick or thin you lean.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

21 comments:

  1. I think the reason these memes praising big women are more out here now is directly related to the beauty industry telling women how they should or should not look. Fat or thin women are told daily, almost hourly that they do not fit in w/o this product or that product. While I do agree that we shouldn't be slamming thing people, I also think that we should directly address ad campaigns that seek out to destroy the self image of those who do not buy their product. Check out "Killing Us Softly". This shows how the media completely attacks the self esteem of women via advertising. Further, speaking as a plus size women, anything that I can do to help other women feel good .. I think I'd probably do.

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  2. THANK YOU!!!! lol I am so SICK of my whole family posting these thin-bashing memes! How about let's not bash sizes at all? Why can't we celebrate health instead? I'm a *tiny* bit of technically overweight, my body fat % is a little over where it should be, it's not my be-all and end-all but I am reducing it, however I have family and friends flipping their shit that I shouldn't try to be "too skinny." I am in NO danger of that, but these memes are telling them that if you're not a little chunky, you're "bones" and I (for the ones not too sensitive about it) point out on the "bones are for dogs, real men want MEAT" ones, that "fat" is also NOT "meat."

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  3. Thank you for posting this, Firelyte. I have always been thin (nowadays I have a regular body - not thin, not curvy) and I have always been bullied even in my family (with their best intention, that's it). One of the worst memes I've seen is the one saying, "Bones are for dogs, men like curves". People just don't think before speaking, this is the truth, they don't put themselves in other pewople's place. The same thing happens the other way round, of course, with people being awfully rude towards curvy or fat women. It's disgusting just the same.

    What we should always remember is if someone needs to praise whatever body type by mocking another one, this someone is an asshole. Period.

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  4. Thank you, as a thin and fit woman I deal with thin bashing often. Look deeper my friends, there is so much more inside!! :) I heart you Fire, you are beautiful. ~Crafty Woman

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  5. Thank you SO MUCH for this!!!!!!

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  6. It is not thin women that are a problem or even women who are not. It is the industry that tries to say that size Zero is a legitimate size for a woman when there is no comparable scale for men. Perhaps if women and men stopped letting a clothing manufacturer tell them what sexy is, they would discover and cultivate their own swxy.

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  7. I've gotten made fun of for or gotten rude comments for being naturally thin my whole life. Just happened with a group of friends last Friday night. Whenever I mention that I need to get back in shape (and I *am* out of shape), invariably I get the comment, "You don't need to lose any weight". I never said I did, I just want to put things back where they came from!

    Growing up (and still living in) thin, red-headed (with freckles!), and (for the area) a little taller in a predominately Hispanic area (southern New Mexico), I got teased mercilessly. I've just in the last few years have become comfortable in my skin.

    We've become fair game and it's perceived as though, because we're naturally thin, that we have no feelings to get hurt when we're teased about it. It hurts.

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  8. There was an episode of a show presented by Richard Hammond a few years ago that went over similar things. An holistic fitness guru asked Mr. Hammond to choose who was more fit out of two images. He chose the thinner model (both were clients of said guru) with what is more classically put on the covers of fitness magazines; while the other looked healthy, but stocky (not fat, but solid). The guru told Mr. Hammond that it was the stockier person because she was a professional athlete and trained her entire body every day; the "classically fit" woman only trained the parts that would make her more pleasing aesthetically. Every person is different.

    We all have body issues. I still don't wear shorts or go swimming in public.

    Teresa Seifert

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  9. Great post - I think you nailed it by pointing out the idea of "real women" - like there's some template out there or something. Perhaps people need to start re-training their thinking and move away from essentialist ideas about humans

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  10. Siggggghhhhhhhh….. What a great article and so much research went into it. I applaud you for taking the time.

    I’m sighing because, well, it needs said in so many different ways and it is a never ending bunch of hooey – this thin bashing and I dare say, in the “fitness” world this “strong is the new skinny” crap, which amounts to a bunch of carb depletion, water loading, shredding and let us not forget some Photoshop. No one seems immune to it these days.

    Trying to be brief and taking it one step at a time. I said it on FB the other day too. Being 50 pounds overweight is not being “curvy”. Yet, in that pendulum swing, now apparently is the time when it is more acceptable to be that and thin bash than to be thin and fat bash. Both are wrong, yes, but the hilarity of thin bashing is that people have actually taken it to a point to where they talk about it as if you must be this way to be a “real” woman. To me, none of those pictures is out of kilter with a real woman’s body, even the thin ones. They are ALL real women.

    When Dove was doing their ridiculous campaign about loving your body and had the comparisons with the VS models in the same pose everyone started talking about “real” women. So, those VS models are what? Holograms? Why was it ridiculous? Because do you really think those women in the Dove ad were not dolled up, make-up done, duct taped AND Photoshopped? JUST LIKE the VS models. Plllleeeeaasseee...

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  11. Thank you for this! I've been naturally thin my whole life. I eat like a pig but just don't gain weight. Total strangers have asked me questions like "don't you ever eat?" and even straight out "are you anorexic?" Once when I was in a training class the girl next to me who was considerably overweight felt the need to announce that "men don't like skinny women" then turned to me with a smirk and said "oh no offense." I've never understood why people think its ok to talk to thin people this way as if we have no feelings. I in no way think that we have a right to make fun of overweight people, but if someone does they never live it down. I think it should go both ways. I am so sick of it being ok to ask if I ever eat, what would they do if I answered "Do you ever stop?" I would be fat bashing and neither is right. Both are hurtful and cause just as much self esteem problems as the other. Skinny women ARE real women just as much as overweight women are. I agree the message needs to get across not to starve yourself but not at the expense of other people.

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  12. Thank you so much. I've felt like I've just been uninvited to this celebrate beauty movement because I'm not curvy or exotic or beautiful in a peculiar way (which has always been stunning btw it isn't news) because I'm 5'2 110 lbs. With blonde hair and typical attractive face. This isn't a movement made to celebrate all beauty. It's a movement to exclude it. Thank you for writting this.

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  13. My gf is super thin (5'-1", 85 lbs) but perfectly healthy and eats completely normally. She doesn't even describe herself as thin, just "a bit slim". Sometimes I see more full-figured women, at parties or whatever, being very catty about her and making fun of it. It's totally undeserved as she is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. And she is not bony-looking at all, just coltish and lean. I truly don't get it. I don't want a full-figured girl, ever, period -- I really have no attraction at all to that for the most part.

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  14. Wow I love your article it is exactly what I feel. I was having a regular medical checkup and had to get my height measured (173 cm) and weight taken (57.5 kg with clothes and shoes on, so in reality 56 kg). I have always been proud of my diminutive figure. In fact I think I am not quite slender enough and I aim to get down to 50 kg but I am happy as I can wear large kids clothing if I choose too. The lady conducting the checkup was lovely but she was biased in regards to what is under weight. Some uncharitable people would say that she was fat if not obese. I had no problem with her size but she seemed to have some concerns about my petite frame as she said I was underweight. It got me thinking that in this day and age no one is allowed to comment on someone being overweight or to use the ‘f’ word (read: fat) (which I totally agree with) yet it is open slather when it comes to saying that a person is (supposedly) underweight or to using the ‘s’ word (read: skinny). There is no way that I am going to change the size I am as I was born this way as I take after my mother. It is not like I don’t eat in order to be thin, in fact I have a big appetite and I do not put on weight. I guess I am lucky like that. If I was to take the nurse’s advice and try and become bigger I would be insulting all those people who spend hours dieting, measuring their waists with tape measures, and exercising their asses off in order to achieve their dreams of possessing a svelte body. Any one of those people would quite rightly say we would do anything to have a body the size of yours and there you are abusing it by purposely putting on weight. Slender people have to put up with a lot of jealousy from those who secretly yearn to be petite. Just because some hip bone, collar bone, or rib bones are visible doesn’t mean that one is anorexic. Skinnyism is a new type of prejudice that petite people experience

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  15. I would just like to say I love being slender. While I get people saying eat more etc I also get a lot of appreciation from both men and women who love to run their hands over my flat and firm tummy. I urge all slender people to embrace their size and rejoice.

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  16. Now it's a different kind of culture. We are foodies, we don't smoke cigarettes, we let ourselves be chubbier. It's healthy and sexy. But back in the 80s and 90s it was "you can't be too rich or too thin". It was Olivia Newton John and Charlies Angels and disco and I miss that sometimes, it was glamorous and elegant.

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  17. Almost 100 years ago a woman said "a woman can never be too rich or too thin". The majority of the world agrees with her. Still. And I can not see any change to that attitude. On the contrary. As "fat bashing" is "ugly", they are now bashing fat by calling it "being concerned about people's health". And that cannot possibly be "ugly", on the contrary, they are CONCERNED about your HEALTH!
    With other words, an overweight person, especially a woman, cannot possibly be healthy. She is by definition sick, and she has MADE herself sick, SHE COULD EASILY CHANGE, it's just a question of eating habits and exercise!
    Oh, yeah? What about Lipoedema?

    Of course it is not right to bash anyone. It doesn't matter if you look the way you look because of your lifestyle, habits, genetics or what ever.
    But - if you compare the thin bashing with the thick bashing, you will lose. It's like comparing racism against white people with racism against black people.
    I have yet to see "you are so ugly! Go and kill yourself!" said to a thin person. I have personally experienced it said to a fat person - me.

    My mother sighed and said it's such a pity my niece inherited her great-grandmothers fat, and her brother is so tall and thin. "She has such a pretty face, but..."

    The first image about Marilyn being beautiful and sexy and feminine even when she wasn't photoshopped to perfection is in your mind "thin bashing" and "making fun of thin people"... Huh?
    Come back with this when you have actually been bashed because you are thin. When someone says "she should go eat a cheeseburger" it's not thin bashing or making fun of thin people. When someone says "no, it's not that obesity runs in your family, it's that NO-ONE runs in your family!", that's bashing and making fun of people. That's ridiculing people.

    now, I agree with you about "real" women and "real" men, as if there were real people and fake people. But that's about all.

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  18. I don't know why people think body shaming of any kind is acceptable. It's ignorant, rude, & just unecessary. Thin girls have feelings & insecurities, too. Just like anyone else.
    -Bones are for dogs.
    -Real women have curves.
    -Who wants to fuck a skeleton?
    -Etc., etc., etc....

    What really irks me is that if it were reversed, & skinny women said the opposite criticizing thick women, people would flip out & have a fit about how wrong it is. It's a hypocritical & gross double standard.

    The truth is there's someone out there for all types; some guys like thinner girls, & some like bigger girls. There's no reason to put either down, or make inconsiderate comparisons. Neither type is better or worse than the other, just different. Thank god we're not all the same!

    I happen to like my tiny little frame, & if you don't...well, then just don't look. I don't really care either way.
    Just think about what you're saying before you say it. Would you want someone saying something similar about you? Kindness & consideration for one another is always in style.
    It takes all kinds & all sizes of asses to fill a stadium!

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  19. I've been on both sides of the fence. As a teen I was not obese but chunky. Criticism came mostly from my mother who believed in "perfection". I embarrassed her, was constantly compared to other,thinner friends, relatives. I got the message. At a time when no one knew what it was, I became anorexic /bulimic. Fortunately I survived that & it's many years later. I am small-4'11, small frame, weigh between 91-95 lbs & was able to buy clothes anywhere. I was a size 3 jr. petite, size 5 shoe. Going shopping now is a nightmare. Double 0 is my size in pants now!! Vanity sizes have taken over. I discovered this after not buying clothes for quite some time-was not working at the,time, taking care of my mom. After she passed away & a h.s. reunion came up I was looking forward to buying new clothes for the occasion. After combing a large mall from one end to the other I came up w/ONE blouse! I luckily found a couple more things at a nearby store or I wouldn't have been able to go. Now, any time I find something that really fits & looks good I am truly happy. Most shoes start at size 6 now. Payless has good selection of 5'some & I called & complimented them on that. Yes, there are men also who complain that shirts are now cut for larger size men & if you are small it's harder to find clothes. I doubt Vanity sizing will go away soon but I could never have dreamed this would be happening back when I used to clothes shop in dept. & specialty stores & have no problem finding beautiful things. There are still "normal" petite size women out there who need to buy clothes also!

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  20. I've been on both sides of the fence. As a teen I was not obese but chunky. Criticism came mostly from my mother who believed in "perfection". I embarrassed her, was constantly compared to other,thinner friends, relatives. I got the message. At a time when no one knew what it was, I became anorexic /bulimic. Fortunately I survived that & it's many years later. I am small-4'11, small frame, weigh between 91-95 lbs & was able to buy clothes anywhere. I was a size 3 jr. petite, size 5 shoe. Going shopping now is a nightmare. Double 0 is my size in pants now!! Vanity sizes have taken over. I discovered this after not buying clothes for quite some time-was not working at the,time, taking care of my mom. After she passed away & a h.s. reunion came up I was looking forward to buying new clothes for the occasion. After combing a large mall from one end to the other I came up w/ONE blouse! I luckily found a couple more things at a nearby store or I wouldn't have been able to go. Now, any time I find something that really fits & looks good I am truly happy. Most shoes start at size 6 now. Payless has good selection of 5'some & I called & complimented them on that. Yes, there are men also who complain that shirts are now cut for larger size men & if you are small it's harder to find clothes. I doubt Vanity sizing will go away soon but I could never have dreamed this would be happening back when I used to clothes shop in dept. & specialty stores & have no problem finding beautiful things. There are still "normal" petite size women out there who need to buy clothes also!

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  21. "Bones are for dogs, men like curves"
    After reading that,I was hurt.
    I didn't just choose to be skinny,it's natural.
    Whats even worse, A slightly larger woman gave me and my younger sister(who was 14 at the time) a look and scoff telling us"We need to eat." The fact we were at Mc D's made it worse.
    Skinny people have problems too,We just get told to shut up about them.

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