I recently read a fantastic article on Huffpost Women entitled ‘Stop making the thin girl ugly’ by blogger Jenni Chiu and felt compelled to add my thoughts, particularly after the Easter break when food and weight has been such a big topic.
In today’s increasingly narcissistic, paranoid society, derogatory comments about a person’s weight seem to be common place and it’s high time that more emphasis was put on body acceptance and healthy attitudes towards our appearance.
I have always been naturally slim, so have all the rest of the members of my family. As a child I spent a lot of time playing outdoors, I was involved in lots of different sports and was fed a healthy Mediterranean diet with the odd McDonald’s here and there. I used to be a competitive swimmer during my teenage years and went through a stage of eating lots of rubbish at university. I am not a gym fanatic, in fact I only recently started taking BodyBalance classes (a mixture of Yoga and Pilates) in order to become more socially active and balance my mind more than anything else – although I do feel much more flexible and can now get into a swan position without looking like I’ve broken a bone.
I wouldn’t define myself as skinny but growing up I was definitely viewed as a thin girl – the terms skinny and thin are often used derogatively; being described as slim seems to have far less negative connotations.
When I was seven years old I remember an older girl in my ballet class exclaiming how anorexic I was and laughing at me along with the other students who decided to join in – even though some of them were also skinny.
Of course, I also remember incidents at school when people made fun of the podgy kids and I guess you could brush all this off as immature childish antics, BUT the strange thing is, as I grew up I found that less people were inclined to comment on those with curves, yet thought it was ok to comment on those without.
One woman I once worked for commented, “You look so thin have you lost weight?” This was only a week after I had interviewed with her when I had been wearing a slightly more colourful outfit. Any fashionista knows that wearing all black can slimline the figure, but I wasn’t sure if she was trying to suggest that I had looked much bigger the week before. Quite why this woman who I barely knew felt the need to comment on my appearance I will never know.
Being Greek has subjected me to further skinny-bashing from unrelated relatives. Greeks are extremely fond of their food and will attempt to spread their gluttonous passion. On one of our annual family holidays to Greece, a completely random woman asked my father if we were too poor to eat as we were all so skinny. He replied that she must be very rich. For obvious reasons.
Greek relatives STILL ask me if I am a vegetarian. A person who is naturally slim is not considered normal and therefore must be a non-meat eater. While this is more of a cultural thing rather than a media-influenced topic, I still consider it to be unacceptable. In fact rarely have I heard any of my Greek relations comment on the more heavier-set of the family. It is considered impolite to do so.
I find it shocking how people feel that they can berate a thin person for being skinny and unhealthy but many wouldn’t dare comment on a fuller figured person. Presumptuous statements like “You obviously don’t eat that much” and “You must work out all the time” are so ignorant. I would never dream of saying to a curvier person “You clearly overeat and don’t work out”. What gives anybody the right to make an unjustified statement about a person’s appearance?
A woman once commented on my mother’s lithe figure telling her, “Oh you won’t look like that after you’ve had children”. In fact my mum had just given birth to my younger sister only a few months earlier and replied “Actually, I’ve had two”. Touche.
I am also not a fan of the term real woman – whatever that may be. A real woman is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin and is healthy and happy.
Having had some experience in the modelling industry I quite agree that it does favour a certain body type and this is not acceptable. However, while attitudes are changing and plus size models, for example, are now being lauded and praised, (and quite rightly so), naturally thin girls are facing a backlash.
I wrote my medical law dissertation on anorexia and it is a terribly controlling condition that is not helped by the diet-crazed fanatics and politically-correct health officials who are damaging young minds. At the same time, obesity is becoming a widespread problem fuelled by drink and junk food.
Personally, I think viewing images of people who have been surgically enhanced to such an extent that they no longer resemble a normal human being is just as damaging as the obese and anorexic extremes. I would rather see a healthy thin girl with a natural bust, or a fuller figured woman, or someone in between, than a fake Barbie doll with crazy proportions.
Rather than making assumptions about a persons lifestyle based on their body type, we should strive for body acceptance. We need to teach impressionable youngsters that whatever your size, being happy and healthy is the most important thing.