I’m using some material from the response I had to FaturdayNightLive’s post for this blog post… I think it’s important to start with a disclaimer that I had an empowering weekend with my hubby and we sent all three of our kids to hang out with my parents for a full 24 hours. We have an awesome time, just the two of us and I got a makeover complete with false eyelashes and I felt like a movie star. It was a good feeling that at least lasted until midnight when I had to take the eyelashes off to sleep.
Ok, back to the topic of skinny shaming and how it relates to fat shaming. I think that we all think that we think too much.
On a more serious note, I have a feeling that the majority of us plus-size ladies have battled with our weight and self-image for so long it becomes hard for us to emphasize with women who, to us, seem like they shouldn’t have a worry in the world. They after all have a cute figure, aren’t feeling shame every time they walk into a store only to walk out with nothing because nothing came in their size. I don’t think I’ve specifically skinny-shamed anyone, at least not out loud, outside my head. I know I have voiced my frustrations in my personal journal and will be using my blog as an outlet as well.
What happens is that skinny women think their body image is just as hard to accept as a plus size woman would accept their own body image. And that’s where the beef is because the majority of our society already accepts skinny, thin, what-have-you, bodies as that is what is considered already beautiful in our culture. A busty size 20 is not. There are a few (my hubby among them) that find women with more curves more attractive. That’s the battle we have, having to live/accept what society tells and how we feel about our own bodies at the same time, whether we are skinny or fat.
I don’t like bringing up race much, actually hardly ever, but the expectation to be thin and white is pervasive in our culture; beauty on the magazine covers are only proof that this stereotype is carried on generation after generation. I think another race that has it worse than Caucasian women are those of Asian descent, where it is expected of you to be petite, thin, young and often, submissive. My sister-in-laws are half Korean and we were talking about this not too long ago — this overwhelming expectation that they have to be tiny to be attractive. Their mother herself is 4’11” and barely 90 pounds and has the same figure now as when she met my hubby’s father.
Culture has such a huge impact on women, what it asks women to be in order to be attractive, pleasing to the eye and often, worthy of fashion. Of course, I think fashion has come a long way in just the past decade but we still have a long way to go when there are some of us that don’t wear the same size as the mannequin on display, we have real bodies that are all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s still not mainstream yet for plus-size clothing to be normal; that all sizes would be available instead of 0-10. Sometimes if you’re lucky, a store will have size 16 tops that are loose enough that a size 18 or 20 can still wear.
The plus size section is still minimal selection in many stores, whereas smaller sizes can find fashion easily in just about any store and have hardly any issues finding something in their size. Try going wedding dress shopping as a plus-size woman, and you’ll immediately see the huge disparity in fashion availability, even for the brides with a healthy dress budget. I was almost brought to tears when I was trying on dresses for my wedding and the gowns wouldn’t zip up for me to see the true fit.
I’ve been fat shamed so many times in my life, I’ve lost count. Whether it’s your own mother trying to get you to lose weight at 7 years old or that drunk boy during college spring break tell you at 19 there’s no way in hell he’d sleep with you because you’re fat, it hurts. Wishing every day that it would get easier somehow to not give in to cravings for whatever sounds good and then people telling you that it’s simple as will-power and exercising all day. The worse is when your own mother couldn’t tell you looked beautiful on your wedding day. Instead, she reminds you to keep your veil around your shoulders so that your fat arms are more covered.
After 33 years on this planet, I’m trying to find the balance of when do I accept myself, or will I just cave in to what society wants, what will make me feel more attractive — get that lipo, go for the lap-band surgery or staple the stomach, get a tummy tuck? Paint it over with some fancy make-up and put on pair of heels and classy outfit, and now the world will embrace you? If I do lose a bunch of weight, how will that change me as a person — will I be just as happy then as I am now? Is the grass truly greener on the other side?
So in the end, is the shaming just really our way of justifying that we either fit or don’t fit in? Do we hurl words at the other side, hoping that it will make us feel better about ourselves, when in the end we are just being adult bullies? Skinny or fat, we are just people. Imperfect people trying to fit this idea of what is perfect to society. It is unattainable, ever out of our grasp, yet we are desperate enough to berate other people to maybe for a moment, feel beautiful ourselves, to be above others.
Shaming others really accomplishes nothing but creating more shame in ourselves.