Today I saw this post come up on my Facebook timeline and I have some thoughts about it.
The last time I was skinny was when I was a 13 year old who ate terribly but had a high metabolism. Now, I am a 21 year old who eats healthily – if not a bit too much – and exercises, and I have a decent metabolism. My BMI is healthy, but my weight and self-love yo-yo’s constantly, as I battle between accepting my love of food and feeling the pressure that I cannot get thin enough.
It is clear to me that, due to how society is attempting to include curves into the narrative beauty standards once more, an overcompensation has been done and a lot of skinny-shaming has happened. Let me make it clear that I find this equally as disgusting as any other form of body-shaming. Promoting pride in all that you are does not need to decrease the value of other people. And vice versa: another person’s beauty is not the absence of your own.
Still, seeing the post still bothers me. The lyrics in the song above are wrong. Anyone who talks like this is wrong. But to deny that skinny has been forced onto all corners of society as the ideal for the past few decades is naïve.
For as long as I have looked at other women, I have been sold the idea of a thin woman being the ideal. It is certainly not just me decoding this message. I know very few girls who have not had a period their life defined by one of the eating disorders. As most woman are not naturally thin, many have acquired various eating disorders and psychological issues associated with body image from being told that the way their body natural looks just does not suffice. There are even websites like Thinspiration that promote problematic eating habits to attain body standards that a minority of people naturally have.
In fact, even in Africa, where voluptuous bodies have traditionally seen as extremely desirable amongst black women, cases of anorexia have significantly increased.
How many people do you know that are on diets? Compare that to the amount of people you know who can eat anything and everything and are still very slim-looking. How often do you see books and articles that help people with their diets and weight-loss efforts? Compare that with the amount of books and articles that help people with high metabolisms gain weight.
I empathise with the people who are told that they need to eat, that they look starving, looked at with pity, reminded that ‘real women have curves’ and are asked if they are anorexic. Truly.
But the mentality of this posts reminds me a lot of the mentality that is attached with #AllLivesMatter. It assumes that there has not been a deep and profound history of one ‘type’ being significantly valued above the other. You do not have to research for very long before you realise that skinny has definitely been the higher beauty standard in the dominant voices of society.
Wider hips, fuller breasts and an increase in fat cells in various parts of the body often occur with the onset of puberty in a woman’s life. Often, but not always. That does not make the women any less womanly. Because attraction is such a subjective experience, I firmly believe that the people who are meant to be drawn to the physical attributes you have will be. I do not thing a body is doomed to be appreciated and loved by nobody forever. We definitely need to keep this in mind before we put a value on others’ bodies – as well as our own.
(Header image credit: myproana.com)