Friday, September 16, 2016

Day 2528 - Sizeism isn't just about the F Word

Skinnyism is a thing too.

When I was a teenager I was really skinny.  I had no body shape.  I looked like a boy.  

Not because that was the look I was going for, but because it's just the way my genetics made me.  I would eat an entire batch of chocolate chip pancakes in one sitting and not gain a gram.  Afternoon tea would consist of an entire loaf of bread and honey, or a full box of salt and vinegar chips, or perhaps I'd make myself a batch of rice pudding meant for a family of four.

I'd fill myself with carbs because that's what my body was craving, yet I stayed stick thin.
Now for all of you who are about to start hating on me, it's OK.  That food caught up with me and I finally grew a woman's body in my 20s.  At the age of 28 in the lead up to my wedding I even joined Weight Watchers to lose the extra kilos I'd gained since ordering my wedding dress.

The reality is that people did "hate on me" because of my weight (or lack thereof).  

People assumed I starved myself.  They called me names like "skinny Mick the race horse" or "Twiggy" or "skinny streak of pelican shit".

Being skinny is a dream for many people.  So referencing someone's slim body in a negative way may not seem like body shaming to those delivering the message.  

But as a skinny teen with no boobs or butt it still felt like body shaming to me.  It made me feel ashamed of who I was.  

The worst comment came not from my peers but from a friend's mother who said "you need to eat girl, you're ugly skinny".

Ugly skinny.

Those words have reverberated through my brain my entire life.

Ugly skinny, ugly skinny, ugly skinny ...

Could you imagine if that term was used by a parent to reference someone who was carrying weight? That they used "ugly" next to the F Word?

That parent would be hammered.  The world would be appalled.  

The reality is that sizeism is more than fatism.  Sizeism is fatism, skinnyism. shortism and tallism.  

My husband has experienced it too. His has been a double barrel shot at both his super skinny teen physique and the fact that he's 6 foot 5.  The word "freak" was bandied around a bit and until he started hanging out with other super tall guys on the basketball court he admitted to actually feeling like a freak.

The best thing that ever happened to him was that he found people he could talk eye to eye with. People who didn't judge him by his size, but embraced it. 

As you know my daughter is a model.  We've encouraged and supported her dreams because it allows her to be proud of her 6 foot height and has meant she can embrace her current lack of curves.

Of course she is the victim of sizeism.  She is constantly being told to "eat a burger".  She is  judged by her appearance when people assume she doesn't eat.  

People who don't know her refer to her as "up herself" or "a tart" or "a bitch" because people with her dimensions must be all those things.  Those that take the time to meet her marvel that she is down to Earth, shy and just plain nice.  

As I watch my son get taller and skinnier, I see he is starting to lose a little bit of confidence.  I see it on the soccer field, I see it with his mates, I see it on PE days when he has to get dressed in front of his peers.  As his mates start to bulk up in their journey to manhood he's feeling "less than" because of his size.

If you wouldn't say "Holy crap, you're so freaking fat!" then don't say "Holy crap, you're so freaking skinny!" either.

Let's stop referencing size.

We understand racism and sexism and their implications, so have a think about sizeism too.  

Sizeism isn't just about the F Word.  


Have you experienced sizeism?

What's your take on body shaming?

Ever been the target of a body "shamer"? 

15 comments :

  1. I am too old to care, to be honest. About other people's size. I get thingy about mine but I'm working on that...my metabolism just changed (yep, that old) so I'm trying to get that to work...

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  2. What can't people use their filter and just be nice to each other??

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  3. I was always called fat when I was a child. My son is really short and very thin, I am sure you can imagine the rubbish he goes through. Like so many other things, I just cannot see how what someone looks like is anyone elses business to comment on. xx

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  4. I was short and skinny (petite I guess you call it!) as a kid - I refused to wear skinny leg jeans when I was a teenager because they made my legs look like toothpicks! Now I've filled out a little and feel more comfortable in my skin and I guess that's what it comes down to accepting ourselves (and others!) for who we are no matter the size x

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  5. Spot on! Sizeism comes in all forms, doesn't it. So well said. Loved this post. (p.s. I was a skinny teen too)!

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  6. I've experienced this forever. And it sucks. I totally agree. But I'm pretty sure it still sucks more the other way. 'Fat' has this totally unjustified link with 'laziness'. For every time I've been told I'm too skinny or I need to eat, I've never had someone assume I'm lazy or just don't care what I look like. Usually, the worst comment I get as I scoff down my fifth doughnut for the day is "IT'S NOT FAAAAAAIR!" x

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  7. Great message! I really don't know why anyone should feel a need to comment on other people's size, whether this be at either end of the range or anywhere inbetween.

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  8. I couldn't agree more Leanne. It just shouldn't be an issue for anyone. We are all different and we are all as we are - no more, no less.

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  9. I completely agree we shouldn't judge anyone for their size etc... although I recently read a study that noted most people would still rather be skinny or too skinny than overweight or obese.

    The body shape thing is an interesting one as well and I think about some thin people who might have a bigger butt or hips or something. One of my friends is like that and she tries to lose weight to get rid of her butt, but her face becomes really thin and emaciated and people comment. It frustrates her no end.

    I loved Lydia's comment about being too old to care. I guess I'd like to be like that about myself. I'm not particularly worried about others (overly thin or overweight) unless they seem physically unhealthy - but then again I guess it's their own business... When I was carrying a bit more weight my mother constantly told me she worried about my health. It wasn't like I didn't, but I hated hearing it all of the time.

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  10. I will never understand why people have to make any kind of comment at all? What happened to just being nice to each other? My hubby has been tall and slim all his life and my little boy is shaping up to follow in his Dad's footsteps. I hope he will grow broad shoulders to take the 'skinny' flack he is bound to get. I'm sure his Dad will be able to give him some pointers!! :) #pocolo

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  11. Great post, Leanne and I agree with the comment above - why do people have to make any comment at all? Those celebrity magazines are full of double standards and their money making headlines aren't much help to society either - "too skinny" "too fat" " "plastic surgery".

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  12. Great, thought-provoking post. I've always been on the bigger side so someone being abused for being slim has never really been on my radar but I'm utterly shocked by the hateful comments you recieved :( Well done for highlighting this xx #pocolo

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  13. Yes! This. Absolutely. I am not vertically challenged or shorty, I am me! Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo and let's all accept ourselves and others for what they are.

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  14. OMG yes ... I was very thin as a youngster, a combination of genes (both my parents were skinny kids) and the fact I was too stressed out/upset by all the dysfunction in my family to eat. My nickname used to be "Anna" when I started work fulltime, short for "anorexic" - but I wasn't. At highschool I used to get "flatjack" as I had no boobs, oh and "chicken legs" or "pigeon legs". Lovely! NOT.

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  15. You are SO right! I was super skinny when I was a teen, now I'm overweight. I've heard both sides of this and I've always had body issues. It is so sad that we feel it's okay to shame anyone, whether skinny, fat, tall or short. Thanks for linking to #pocolo

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