In Defense of Skinny

Originally posted on March 15, 2011 at 2:45 PM

on not putting others down to make yourself feel better

Believe it or not, I once read a self-help book. I HATE self-help books. I loathe them with every ounce of my being. And unfortunately, this particular book (I’m not naming names) did not help to change that opinion.

You see, this book, in a round-about sort of way, was trying to help women build their confidence. It was marketed toward “all women.” I wish I could give you an exact quote, but I threw it away. Essentially, it said something like this:

Don’t let skinny supermodels ruin your self-esteem. Real women have curves.

Now, just so you know where I’m coming from, this is me:

As you can see, I have no ass to speak of and very little body fat. I am not anorexic, insecure, or otherwise inclined to put any effort into my muscle-mass or general body composition. This is my natural body type, whether you want to believe it or not.

There’s this ridiculous notion among some circles of society that “skinny girls” have no reason for low self-esteem. And there’s an even more ridiculous notion that they are “out to get” the more voluptuous women – some sort of intentional societal subterfuge. I don’t argue that certain industries have impacted society – for better or for worse – by setting the “desirability” of specific body types. But no one person has the ability to change that. I certainly don’t. I didn’t choose to be skinny just to reinforce the American stereotype of beauty.

*Just to set the record straight, I have no delusions of being model material or even particularly beautiful. That’s not my point here.

I was born with this body type, and it has come with its emotional pain too – just like being heavyset or pear shaped or whatever your issue may be. I have come to love my body, but it wasn’t always that way. When I was in 5th through 9th grade (after kids started getting mean and before I filled out a little), people used to make fun of my skinny legs all the time. Chicken legs, toothpicks, stilts. My brother’s bitchy girlfriend once snobbily pointed out that I had “boy legs” and she had “sexy girl legs.” I was afraid to wear shorts.

No matter how happy I have become now, after working on my self-esteem, these things still hurt.

You know what else hurts? When someone who is supposed to be helping women everywhere feel better about themselves says that “Real women have curves.” I don’t have curves. No ass to speak of and hips straighter than a pencil. Does this mean that I am not a real woman? That I am somehow less important because of the way I was built?

No. It doesn’t. And I get what the author was trying to do here. I really do. Society is harder on curvaceous women than it is on thin ones. Thus the desire to rally the self-esteem of a large portion of society. I get that. But there’s no reason – and this goes for every facet of life, not just beauty – to put someone else down in order to make yourself feel validated. Your physical appearance, success, and self-esteem have nothing to do with someone else’s.

So by all means, find a way to take pride in your shape, your size, your color, your style. But please, don’t do it at someone else’s expense.

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