By Gwendolyn Crowe | firstname.lastname@example.org
Body shaming is such a prevalent topic in today’s society, but even in just the last year or so, the target of body shaming has shifted drastically. For the longest time, throughout Hollywood and society, body shaming has been aimed at those who are bigger. But recently, I’ve noticed that target make its way toward those who are smaller. That being said, I’ve dealt with verbal attacks due to being thin all of my life, and so have thousands of other girls.
Take for instance a conversation I had recently with another college student.
“I was a gymnast, so your body was everything in that sport,” one student said to me recently. “When I was anywhere between eight and 13, my coaches would tell me I looked anorexic, then my teammates started telling me that and it became this big thing in my head. When I was eight, that’s how I learned what anorexia was … My nickname at the gym was ‘Sticks’ because of how small I was/am. And every time I was called that, I wanted to crawl out of my skin.”
What people don’t seem to realize, or simply don’t care about, is that these phrases and vicious attacks leave an imprint on us for the entirety of our lives, and not in a good way. It’s extremely hurtful, and I still remember every single rude comment said to me. As the student I spoke to said, it gets in your head.
“As we grew up and other girls got boobs, the older girls would make fun of me for wearing a bra because I was flat chested or they’d laugh when I tried to strut on the floor because they said I didn’t have a butt,” she said. “It’s led to many insecurities throughout my life that I still deal with today. The biggest thing for me were the older girls making fun of me wanting boobs and stuff. It’s made me feel, even to this day, that my body isn’t enough … that it’s not big enough. My boyfriend has to remind me all the time that he loves me for who I am.”
Speaking with her reminded me of all the “zero is not a size” and “only dogs like bones” comments I’ve heard, made mostly by women, in an attempt to bring thin girls down. It’s very dehumanizing, almost like they’re saying we’re lesser women because we don’t have boobs or a big butt. It’s wrong, and way too common, considering another girl that I reached out to talked about a similar issue.
“I hate how everyone makes naturally skinny people feel like less of a woman because we don’t have large curves or butts,” another student said. “I barely have meat on my bones, but I can’t help that. People are always like, ‘your butt is so small’ and ‘you have no boobs.’ I think I know that. I see myself naked every day.”
Similar to others, she has been brought down so much to the point where she feels like less of a woman.
I’ve personally compared all of the attacks, gawking, and comments to being an animal in a zoo. People stare at you, taunt you, and they don’t treat you with respect. It becomes something that defines you, and I don’t want to be defined by my size. I want to be respected for who I am and be taken seriously as a person, just like anyone else. There have been many instances where I felt dehumanized and judged unfairly. People don’t realize that there are naturally thin people in the world and that it’s difficult for us to gain weight no matter how much we eat.
I wish I could break the stigma that thin people are all anorexic and don’t eat, but I feel that will always be the assumption. I just wish that people would stop commenting on people’s bodies and thinking it’s OK to say whatever they want. All it does is hurt people, make them think negatively about themselves and impact them for life.
The comments I received in middle school, high school and even in college have stuck with me and affected how I perceive people. If I’m hanging out with someone new, I constantly brace myself for a rude, unnecessary comment. Apparently, it’s really important to people that there are naturally thin people in this world who eat a ton but don’t gain weight because, believe it or not, fast metabolisms exist and a lot of people cannot control what his or her body looks like. I wish people would think before they spoke and realized that it hurts just as much as being called fat. It’s wrong.
“I was actually bullied because I was too small. That’s why I dealt with bullies in school,” I heard when speaking with another student. “I was shoved in suitcases and slid down hallways. I was shoved in refrigerators at school.”
Another girl had an interesting, but sad story to tell.
“I was made fun of in middle school, not only by other kids in my school, but by adults. I once had my friend’s dad make fun of me for how thin I was. Her father had made dinner and when I walked over and grabbed a plate and put it in front of him, he gave me a tiny portion. I stood there waiting for more and he said, ‘Wow, are you actually going to eat tonight?’ This was a grown man who had two daughters of his own and felt it was OK to body shame a 13-year-old girl.
“I always felt that I had to prove to others that I ate more than enough,” she continued. “I would have friends over and would make sure to eat constantly … I had people jokingly call me anorexic. No one ever felt bad for me except my parents and a very few amount of friends that I would open up to about. No one ever stood up for me when people said those things.”
I’ve had so many similar occurrences throughout my life where people assumed I didn’t eat, and I constantly felt like I needed to prove something to people. However, talking to other girls who I can relate to has been therapeutic. It’s taught me we are not alone, and more importantly, that we are perfect the way we are.
We don’t need to prove anything or look a certain way to be a “woman.”