feminist fopaux

What is with feminists that somehow think it’s okay to shame skinny women? Funk dat. seriously – why do they think that is okay? (they also never seem to shame men who are skinny, go figure).

And seriously – you can’t really preach body acceptance whilst shaming any body type. I don’t care if it’s an anorexic – Does it really make you feel better about yourself to put down someone who is struggling with a disease? (it reminds me of skinny women who shame fat women – they are reaching for a shitty/false way to boost their ego).

I was reading this post: http://fuckpoliteness.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/did-you-know-you-hated-keira-knightley-dont-worry-it-surprised-me-too/

One of the last comments makes these precious points:

Aelo describes Keira Knightley as: “painfully thin”, “you can see all her bones when she moves and it doesn’t look healthy to me.” (what if I said, “Painfully fat” or “you can see all her rolls when she moves and it doesn’t look healthy to me.” ? Would that feel good to fat people?).

Then over at feministing – a feminist site famous for skinny-bashing and the reason for being okay with skinny bashing? Skinny women are represented in media and fat women aren’t, so that makes it okay to refer to women as skeletons etc.

http://www.feministing.com/archives/019038.html

“At least she’s being honest about the fact that she starves herself. Better than the models who pretend that they eat hamburgers and cake and are just “naturally” 90 lbs.” – Lyndsay (I don’t eat hamburgers but I assure you – I’m 90lbs naturally, because that’s just how I am. I’ve been this weight for 10 years).

“publish more Photoshopped images of skeletons wearing ultra-exclusive clothes.” – prtsimmons

waif-like” (in describing Kate Moss) – smartbunny

http://www.feministing.com/cgi-bin/movabletype/mt-search.fcgi?IncludeBlogs=2&search=spain+runway&limit=20

All of these are in reference to a skinny runway model – not one person knows this womans name, what her lifestyle is like, if she’s ever dieted etc.

“i teared up a bit like i was looking at a starving ethiopian child.” – Jami (I’m not sure who should be offended more).

“The things is that she probably doesn’t even realize how unhealthy she looks.” – Moxi Hart (really – what DOES healthy look like? If you got the answer, I’d like to know).

“That picture is truly horrifying” “Banning too-skinny models is probably a step in the right direction, provided they have a means of measurement that doesn’t also exclude models who are naturally very thin.” (who decides what is “too” thin?) – Vervain

“If a woman is below her BMI, she isn’t healthy, she may be naturally underweight due to some health condition, such as an overactive thyroid…but technically she isn’t “healthy” “average” or “normal”.” (haha, that’s a gem.  I love how feminists always moan about BMI’s when we discuss obesity but when it comes to anorexics or skinny women? Totally relevant).

“This gives new meaning to the phrase “a rag, a bone, a hank of hair.”” – poeslygeia

These are just a couple of the examples where skinny women are being compared to THINGS and described as THINGS, and being described as “unhealthy” without any knowledge of what their lifestyles are like (Don’t fat people get sick of hearing that jargin too?).

I’m all about fat being accepted like thin but do we have to shame skinny women to get there?

It’s just riddled with hypocrisy. Some fat people don’t want to be compared with things that somewhat resemble fat people – but they feel it’s okay to call women “rakes” or skeletons (how is that any different from calling someone a whale or cow?!). They don’t want people assuming a fat person over eats and is lazy but it’s totally A OK to assume a skinny woman starves herself or unhealthy…

I have a body like Keira Knightley and guess what? Never starved myself a single day. I’ve never tried to be careful of what I eat (although, I make a point to try to eat as many vegetables as possible) – other than being vegan, I have no restrictions.  I eat A LOT of junk food (it just happens to be animal free).

Either way – none of these feminists describing skinny women as “sickly” would be okay with calling an OBESE person sickly looking.  Or even someone who is slightly overweight with high cholesterol and blood pressure. 

I understand the “backlash” but it just doesn’t sound intelligent, it defeats the purpose (really, it does) and in general – it makes you look like a self-hating fat person when you feel the need to be all nasty towards skinny people for existing (and it really doesn’t matter how they got there).

I just tend to think – if feminists want fat/obese people represented in the media in a context that isn’t hidden by “health”- then the same has got to be true for anorexic people (despite the horrors of what they do to their bodies, they are still human beings that deserve a space in society). This always irks me – they’ll defend women like Mo’nique – who promotes unhealthy eating (which is another form of an eating disorder that has potential health risks similar to not eating at all) but will freak out about women like Kate Moss. 

And I get it – Mo’nique  is more suited to defend because she represents and under-represented population in society but defending her characterizations of skinny women (which have been nothing but full of hatred)  is a huge blockade in the direction of body acceptance.  It really just gives people MORE ammo against fat people, when you really think about it. It perpetuates the “bitter, envious, jealous fat person” stereotype. And heck, that is exactly how it comes off.

I’m not saying I have any problems with people pointing out everything wrong with media conforming to one body type (which isn’t even consistent with most skinny bodies – most of the women who have bodies like mine, also have big/fake boobs). I’m not saying that Kate Moss should never be called out on her shit…She should be – especially if she hates on people for how they look.

Can’t we point out how only having skinny models and how comments like Kate Mosses are harmful WITHOUT shaming skinny people? WIthout shaming the skinny body type?

It’s just offensive on so many levels and it’s almost like some fat people expect to be respected despite their body size and eating habits but still want to be able to shame anyone who doesn’t have their body size (or for having the other extreme). How does that make them ANY DIFFERENT than Kate Moss? If they are going to call Kate out for saying “nothing tastes better than skinny feels” (I think I got the quote right) – then they can’t get pissed when a skinny person calls em out for being nasty towards skinny people. Or why aren’t they calling Mo’Nique out for saying that being fat makes her feel great? So fat people can feel great about being fat, simply because they AREN’T represented enough in media? But skinny women can’t feel great about being skinny because we are overly represented in media? I guess that just seems like a very flimsy argument.

An example is thus: Someone on feministing refers to skinny women as “skeletons” or “rakes” or “holocaust survivor”(true story) – a skinny person points out how that’s fucked up and how it harms them and their own self-image and the person who just objectified skinny women is all, “Why is it that every time we have a discussion on fat acceptance, some skinny person has to come in and make it about skinny people and skinny acceptance – skinny people still have privilege.” (which is a logical fallacy – skinny people having privilege does not erase that some of us are shamed or told how disgusting we are).  The only reason any skinny person makes a comment about not bashing skinny people is because some person just made it about bashing skinny people. THEY are the ones who derailed the post and decided to make a fat acceptance post about bashing skinny women. Duh (is it really ANY surprise that skinny people would feel a bit offended and feel the need to point out that it isn’t feminist to shame women about how they look, no matter what issues they have that led them to look that way – if they exist).

I always thought (maybe wrongly) that a portion of feminism involved making it so that women aren’t judged by how they look (at least not to this degree). Whether they struggle with an ED or not. I really thought the goal was to NOT go about shaming women for how they look – no matter the context. And if fat women don’t want people being concerned with their weight using the veil of “health” – than they should ALSO apply that to how they look at anorexic women or women they perceive to be anorexic. Because A GREAT DEAL of those comments, were comments about how “unhealthy” that woman looked or how unhealthy it is to have a BMI of 16. HEALTH HEALTH HEALTH – the same word that would make them cringe if it had been used to defend not using fat women in the modeling industry.

Sometimes it just seems like some fat women want to make fat the new beauty standard, rather than attempting to do away with one altogether and simply appreciating people for their uniqueness – flaws included (and those flaws might very well include starving oneself, or indulging in too many sweets).

The thing is – why don’t skinny and fat women get on the same page? My experiences in life have not been all that different from the experiences of some fat women. Growing up – my skinniness was a constant topic for conversation (sometimes people would be like, “damn, I wish I was that skinny naturally.” but most of the time it would be “OMG, look at how skinny your arms are!) and it wasn’t infrequent for people to refer to me as “disgustingly skinny” or unhealthy looking.  The first time that it really affected me was in 5th grade. One of my friends and one of her other friends were mad at me (and I can’t even remember what it was about) and they sat at a distance from me and were all, “OMG, she’s so skinny, it’s really disgusting.” and they made some other comments that I can’t remember. That was the first time my thinness was used as a way to shame me.

I cried and I cried and I cried.

Is that experience far from what fat people experience? Probably not. I get that there are things I don’t have to deal with – like trying to find a place to sit where I can fit, or being comfortable on an airplane, finding clothes that I can fit into. In THAT sense – skinny people ARE indeed priveleged. 

So my plea? How about we try to relate to each other. When a skinny person feels offended when their body type is being compared to skeletons and being unhealthy – rather than assuming a skinny person is trying to perpetuate skinny as the beauty norm or is pro-ana – try to relate.  Relate it to how some people have called you disgusting for being fat, or had “concerns” about your health because you are fat or any other bodily “imperfection”. You know how that damages your own self-esteem, so stop assuming that skinny people being represented in media somehow erases the damage a skinny person feels when they are shamed for being skinny. Skinny women being represented in media DOES NOT erase the feeling I get when someone refers to my legs as “disgusting” – so stop acting like it does.

At the end of the day – we have to accept the fact that women should be able to do with their bodies what they want. That includes porn (even though I disagree with that choice) or prostitution.. It includes eating until someone becomes fat, or starving oneself to be skinny (neither is healthy or responsible – I just want to make that clear). 

This reminds me of this body acceptence photo display that was on at the local college. The display showed women of all ages, of all body types, with disorders, disabilities. THIS is an example of where I think we, as feminists, should be going for. We get so stuck on this fat VS thin but there is just so much to deal with and when we focus on fat or skinny too much – other people are totally left out of the picture… Where are the women in wheelchairs on the runways? What about the women who were born with no arms?

I really loved that display because it had such a HUGE variety and all of those pictures were beautiful.

http://www.laurietobyedison.com/discuss/

6 Responses to “feminist fopaux”

  1. aelo Says:

    I’m surprised that you feel shamed by my comments. That was not my intention.
    I’m all for body acceptance, actually I’m all for getting to know human beings as people. It’s sad that you feel so criticised for your body type, obviously it is a very common experience for people of all sizes and shapes.
    I’m average to everyone but my father, and to him I will always be fat.

    But –
    I do actually care if someone is a ‘successful anorexic.’ I was anorexic through my teens and twenties and I found it a very destructive damaging cycle. Two of the young women I got to know in hospital died from the disease.
    I don;t find the misery and obsession and distress that goes with anorexia particularly beautiful, so yep, I have a problem with it being portrayed as beautiful or normal.
    And the word ‘shame’ is a particularly pertinent one. There was a lot of shame in that hospital, shame in losing control, shame in taking one mouthful, shame of having the living breathing flesh of the human body. You could describe anorexia as a surfeit of shame.

    Thin women are represented in the media as an ideal. Yes, it would be great to have a wide variety of women’s bodies represented to us in the media. But as it happens, your demographic is held up to the rest of the western world as something to striven for. This isn’t a criticism of you, personally. You just happen to fit the criteria. It’s a criticism of those who are defining the parameters of ‘good’ and ‘right’, and of the expectation that everybody can and should fill them.
    If that comes to you naturally, then good for you. I am not telling you ( or anyone else for that matter) that I think you change your perfectly healthy choices in order to conform to any kind of social – or feminist – norm.
    Your value is in who you are, not (as you say) in your body type.
    and as you say, you have never starved yourself, you are simply, naturally 90 lbs, so we aren’t talking about being anorexic with it accompanying mental health problems.

    Plenty of people do write and talk about ‘painfully fat’ and seeing rolls of fat when they move. In fact many of Knightley’s fellow actresses are frequently captioned as just that – women who generally fall into a below average weight range anyway.

    When i wrote that post about Knightley i was thinking of a picture of her at an awards ceremony. And in that picture she did look painfully thin. I say that thinking of those girls on the ward who had starved themselves down to nothing, and for whom eating has become such a painful, distressing, all encompassing focus.
    They did look skeletal. And some of them were dying. I hear your anger, but I’m not convinced that this situation should be acceptable.

    this is what was in my head when i replied to that post. I don’t “hate Keira knightley”, because, as the article sneers, I’m simply jealous of her.
    I don’t hate Keira knightley at all. The idea of her being a ‘successful anorexic’ appalls me – it would be nice to think her success is based on her talent rather than a compulsion to deny herself food..

    • truthvscompliance Says:

      A few things I have to say:
      How can you tell by looking at someone that they are anorexic? Is Keira Knightley anorexic or is that just what you are assuming she is? I know there are rumors but there are rumors everytime a famous person loses weight (or gains it) – I’ve been subject to rumors when I’ve never had an ED AND I’ve been this weight since I finished puberty – so I can’t say I really trust rumors. The same exact thing happened with Christina Ricci – she lost some weight (due to depression after going to rehab) and everyone assumed it was anorexia or that she was trying to be that thin.
      The reason this concerns me so much is that everytime a WOMAN (specifically) gets too thin (by societies standards) – people make the assumption that it has to do with anorexia. That isn’t always the case – just like I have friends who would be considered fat by social standards that are very healthy. Meaning they eat well and exercise regularly – but the nature of their genes makes them pack on the lbs – assuming they are this or that would be fucked up. I’m so petite that losing ONE pound looks obvious. Even to me.

      Here is an example of how peoples’ anorexic accusations have affected me… About five years ago – I was incredibly depressed about being skinny. I had a “friend” telling me that I was too skinny (even though I’m no skinnier than I had been when we were first friends) and when we went out to the bar that night, everytime she introduced me to her friends she was like, “This is my friend, look at how skinny she is?Isn’t it gross?” (imagine your size being a part of your introduction and being described as gross for it) – it was a constant topic with her and her roommate of the time too. Then around the same time my boss told me I should wear pants to work because she was afraid customers would think I wasn’t getting paid enough to eat… (the thing is – my legs are very skinny – even if I put on 10 lbs – my legs would be that skinny. Whenever I gain or lose a lb or two it’s on my hips only). I was suicidal (especially what my boss said). I wanted to kill myself. It took a lot of ditching people, reevaluating my friendships, pushing them out of my life because it was either put up with their condescending airs and let them drag me down or only surround myself with people who have a more positive outlook (which I did and of course – I’m not depressed anymore and my attitude about my body is better). If you shame an anorexic person or just a skinny person to the point where they want to kill themselves – how are you helping them? (I don’t mean to sound pissed, I’m just passionate). I belonged to a help-group for naturally thin (not a pro-ana group, I want to make that clear – but for people who wish they could gain weight but because of medical or genetic reasons can’t – it was just a place for people to vent about being accused of anorexia and how we are judged etc) people who are constantly getting shit for it and one of the girls’ on there killed herself. What if your comparison of skinny women to skeletons triggered someone to do that? I mean – anorexic people might even take that as a compliment but when you’ve been shamed your entire life for being skinny – it is very harmful. Maybe some people shame me out of jealousy or because of their own insecurities but it doesn’t erase the fact that it hurts a lot.
      It feels like you are trying to justify those comparisons… but why do they need to be made in the first place? When someone is known to struggle with anorexia – than I’m totally up for discussing the problems with anorexia (which really doesn’t have to include the appearence of the woman, does it?)… but saying someone is this or that, simply based on how they look is ridiculous. I also think it minimizes the disorder in many ways. What I mean is that I’ve known a woman who are 5’6″ and 200 lbs that was bulemic. It’s almost like her problem doesn’t even exist in society because everyone is too busy equating skinniness with the disorder…

      also: I used the term “successful” anorexic – not because I think it’s a success for anyone or that I felt Keira Knightley’s success is due to being anorexic (I’m not even sure that she is anorexic) but because when someone is that stuck into this disorder – they see being EXTREMELY thin as being their desired look – it’s a success in their own minds to get extremely skinny. I just wanted to clarify that and I used the term without thinking about it much. Come to think of it – I probably won’t use that combination of words again…. I’ve seen other feminists use it to describe the type of anorexics that are extremely thin VS anorexics who haven’t gotten to their desired thinness.

    • truthvscompliance Says:

      I think there is a difference between finding a situation acceptable and not shaming people. Know what I mean? They aren’t exactly synonyms.

  2. lagusta Says:

    I am also that skinny girl who was constantly teased throughout school. I try to pretend that the CONSTANT skinny-shaming in mainstream feminist circles doesn’t get annoying, but it does. I often get tired of people assuming I don’t have a healthy relationship with my body just because I’m 5’8″ and 109 lbs. My secret is that I never exercise and thus have no muscle! But aside from that, I’m super healthy —everyone in my family is “painfully thin.” Ugh.

  3. shinynewcoin Says:

    I really hear you on this. I myself am on the “overweight” side of the BMI (which we all know is a bunch of bullshit, right?) so I probably have made unthinking unkind remarks along these lines. I endeavour not to though and have a standing invitation to be called out when I’ve made a glaring presumption/error. What it basiscally comes down to is the presumption that you can tell how healthy a person is simply by looking at them. Obviously, you can’t. It completely discounts different bodies, different genetics, different metabolism and the agency of the person actually residing in that body.

    My partner and his family are all naturally very thin. Which is fine, that’s the design of their bodies. Still, I’ve had to remind my partner from time to time to stop telling his sister to eat more. Reverse it in your mind and it’s like telling me to eat less. Sure you’re saying it because you love her but implied in that is a judgement on the way a person’s body should look. No-one has the right to tell a person what to do with their body.

  4. berryblade Says:

    ahhh i love this post! i’m thin and people are often still questioning if i have an eating disorder. nothing pisses me off more.

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