NOTE: Everything written below is my opinion, I haven’t even scratched the surface of this issue, and it is much more complex than I can convey in this article, yet I felt a need to say my piece. I have no doubt I will attract criticism, and I’m sure not everyone will agree with everything I have to say…. and I’m prepared for that… but I’m saying it anyway. The article is long I know, but I think it’s worth taking the time to read to the end, go grab a cuppa….
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m a woman. Yet according to some – I’m not a ‘Real Woman’, because I’ve been thin and ‘uncurvy’ most of my life, and ‘Real Women Have Curves’, right?
Tell me something people? What the hell is the definition of a ‘Real Woman’ anyway? As far as I can tell, you are either a women, or you are not.
Whether you are tall, short, big, small, black, white, brown, pink, whether you have big breasts, small breasts, or no breasts at all, whether you are gay, straight or transgender – if you identify yourself as a women – then that, my friends, is EXACTLY what you are. And if you are healthy, happy and kind to others – then I’ll have you know you are BEAUTIFUL as well.
I am sick to death of ALL body shaming, especially by other women. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Generations of women before of us, suffered, and struggled, and died to give us the rights and POWER we have over our lives as women today, and even if we still have a way to go in that regard – let’s not dishonour those women, by using the independence, and power of free speech we have today to attack, and criticize each other.
We women have enough of a battle on our hands, with big industry, politics, religions, and misogynistic men chipping away at our self esteem, without fighting a war amongst ourselves.
‘The battle for self-worth’. It has become ‘Us versus Them’, curvy against skinny, women against women. Are we all going to stand back and let this carry on? Let another generation of young women fail to attain the feelings of self worth that they all deserve? Really?
Because I have been a size 6-8 since I was a teenager, I am considered by some to be ‘less than a woman’. Skeletor, stick insect, coat hanger, bony, boyish, pancake boobs, and yes – anorexic, and bulimic – I’ve been called all of these things and believe me, as a teenager especially, those words hurt. I have never had an eating disorder, but I have spent much of my life believing I wasn’t womanly, that I was gangly and ugly, and that I looked like a teenage boy, but I’ve decided I need to let those feelings go, and love myself. I am who I am – and I’m sick of being judged for the way my body naturally is, and seeing others being judged in the same way.
I’ve seen several comments on social media lately that have really touched a nerve with me. You see, I have always been a strong advocate for women standing up to the media and big industries, and pushing for more diverse role models for our young girls – well that’s what I thought it was about – I thought the message was about embracing and encouraging diversity. But it seems we have gone astray, and now the pendulum is swinging the other way – it’s seeming to be more and more about the majority (‘real women’), putting down anyone deemed to be ‘too skinny’ or ‘too plastic’ etc. And with that has come a backlash, particularly on skinny women. Suddenly, it’s common to see quotes like ‘ Real men like curves, only dogs go for bones’, ‘Curvy is the new skinny’, Strong is the new skinny’. I ask you, how is denigrating skinny women going to uplift bigger women? And before anyone points it out, I realise this is a two way street – I know that many skinny women have been the source of hurt and heartache to women bigger than them – and am just as disgusted with that form of body shaming as any.
Skinny women, who may be perfectly healthy, are nowadays faced with stares and whispers of ‘Anorexic’, or are accused of ‘not eating’, or told to ‘eat some more pies’ in nasty scornful ways. I remember always wearing long sleeve tops even in the middle of Summer to cover my ‘bony elbows, and tiny wrists’ to avoid those stares. Somehow we skinny ladies have come to represent those who make bigger women feel bad about themselves, so we are now the target of all the hurt, and angry feelings of low self-worth that so many women have carried through their lives.
And what if that ‘skinny bitch’ that you’re cursing actually does have an eating disorder?
Since when did a woman, who has an eating disorder, become worthy of scorn?? Body shaming is part of the reason women and girls struggle with this awful mental health disorder in the first place. How does using terms like ‘skinny bitch’, ‘stick-insect’, and even ‘anorexic’ as a put-down, help anyone, let alone the women and girls who are struggling with this awful disease. Having an eating disorder doesn’t mean you’re not a ‘real woman’, and it should be met with sympathy and support, not jokes and scorn.
At the end of the day, most women have body image issues, it’s not just about weight bigotry, I have used that issue to make a point. Judging other women’s bodies is not going to make you feel better about your own self-esteem issues – that healing has to come from within. I just wish we all realised we are more than just our bodies, we are worth more than just being looked at and deemed worthy, or not good enough.
When we as women can learn to love ourselves first, and also love other women no matter their shape or size, then we might start to make some headway towards a better place for all the young girls who will come after us. Promote health, and kindness, and boycott body shaming – ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say anything at all’!
Let the new standard of beauty we uphold ourselves to be happiness, health and kindness. Who’s with me? Will you take the pledge below (bottom of the page)? The pledge is from the Rosewood Ranch, an Eating Disorder Treatment Centre in Arizona- but I think it can be used by everyone, not just those suffering with an eating disorder. Share it, post it on your wall on facebook, print it out and pin it somewhere in your home, encourage girls, and women you know to take the pledge as well – and while you’re at it, why not get the men in your life to do it as well?!
Two great articles on this issue you should read:
– ‘What happens when the pursuits of ‘skinny’ and ‘strong’ collide’, from Fit and Feminist.
– ’10 Ways we body shame each other, without knowing’, by Ragen Chastain