We all know that fat-shaming is disgusting and unacceptable, but what about skinny-shaming? Most people are surprised when I tell them how harmful it is to be told that I’m “too thin.” Here’s why it’s just as worthy of condemnation as fat-shaming.
No one likes being objectified.
No matter how confident a person is in his or her body, it’s very uncomfortable to be singled out for your appearance. Whenever you judge a person on their body, you’re instantly reducing them to something superficial and robbing them of their individuality. Regardless of whether the person is overweight or underweight in your eyes, objectifying them is never OK.
It’s not a “compliment.”
I’m so sick of people telling me that I should be grateful when someone skinny shames me, as if the fact that I’m skinny makes me immune to criticism. Making someone feel like they’re irresponsible or inadequate because of their weight is not a compliment.
How do you expect a person to respond when you make unwanted comments about his or her weight? If I had a penny for every time someone told me to eat a cheeseburger I could have retired at 25, but I still haven’t found an answer that feels appropriate. Usually I’m just so uncomfortable that I awkwardly stutter and wait for the person to lose interest and leave me alone. It’s one of the least pleasant experiences you can inflict on someone.
It makes me insecure about my body when I wasn’t before.
I was shocked the first time someone skinny-shamed me. I was always really confident in my body, mostly because I didn’t think about it much or stress about how I looked. But when I heard someone telling me that I was “too skinny,” it made me second guess all the times I looked in the mirror and felt confident.
I have nothing to do with my genetics.
If you have a problem with my weight, consider this: I happen to have very thin parents who passed their genes to me. This was not something I engineered in myself or purchased or asked for. Making me feel ashamed for something I have absolutely no control over is absurd and offensive.
No one deserves to be shamed for how they look.
Everyone has their own ideas about what’s healthy and what isn’t, but that’s between you and yourself (and perhaps your doctor). Your standards shouldn’t be imposed on anyone regardless of how far they deviate from you. No one should be made to feel inferior because of their bodies. Everyone deserves to live in whatever way they wish, as long as it isn’t hurting anyone else. Just because you don’t like that someone is thin doesn’t mean you have any right to make them feel bad about it.
It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong.
No matter what your weight, you’re not “wrong.” Whenever someone skinny-shames me, I automatically feel guilty, as if there’s something about me that is fundamentally offensive to the rest of the world. Being told that my body isn’t good enough gives me a sense of shame that robs me of my ability to simply live my life and not worry about what I weigh or how I look.
It accomplishes nothing.
What exactly do you expect to accomplish by making someone feel bad about his or her weight? Do you think they’re going to rush home and start conforming to whatever standard you have for them? There is no positive outcome when you criticize someone for their weight, which means that all you’re doing is bringing more negativity into the world. I think we can all agree that there’s plenty of that without you contributing to it.
Can’t we just support each other instead of bringing each other down?
Life is short. Why would you choose to spend your time making people feel bad about themselves when you could just find the things about them that you appreciate and single them out? And if you really can’t find anything good to comment on, don’t say anything at all. Sometimes silence is another form of kindness.
My weight is not a reflection of my worth.
Even if skinniness equaled “good” and fatness equaled “bad” (which they absolutely don’t), I would still be extremely offended by anyone basing their opinion of my worth on my weight. What I weigh is a tiny fraction of who I am, and anyone who thinks it’s a legitimate way to evaluate a person vastly underestimates the subtleties and complexities within each of us.
You never know what’s behind a person’s weight.
Weight is tied to so many deep factors within a person. When you comment on a thin person’s weight, you have absolutely no idea why they are that way. For all you know, they might be in recovery from an eating disorder and be completely thrown off their positive trajectory by your comment. They might not have enough money to buy food. Or maybe they’re just skinny. Regardless of the reason, other people’s weight is none of your business, and your opinion is irrelevant at best and extremely harmful at worst.
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