I’m excited to introduce one of my best friends Randi! We’re self-proclaimed twins who have known each other for the past five years. We lived together in college, and I can already tell you she will be in my wedding. Whenever that is.
Randi wrote an awesome piece on skinny shaming for today’s edition of Feminist Friday. It goes hand-in-hand with Angela’s post on shopping for plus-sized clothing. The two aren’t meant to contradict or challenge each other; instead, they offer two sides to the same coin. We, as women, must not shame each other for our different sizes. We are all different, and that’s what makes us beautiful. (Backstreet Boys reference for the win.)
“Damn girl! You’re looking fat today. Lay off the cheeseburgers!”
A majority of people would never, ever, ever say the above comment to an overweight friend, because it’s considered tacky, rude and hurtful.
So, why is it OK to approach me and say “Damn girl! you’re looking skinny today. Eat a cheeseburger!”
I’m 5’ 5” and hover between 105 and 115 pounds. My BMI has spent the better part of my life below the “acceptable weight” line, putting me into the “underweight” category. I wear a 00 or an XXS at several retailers, and often, I’m stuck shopping in the juniors section. I am, as Meghan Trainor so quaintly says, a “skinny bitch.”
I get it. I should be happy. I’m “blessed” with skinny privilege. Advertisers target me. Clothing is designed to fit me. I don’t have to feel self-conscious about my presence. If I had a dime for every time I’ve been called “lucky” to have my body, I wouldn’t have a single penny of student debt … and I’m in my eighth year of college.
But, here’s the thing. I’m not “lucky.” My body is the product of hard work.
I was somewhat lucky growing up in that I had a fast metabolism. As a picky eater, I didn’t eat a large variety of foods, and my parents kept me fairly active. I was in and out of martial arts classes, dance classes, gymnastic lessons and cheerleading practices several times a week from elementary school through high school. I ran, I stretched and I walked. While I was never a team player, I was anything but lazy, and as a result, my body let everybody know.
To this day, I still remain as active as I can for being a full-time student and a full-time desk worker. I log my food intake and activity levels with an app on my phone, and sign up for an annual yoga pass at my gym. I walk or ride my bike when it’s convenient, and I work hard to maintain my physique. I avoid fast or processed foods, and eat a strict whole grain and vegetarian diet.
So why am I being shamed for looking the way I do?
I understand that I am lucky. I don’t have a chemical imbalance or a medical disorder that leads to weight gain, and I’m able to afford healthy foods and find time to work out. I’ve never been mistakenly identified as pregnant. But why is it OK to shame me, but not shame my overweight counterpart?
The answer is that it isn’t. Neither should be shamed. Just as you shouldn’t make snide comments toward the chubby girl, you shouldn’t make snide comments toward the girl with the stick physique. Everyone fights his or her own battles, and you will never know what inner demons each pound of a person is fighting.
Like my mom taught me growing up, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Randi Shaffer is a reporter for Mt. Pleasant’s Morning Sun and a Central Michigan University graduate student obtaining her Master of Science in Administration degree. She considers herself a human rights advocate, hardcore Pinterest-er and enjoys glitter, hockey and yoga in her spare time. Visit her online at randimshaffer.com.