“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.

What’s the point of Twitter?

When I first joined Twitter, I didn’t understand it.  At all.  It took me a while before I even signed up.  I remember seeing the weird commercial where some guy with an accent was talking about “tweeting” and I thought “what the hell is that all about?”  I was very content with Facebook at the time and saw no need for Twitter.  It was just an unnecessary social media platform that I did not need in my life.  There was no point.

I’m not sure why I finally caved and decided to start a Twitter account.  I don’t remember when I started it.  Two years ago?  Something like that.  I didn’t really use it for the first while that I had it.  I thought it was stupid.  It was basically like Facebook, but with only status updates.  And nothing else.  And you couldn’t even like the statuses, you had to retweet or favourite them.  I couldn’t be bothered with that.  And I wasn’t very good at obtaining followers.  Probably because I didn’t tweet enough to be deemed worthy of following.

I also didn’t like the fact that I was limited to only using 140 characters.  What if I had more to say?  What then?  I hate limitations.  And having to shorten my words.  I try as hard as I possibly can to have proper grammatical sentences, even when using Twitter.  But I found myself having to use “b” instead of “be”, “2day” instead of “today” and “u” instead of “you”.  And sometimes even then, I was over the limit.  I hated it.

Somewhere, somehow, my opinion drastically changed.  I don’t know how or when this happened.  But today, I tweet all the time.  ALL the time.  Maybe it happened about the same time when I began to generate more and more Facebook statuses, more than the average person.  I suppose I then decided that I may as well use those statuses on Twitter as well.  Why not?

It took me a while to figure everything out.  It wasn’t until last year that I finally learned the concept of a hashtag.  And then I went overboard with it.  I didn’t fully understand it.  A few people have mentioned how odd or long my hashtags were at times.  I would just run together a bunch of words at the end of my tweets #whywouldinotdothatitmakesperfectsensetome.

When I first set up the account, my username was @frosty_rain.  Which is lame, I know.  It was based on my email address that I set up back in Grade 8.  When I was lame.  I have since changed it to @d_vaz, because that at least incorporates my initial and last name.  Not that anyone cares either way.  Should I change it again?  Would that confuse people?  It’s better than using my whole name.  Because if I were to make it @dominiquevaz, if someone were to reply to my tweets, they would use up precious characters just typing it in.  Best to keep it short.

I recently wondered whether I should have multiple twitter accounts.  Which I now do.  My main one, and now one for this blog, and one for my other blog.  Which I haven’t really done much with yet.  But @randomandunnews and @whatarewewatch now exist in addition to @d_vaz.  Whether I will do anything with them, is another question.

I still hate the limitations that Twitter has.  I refuse to link my Twitter and my Facebook.  Because I often need to modify my Facebook statuses in order to allow them to fit the 140 character limit on Twitter.  And I don’t want Twitter’s strict character count rule to influence the length of my Facebook updates.  Not going to happen.  But I have learned to deal with the limitation on Twitter.  Because now that I have a blog, I can write however the hell much I want.

My dad is probably reading this

So I’m one of those people who has this obsession with social media.  I don’t know why, but there’s just something satisfying about updating my facebook and my twitter an obnoxious amount of times.  It’s a problem, I know.  But nevertheless I continue to do it.  Some people have family members on their facebook while others wouldn’t dare accept their friend requests.  I fall into the latter category.  I don’t have to worry about my mom, as she doesn’t understand facebook or twitter and has referred to herself as “computer illiterate”.  My dad, on the other hand, is a different story.

When my dad first got facebook, he asked me when I was going to send him a friend request.  Jokingly.  Or so I thought.  He would ask why I didn’t want to be his friend.  I’m not sure what my response was, I didn’t really have a good one.  But I figured he wouldn’t use it much and would forget about it.  But I guess I was wrong.  I had my settings set to “friends of friends”.  And it just so happened that we had one mutual friend.  And so the inevitable happened, he sent me a friend request.  I declined it.  I had to.  I just couldn’t have him seeing everything I post, let alone having them fill up his news feed.  It was for his own good that I chose the ignore him.

And then there was twitter.  My tweets are usually pretty much the same as my facebook statuses, just shortened sometimes to meet the 140 character limit.  Yesterday, my dad said to me “You’re on twitter?”.  And I asked why.  And he said he was following me and proceeded to read out a couple of my recent tweets from his phone as I looked on in horror.  I pulled out my own phone and proceeded to read over my last few tweets to see if there was anything bad in there.

At this point I’m not sure what to do.  Do I censor myself and only tweet what I think my dad would find appropriate?  Do I continue to post whatever the hell I want even though I know full well he will be able to read it?  Do I create a separate twitter account and protect my tweets so that he can’t access them?  Do I shut down my account and stop this mad obsession with social media once and for all?  I don’t know.  I’ve never been good at dealing with these tough life decisions.

I don’t think anything I post is actually really all that bad.  It’s pretty clean for the most part.  I mean I have the occasional suggestive status update, but then who doesn’t?  My dad was concerned that future employers would be able to see my posts.  But I’m not planning on being a doctor or a teacher and I’m generally not that inappropriate with what I say, so I think I’ll be okay.  When my dad worries about me I know that it’s because he cares.  The fact that I so frequently post about every random thing in my life actually gives him the opportunity to keep tabs on me if I’m vague about where I’m going and what I’m doing.  Sometimes I don’t let him know but I let the social media world know.  The social media world which he is now a part of.  So it’s actually beneficial for him.  So dad, if you’re reading this, you’re welcome.