“You’re too skinny” – A few thoughts on skinny shaming

During my morning commute a few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across this post about Giuliana Rancic.  It was about her acknowledging her skinny frame and responding to people critiquing her for it.

I almost decided not to write this because I figured a lot of people would think that I’m defending a famous person who doesn’t need defending and such. Based upon a lot of the Twitter comments I read in reply to that tweet, there is a lot of hatred. Many people not even bothering to read the article, saying horrible things about her and how she needs to eat and how she’s terrible and many accusing her of just trying to get attention and make herself seem like a victim, in light of the recent Zendaya scandal. I merely want to express my thoughts on this article and the things that it made me reflect on. I was also fearful of the backlash I might receive, as is often the case, from people saying that skinny shaming isn’t a real thing and that by saying it is I’m just perpetuating and diminishing fat shaming. That’s not what I’m trying to do either.

Regardless of what her reasons are for this article, I agree with a lot of what Giuliana has to say. She mentions that there were a lot of rumours and accusations about her having an eating disorder. She also states that if she actually did have an eating disorder, this would not be the appropriate way for people to address it. If someone is struggling with an eating disorder, do you think by shaming them and getting angry with them, that you’re making the situation any better? People going through these things need support, not hate. Growing up, I often dealt with accusations that I had an eating disorder. In high school, one girl tried spreading a rumour that I was anorexic. I never understood why she felt the need to do that. These accusations would often come from people who themselves had issues with their own bodies, but it also came from others. Family, friends, acquaintances, anybody I met. I’ve had people ask me if I was anorexic, while I was eating food in front of them. It didn’t make any sense. It was as if they were using the word as a synonym for thin, not realizing that it implied a serious eating disorder.

While I’ve never had an eating disorder myself, I know that it a serious issue that many people face and that a lot of people, famous or not, struggle with body image.  Celebrities like P!nk and Kelly Clarkson, have recently spoken out against body shaming. There are numerous campaigns promoting loving your body and being happy with yourself and not adhering to a certain image or ideal and that’s great.  But there is still a lot of hatred.  Whether it is fat shaming or skinny shaming, it is still wrong.

One of the reason’s that Giuliana’s situation struck a cord with me, is because there are health issues involved.  She has fought cancer and says that some of the medication she takes causes weight loss.  Many have chimed in saying that she was already skinny before the cancer, trying to push that aside so they can still direct shame at her.  Health issues are not something that healthy individuals often think about or consider when judging another person.  There are all sorts of illnesses and medications that can cause either weight gain or weight loss and there is no way that you could fully know another person’s situation simply by looking at them.  Imagine how awful it would be if you were dealing with a chronic illness and on top of that, you had to deal with people criticizing your weight, which is something that your illness has influenced.

I have dealt with health issues myself, and in turn dealt with people questioning me about my weight and my diet.  I remember one time someone said to me “You’re so skinny, I love how you can just eat whatever you want and not gain weight!”  Normally, I wouldn’t argue, but that time I mumbled something about how I couldn’t actually eat whatever I wanted.  She then asked me if I was really strict with my diet, assuming that it was something I chose simply to maintain a certain weight.  I told her that I actually have food sensitivities and there are certain things I can’t eat.  There’s a huge difference between choosing to cut something out of your diet because you want to lose weight and actually not being able to eat something because it physically wreaks havoc on your body.  It’s not like, oh, I can’t eat this because I might gain a few pounds, it’s I can’t eat this because I will physically suffer as a result.

Another time, I had a friend question my dining choices and tell me outright that I was too skinny.  That’s when I told her I was actually on a modified diet due to health reasons.  I know that there are some people who don’t have any health issues and just have a fast metabolism and good genes and everyone envies them.  People start being hateful because of it.  But in Giuliana’s case, there is more to it than that.  A lot of people wish they could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight, but would you still want that if it meant you had cancer or some type of chronic illness?  I’m guessing not.

The health aspect of body shaming is the one that I feel really strongly about. But even if there is no serious underlying health issue involved, it is still something that should not be tolerated.  I have other thoughts on the subject and could probably devote an entire blog to skinny shaming or body shaming alone.  But I won’t.  But I will very likely post about it again in the future.