Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Weight shaming - its not just all about that bass.

     Growing up overweight and being overweight/obese well into my 20's, I had my fair share of experience with "fat shaming" in various forms. Sometimes it can be intentional, cruel and obvious (such as name calling). Other times, it may not be not so obvious...a stare, eye roll, or stifled laughter behind the back. Regardless of intention or delivery, it all sucks and makes the recipient feel like crap.

     Now, having lost weight, I've experienced the other end of the spectrum:  Skinny shaming. This occurred a lot when I had first lost all of my weight, and when I was at my lowest low (I now mostly maintain a few pounds above that, give or take depending on the month/season).  People commented  "Are you sure you can lose any more? You look pretty skinny to me..." and I could tell that they weren't saying "skinny" as a compliment, but as a negative. As if I was too skinny. Or occasionally somebody would say something like "You should eat dessert. If you lose any more weight, you are going to blow away"! 

     Previously, I was too fat. Apparently once I lost weight, I was too skinny.

     Over the summer, I was talking with someone during a run about this very topic. She is a little taller, and quite thin. She shared with me that people have said things to her like "Why don't you eat a cheeseburger" and how frustrating it is.  She eats like a normal person and not a bird, she is active, she is healthy and fit - and she is naturally very thin. How RUDE of someone to make such a comment!

     Aside from the fact that it's just plain wrong to make negative comments, what about the fact that we don't know another person's history, circumstances, and struggles?
-Maybe that 350 pound person has already lost 100 lbs and has been super proud of their progress.
-Maybe that 350 pound person has an actual medical condition or is on a medication that causes weight gain or inability to lose weight.
-Maybe that 350 pound person can't seem to lose weight, but runs half marathons regardless.
-Maybe that 95 pound person is struggling to gain weight due to a medical issue.
-Maybe that 95 pound person is battling an eating disorder, and that's no joke, nor is it as easy as "why don't you just eat some more".
-Maybe that 95 pound person is actually in prime health. And maybe they could actually kick your ass. And maybe you deserve it, if you feel like it's your place to tell them to eat a cheeseburger.

     This brings me to my final thoughts, having to do with the song "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor (who is beautiful, by the way). For the most part, I like the song. It is catchy and I think it tries to have a good message about accepting yourself and your curves. I can definitely see it being appreciated by some women struggling with their self-confidence due to having a few extra pounds. I know I appreciate that aspect of it. And I definitely love the call out about the "perfection" you see in magazines not even being real (hello, Photoshop).  Unfortunately, there are lines in there that miss the mark.  For example, the line "I'm bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that".  In a song trying to relay a message about being fine just the way you are, why did they have to go and ruin it with that line?  Doesn't being "perfect from the bottom to the top" apply to both curvy girls AND thin girls?  I realize she then says "no I'm just playing" but that's not the point. This shit goes both directions, and it's not okay either way!

     So what's the big takeaway here? When it comes to body shape or size, weight, what somebody is eating....keep your goddamn mouth shut. Don't roll your eyes at the obese person on the plane. Don't stare at the very thin person walking by in the grocery store. Just don't. You don't know their life, and it's not your place or your right to make someone feel ashamed for being who they are.

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