While I’m very interested in body image, body acceptance, and the Healthy at Every Size movement, I don’t write a lot about body image. Because I recognize that as a thin, able-bodied, white, heterosexual, cis-woman, I carry around a whole lot of privilege, and really, no amount of whining about how someone called me Olive Oyl or “walking toothpick” or “knobby knees” in Jr. High is going to compare to the experience of someone who is told over and over in the media that she is unacceptable, that she is unhealthy, that she is the reason Americans spend so much on healthcare, that she is going to die, that she is unworthy of love, that she is not allowed to wear the things she wants to wear because it “grosses” others out, just to name a few. I get that that is not my experience, and so I try to take a backseat and be a good ally. I creep on blogs like Shapely Prose and the Rotund and Fatshionista, and I try to get schooled.
That said, I was SO HAPPY to read this post by Ragen Chastain of Dances with Fat (she left me a comment the other day! woo!) over at Jezebel called “Things I’ve Heard About Thin Women.” Her post is about the tendency of some in the body acceptance movement to tear down those whose bodies are considered by mainstream society as “more acceptable” than fat bodies. She points out seeing the following comments:
“Stick women just aren’t sexy, it’s just gross.”
“What man would want a twig anyway?”
“It’s just impossible to be healthy when you are that thin, you have to be anorexic or a drug addict to look like that” “Real women are curvy and LOOK like women”
I’ve written about the whole “real women have curves” thing before and concluded that real women come in all shapes and sizes, and real women love themselves, no matter what they look like. I’m not going to try to play Oppression Olympics, or claim that skinny shaming even BEGINS to come close to the kind of fat shaming so many people deal with on a regular basis. Instead, I’d just like to reiterate Ragen’s point here:
I believe that if you say that you want a size positive world, you have to mean size positive for everyone. That means not making judgments about others based on their size; sticking up for the model being called anorexic with the same fervor you would use to defend a fat women being called lazy; respecting other people’s decisions when it comes to their bodies – even when you don’t agree with them.
That’s what it means to be the change you want to see in the world.
Amen! Women are a powerful force when we have each others’ backs and are united in the fight for fairness. Distracting us into some sort of competitive game where we’re pitted against each other trying to define what a “REAL” woman is, or what a truly acceptable, beautiful body looks like is just another way to keep us down. Don’t let The Man distract us with such petty crap. We are ALL beautiful, we are ALL deserving of love and acceptance, starting with loving and accepting ourselves, and branching out to love and accept each other.