No One Wants a Bone: The Other Side of Body Shaming

BODY SHAMING SKINNY GIRLS

“Eat more!” “Why are you so thin??” “Real men want meat not bones!”

I’ve grown up hearing all those comments and then some as a naturally petite girl. In a family full of curvy women I always felt completely out of place because of my frame. Regardless of the fact that mainstream lauded women with my figure while ignoring and demonizing women who were shapely, I felt the pressure of my immediate circle more than the rest of the world.

When body-shaming is addressed rarely does it involve those who are considered skinny/thin. Although we are the societal norm, those of us who fall in certain racial/ethnic groups feel the need to appear more “womanly” aka “curvy” to be seen as sexy and desirable.


I brought this topic up a few weeks ago on twitter and for over an hour, women who had been shamed for being thin spoke up on their own experiences. My initial tweet that sparked the discussion mentioned seeing young women fall into a depression due to people spreading false rumours of eating disorders about them because of their frame. Soon my twitter mention feed was full of women sharing similar stories, with one young woman bravely sharing that for years she ate everything in sight in desperate hope of “filling out in the right places.”

What shamers fail to realize is that regardless of your size, you are bound to find at least one person who finds your preference anything but desirable. Love curvy, full figured types? I’m sure there’s someone who has something negative to say about them. Prefer the slimmer bodies? I’d bet my hair conditioner budget that there are those out there who find those sickening — in the bad sense.

The issue lies in building one preference as superior to another. When memes are circulated telling a woman no one will want her because her body is considered a “dry bone” it reinforces the notion that one body type is the proper default and all others should be rejected for being “abnormal.” This is the very same thought process that is used to shame millions of women in this country for not being a size 6 and below.

I’ll never claim that thin women have it as bad as full figured women in this society, but I will say in our communities it can be hard to feel like a woman when you are told you do not fit the mold as to what a woman “should” look like. I cannot change this body and put curves and lusciousness where people say it should be. What I can do is continue loving the body and skin I’m in, and checking people’s ignorance when they try to make me believe anything less than what I feel about myself.

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Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val.

8 Comments

  1. Though my frame is pretty average, I am neither thin, or think, I can testify that skinny girls aren’t the most desired women in the black community. More men want the Nicki Minajs and Melyssa Fords of the world than the Chanel Iman s or Michelle Williams.’ I have a niece who is so uptight about her body right now. Like any teenage girl (16) she likes boys but finds that many of them don’t like her because she is quite thin and flat chested. I tell her one day she will meet just the right boy and he will love that skinny frame of hers.

    More power to you skinny chicks though, apparently 85% of the country is obese. Eventually you all might get all the men. LOL

  2. I always wanted to be thin and shapely versus round and curvy that escalated out of control to fat, up and down weight-loss and gain, so I envied thin and shapely or just thin, regardless of skinny jokes and comments. I took modeling classes as a teen and in leotards I wanted a model-like body like some of the other girls. I wanted to be able to eat as much as I wanted and not gain weight. Now as time has pasted, curvy is now obesity for so many, was me too and still more to lose. Skinny girls are still fly after a few kids and the extra twenty pounds just makes them look filled out. Not to put down curvy girls because whatever the aesthetic, it’s what is inside that matters because things happen beyond our control that can contribute to our weight. Being healthy is what is most important and loving one’s self!

  3. When I think of curves I think of bodies like Beyonce, Nikki, Toni, Phaedra Parks, etc. Some women claim to be curvey and are really overweight, obese, or borderline. So the next time someone makes you feel bad for being thin consider the source. It you are confident in yourself then you will have no problem. Men will be men but at the end of the day it starts with you.

  4. I have been petite all of my life and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Yes, people throw negative comments at you (especially in the black community I laugh at most of them in their faces lol) but I have always been very beautiful and confident inside and out. My husband and daughter absolutely adore me and of course the men around me too that I meet on a regular basis due to my career field. But it’s all about how you feel about yourself from within that will attract a magnitude of people that find you loving and beautiful. My parents laid a great foundation of love and emotional support very early on for me and my brother and that worked wonders with helping us to face challenging situations and EVIL people head on(it’s just something about the foundation of love) I am a tiger lol! I currently work in the legal field and about to start law school and I model, act (extra roles in movies with angela Bassett & Nia Long etc., and have performed live on the Apollo Theater working in the entertainment field has definitely helped with being able to over look negative comments people make due to their own insecurities. My mother and I are about the smallest women in our family she is now a size 12 moving up from a 7/8 all her life and they still call her skinny (in my family)I say get a life I think for any woman over 60 size 12 is DANG on good according to the obesity percentage in our society. Love yourselves ladies because no one can do it like you do!

  5. @Realtalk I love everything you said. Particularly about how your parents helped you deal with mean people. I sometimes feel helpless whenever my kids have a run in with another kid. I basically tell them it’s nothing wrong with them, that people are mean sometimes and ignore it. That they are great and I love them. I am glad to hear that the emotional support your parents gave you and your brother helped you in the long run. It’s make me feel like my husband and I are doing something right! You just made my day!

  6. Great article Valerie; I love the topic! You wrote, ” …I will say in our communities it can be hard to feel like a woman when you are told you do not fit the mold as to what a woman “should” look like.” Absolutely LOVE this line…100 percent truth.

    I’ve always been skinny (like junior pants sizes 3-4 or 5-6 depending on the brand) and growing up people seemed to always point this out to me as if being skinny was something I wasn’t aware of. “OMG you are SO skinny,” like 1) I’m the skinniest person on earth and 2) as if I needed (or asked) them to state the obvious. It was definitely annoying and weighed on my self-esteem at times, especially when you do hear that most guys just want the thick girls.

    The fact that guys seemed to give “passes” for certain skinny women also annoyed me. You couldn’t be tall and skinny; that’s def a turn off. But then they’d praise these bone-thin models or celebs with no shape. And it also seemed like if a girl was short/small and skinny (Jada Pinkett-Smith types)that was more acceptable than an average height or very tall, thin woman.

    Although others influenced my perspective on being skinny at one point, I grew up and really embraced the fact that my body is not an apology; it’s a masterpiece. And if God is perfectly happy with how He made me (and He is) then who is anyone else (including me) to question His work?

    I’d notice more and more skinny African American girls who exuded confidence and embraced their small frames and loved it. That also helped me do the same. Plus, it wasn’t like guys didn’t like me, so the notion that you have to be XYZ to get a man is false. I’ve learned that men will like who they like, regardless of body type (unless you run into immaturity). No intelligent, real man is going to pass on a great woman because she doesn’t have a big butt or thick thighs because a real man knows her value isn’t in her body.

    Thanks again for touching on such a great topic Valerie!

  7. @ Blacksista thank you! Keep doing what you are doing! The Bible states in I Corinthians 13 Love is one of the greatest gifts!

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