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