Monday, January 23, 2012

The fat versus skinny girl debate rages on...

I have posted about fit vs. fat in the past...essentially talking about not all fat people being unfit and not all skinny people being in great shape.  I've also talked about self-esteem and body image.  To me, they are all related.  There has been a push lately on Facebook to give street cred to the curvy girl.  Now the skinny girls are pushing back.  

Here's my most recent post on the topic (which includes links to other posts if you need to get caught up):

And here's an old post I did in 2010 called, Real Women Rock It:

"Real," of course, referring to larger girls, although I do give props to women of all shapes and sizes.

It can be hard to feel good about yourself when all of the models in magazines are small and airbrushed.  However, if you ever see any of those "stars without make-up" posts, you know that even the famous celebrities are just normal looking people without tons of make-up and airbrushing.  Even can get to you.

Gabby Reece, a professional volleyball player, and another over-six-foot tall sister, recently posted a blog called "We All Have Cellulite."  I liked this quote "My point is that we all have cellulite. Cellulite meaning big hips, small breasts, less than perfect skin, not bright white teeth, funny ears, a big nose, no top lip, cankles… You name it, we can zone right in on our “cellulite” area and fixate on it several times a day." . . . "We as humans, especially women, love to torture ourselves. It’d be like having a hand full of aces and kings and somehow obsessing over the fact that we had a two. We could win the game with the cards we were dealt but we don’t. Why? Because we can’t see the whole picture since we are focused in on our two. Meanwhile someone next to you is playing the table and having a great time with a mixed bag of 10s, an eight, and a Jack."

It's funny how so much of what we do is to impress other people.  And although women have a hard enough time with self-esteem, it is usually our sisters breaking us down when we are vulnerable.  Why is it that so many of us feel like we have to break people down in order to build ourselves up?  I don't think it needs to be that way.
Check out this article called, "The Problem With Skinny Bashing." 

The Problem With Skinny Bashing
Published on January 20, 2012 by GirlieGirlArmy 
Calling All Women: Let’s Stop Body Bashing and Widen Society’s View of What is Beautiful!

Full figured women have long been under assault. They aren’t represented on television, in movies or in print. And if they are, they aren’t the heroine or the love interest. They are the friend. If the media were to be believed, the average woman would be a size 2, white, straight, and carry a $3000 handbag.
The desire to push back against that vision of what society says is the ideal body type is natural. And it should be challenged. Lately, I’ve been seeing images accompanied by text on facebook that seek to elevate the status of women with curves. They look back to the period of Marilyn Monroe to show that thin, or very thin, wasn’t always in. And that’s wonderful. Celebrate healthy bodies of all shapes and sizes. Sing it loud and proud. But, this particular image which I’m linking to because copyright precludes me from posting it, while trying to rage against what society says is beautiful, is truly an example of what is wrong with society. It shows our lack of a way to discuss our bodies without judgment and without competition.

When I look at this image, I see two beautiful women. Marilyn, of course, was the biggest sex symbol of her time and is undoubtedly lovely. But the woman on the right, the woman who this image seems to despise, is not sickly. In fact, if you look at her legs, you’ll find muscle.  If you look at her stomach, you won’t see ribs poking out. You’ll see a toned abdomen. It’s true that she’s thin. That she fits the size 2 image of woman that is unfairly represented in media as the only desirable figure. But to say that the woman on the right is less attractive simply to advance another body type? That’s not right either. Demonizing one to glorify another isn’t the way to have a real discussion on the female body. In fact, it’s part of the problem.

The real question is, why must it be one way or the other? Shouldn’t we all be striving for healthy bodies? And that means a different shape for every woman. The media has us all chasing our own tails in the search of the perfect figure. No matter where you look, you’ll find a reason to believe that your body can never reach perfection. The idea that perfection actually exists is the real myth.

It’s obvious that we have an issue with weight in this country. As a teacher, I’ve met ten year old girls without an ounce of fat who are dieting. They hate gaining weight even though they are getting taller and growing up. That’s unhealthy. We also have a nationwide obesity epidemic that’s putting our children at risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes. That’s also unhealthy.

The sad thing is, I’m not seeing this image posted on men’s profiles. I’m seeing it posted by women and commented on by women. They are relishing in the comparison between Marilyn and the woman on the beach. They are loving this moment of hate towards the woman in the bikini. It’s true that women who don’t conform to the narrow vision of beauty seen on TV are ostracized. They are angry for being given less importance and less of a voice in society than size 2’s, and they should be angry.  However, why does this anger automatically turn into criticism of the other body type? Shouldn’t we as women be banding together to insist that a larger group of women be represented? Shouldn’t we be taking the fight to the media who is largely responsible for only showing one type of body? One woman, after noting that she’s the same size as Marilyn was, wrote, “So IN YOUR FACE all you haters who think women need to look like stick bugs to be attractive.” Why must this woman verbally assault the size 2’s and call them stick bugs to make a place for the size 12’s? Isn’t there a place for all of us?

What should be attractive? How about healthy bodies. Whether they come in the form of a size 2 or a size 12, a well loved and cared for physique is what we as women should be striving for. By all means, challenge the idea that obtaining runway model size isn’t the only way to be beautiful. Demand that the full range of woman be represented in film and in print. But tearing someone else down to demonstrate your point does a disservice to all women. It’s time to celebrate our differences. To realize that there is no one correct image of beauty. To do away with notions of perfection and instead, enjoy life as healthy confident women. It’s no easy task, but with a little love and self-acceptance, I think we can do it.

UPDATE: The response to this article has been phenomenal.  We are blown away by all your insightful comments, and a follow up piece is on it’s way.  In the meantime, if you agree that we can treat both others and ourselves better than we do now, spread the word on this article with the hashtag #bodybashing and keep the conversation going.

Ali Berman is a writer/teacher/activist. She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. She is also the senior editor for and a fiction writer.

Image above via interesting article on men’s size preference in

Check out some more photos from Facebook below and then let me know what you think.  Can't we all just get along?  ;-)



  1. I love this blog! Growing up, I've struggled with my weight and have been called fat on multiple occasions. I was with all the other big girls saying that skinny girls aren't real women because they have no boobs or no butt or just no curves but now I'm with you on saying no to body shaming. I agree with everything you say here. My favorite part of this blog is what I've been saying since I started to live a healthy lifestyle; "What should be attractive? How about healthy bodies. Whether they come in the form of a size 2 or a size 12, a well loved and cared for physique is what we as women should be striving for." What's truly attractive is being healthy!!

  2. i've been 45-52kg my whole adult life. i can eat as much as i want and it barely makes a difference. in this respect i'm very lucky. however people have commented about my weight all my life... pulled disgusted faces when referring to my body in conversation... told me i should eat more... asked me if i was anorexic. there were many times in my early 20s when i struggled to go out in public and i wore clothing that covered me from wrist to ankle. i had terrible trouble being naked with my boyfriends. the world made me feel ashamed of how i looked. but it is just the way i am. my parents are both the same. small people. but we eat well and stay reasonably fit all the time. i hope this blog encourages people to concentrate on what is healthy... not what is 'big' or 'small'.

    1. It is sad that no one is allowed to just be happy with themselves! Society seems to dictate that we hate ourselves and each other. I hope that you are well and that is all that matters! :)