I am 300 percent for the body positivity movement, but sometimes uninformed people forget that body-pos is about celebrating all bodies, not just plus size ones. I hesitate writing this for fear of being dubbed the “skinny bitch,” because I am fully aware that thin privilege exists. I recognize that, in a lot of ways, I'm automatically more accepted in modern society (I can walk into a store and usually find my size, for example), but that doesn't mean I should just accept the backhanded compliments skinny women hear. A movement that celebrates all sizes should be just that, and I think body positivity still has a long way to go toward cultivating a cultural consciousness that has all-inclusive (not reverse exclusionary) standards of beauty.
I’d be lying if I said fitting into Western media’s standards of conventional “beauty” didn’t have its advantages in everything from Tinder to my workplace. But happening to be “media pretty” doesn't mean I'm free of my own insecurities that my body is the only reason I've landed that new job or promotion, or why the cute guy is giving a damn. The mold might be less outwardly cruel towards thinner people, but these comments can be just as hurtful for those that fall in it. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I constantly have to prove I’m more than my figure to be taken seriously, or that if I’m less bubbly one day people are automatically going to conclude I’m a self-absorbed bitch.
No matter your size, cutting someone down to feel better about yourself only reinforces the idea that there is a right way to look — something we’ve all let dominate the fashion and beauty world for too long. Let’s all stop polarizing each other because at the end of the day, we’re on the same beautiful, body positive team. Right?
Here are seven backhanded compliments skinny women are sick of hearing.
1. "You're lucky you're skinny."
This is a response I often hear after landing a new writing gig, and it pisses me off. First, I'm not "lucky" I'm thin. I personally feel my best and healthiest at the size that I am, and make conscious lifestyle choices to look this way. Second, this is exactly the kind of comment that reinforces the messed up thin privilege mentality and drives the insecurities of those fighting it. Telling someone they only achieved something because of their size or appearance isn't cool. Instead, just saying "congrats!" is a much niftier option. My general response: "Thanks for the nod, but I submit writing samples to get jobs — not a picture of myself."
2. "It must be fun to not need bras."
Real women have curves, for sure. But guess what? Real women can also have small boobs and bony hips, too! A real woman is any woman. Done.
3. "What does your boyfriend/girlfriend even grab?"
Another favorite. This goes back to the whole "real women have curves" thing. My boyfriend grabs my small tits and bony hips just fine, thanks.
4. "You're nothing but skin and bones."
While I want to say, "Actually, no, I have all these organs and cells and a deep meditative space inside of me," that wouldn't dig out the deeper issue with this comment. My body isn't on 24/7 display for comments and critiques, just like yours isn't either.
5. "Who would have thought there was such a big brain in there?!"
Ah, that's right — media standards tell you that by being classically pretty I must be stupid. How fun. I really do understand people mean well when they say this, but if a person, even a thin one, has a smart idea, saying something like, "Wow, great idea!" is a much less degrading word choice and helps fight stereotypes.
6. "You look like you could break."
While this isn't really a compliment, a lot of people often say it in a way that seems like they're trying to flatter you. I generally hear it when I'm carrying my groceries or hauling my laundry bag down the street. If you're offering to help me carry something, please just say that. Telling me I look like I could break makes me want to punch you to show you I AM STRONG. (P.S., I'm all about nonviolent communication so I won't actually punch you, but you get my point.)
7. "You need to eat more!"
This comment is tricky. If someone is full, no matter their size, they really don't need to eat more. I know that this usually comes from a place of concern (or concern trolling), but the truth is you can't tell if someone is healthy by looking at them. Furthermore, if you're concerned one of your friends or family members is struggling with an eating disorder, telling them to eat more or that they're too skinny is ultimately unhelpful. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that just so happen to be expressed physically, and learning how to help someone with an eating disorder is not as easy as trying to shame them into eating more fries.
Agree? Disagree? Shout it out to me @RoseEatsPlants!
Image Credit: Author's Own; Giphy