We are going to start this off by saying, we get it. Society is fucked up and even more pathetic for enforcing beauty standards upon women. It feels as if being a woman in this world is an innate crime. You’re dragged into menses at a young age, punished by hideous cramps, and then, when you become an adult, you’re met with all these derogatory societal standards that give beauty a single definition that all women should possess or strive to achieve.
The ideals of today’s beauty standards and body images have created a discourse around slimmer and full figured women. Those who fit into societal body standards are often and most times allowed to feel and be beautiful – body goals they call it. Additionally, slimmer women are acclaimed to be healthy and fuller sized women who do not exemplify these said beauty standards are usually referred to as unhealthy. The realities of thinner and average sized women are known; we’re all cognizant of how body-shaming has changed the narrative for those who do not ascribe to the provocative standards of beauty. Fuller-figured women are regularly called ‘fat,’ in a way that is meant to insulting and derogatory, and consequently, these women are pushed to live up to unreasonable expectations. We see this manifestation of wanting to fit into society’s standard as almost every girl in the U.S wants to cling onto that gym lifestyle in an effort to prove that she’s pursuing that healthy lifestyle which will eventually reward her with the “ideal” body: the 109 lbs, skinny jeans legs, thigh gap, 6 packs kinda thing. If ‘fat’ women eventually assume these idolized and revered body goals, we find this to be the most inspiring thing ever. And then, the social media stunt ensues. This is where women post pictures on social media to captivate and inspire an audience of those who might fit in a similar category of contemplating weight loss. The images portrayed in the media usually promote a particular body type. The hourglass figure that can be purchased from a cosmetic surgeon is now the ideal body type, and any woman who isn’t naturally shaped this way is expected to do all she can to achieve even a little of this effect.
Some women spend time working out and wearing waist and butt shapers, drinking weight loss supplements and going to the extreme of permanently altering their bodies to fit this unrealistic image. This is what women with fuller figures have to deal with. It’s an unfair, unrealistic burden that no one should have to shoulder.
However, today, we wanted to also speak on the standards society holds skinny women to. For one, there is an unspoken rule that if a woman is skinny, she should be grateful. She should be happy and content with her body, and anything short of that is dismissed as attention seeking and/or ingratitude. These expectations aren’t random, society makes it possible for the skinny privilege to be utilized. Skinny women are rewarded for being skinny and fuller women get body shamed for not fitting a size 4. The fashion industry caters to skinny women and treats clothing and accessories for fuller-figured women like an afterthought. As if they are being punished for not being born skinny enough. This may be shocking, but here’s an open secret: a lot of full figured women aren’t obese or unhealthy. Mind Blowing, isn’t it? Social media is rife with disgusting comments aimed at fuller-figured often masked in fake concern for the health of the woman. Expressed in advice about what she should eat and how she would be better off going to the gym than taking pictures in clothes that make her feel good. Some people do not see how unsolicited advice after being disrespectful is like pouring salt in an open wound.
In recent times, women have called out fat shaming, and the media has flooded our timelines with body positivity messages. This is a great and much needed societal growth. However, the body image issues of slimmer women are excluded from the conversation. Contentment and overall acceptance of our bodies are projected upon us which eliminates the fact that slimmer women are humans too and we too may have body insecurities. Just because our bodies surfacely fit into what society deems the “perfect body image” shouldn’t dismiss the fact that women come from different walks of life where different beauty standards exist. More so, we are expected to be staunch supporters of body positivity just as long as we can ignore our own body issues to celebrate those of fuller women. Skinny women have to be the silent friend when ‘weight’ comes up in conversations. You aren’t allowed to share in and bond over the ills of society or else you are ungrateful. Even though if you’re skinny, chances are your weight comes up a lot in exchanges with people offering you food or tips on how to gain weight because you haven’t met their standards.
It would be rude for us, skinny women, to tell a plus sized woman that she should quit eating or eat more healthy because she’s “too fat.” In most cases, it is equally rude for people who are bigger than us, and may lead lifestyles that are far from healthy, to suggest to skinny women that they should change their diet or eat more than they normally do in an attempt to achieve a more “desirable” weight. Even though we might be healthy and perfectly happy with our weight, we still have had to explain ourselves and defend our body types to strangers and family alike. This double standard creates a division in the discourse of female empowerment and silences the stories of women who do not fit the mold of “oppressed woman.” Women of all shapes and sizes experience a level a discomfort in having their bodies dissected and discussed in derogatory ways, and as a society, we will do well to acknowledge that.