Body Image: It Doesn’t Matter What Size You Are... Stop the Body Snark
Today's blog post was supposed to be a lingerie gift guide. After all, it's the holidays, and I wanted to share some of my fave picks under $100 with you. But something happened over the weekend. Something that's been happening a lot more often in the last few months. It's something I just can't keep silent about anymore because I find it disturbing, hypocritical, and just plain wrong. And quite frankly, it's something that makes me really upset.
In case you're a new reader, The Lingerie Addict is a body positive blog and one of our missions is to promote body positivity. For us, that means every woman --- no matter her size, shape, age, or skin color --- is beautiful. And it also means that every woman --- no matter her size, shape, age, or skin color --- deserves gorgeous lingerie. Put simply: I don't care if you're tall, short, thin, curvy, plus size, petite, mature, young, muscular, slim, all of the above, or none of the above, we think your body is fine as is and you don't need to change it... especially not on the whims of internet strangers.
(You may also like: Real Women, Real Bodies: Why the Lingerie Industry Has a Real Problem)
But lately, I've seen some people take the exact opposite approach. Namely, that if they're curvy, full busted, or plus size then it is perfectly okay to mock, taunt, degrade, and insult thin, small busted, or petite women.
How in the world is that acceptable?
Now, I know some folks are probably saying, "Why are you defending them? Thin women have had it good for too long! Now it's our turn!" But if it's wrong to call a curvy woman a "fattie" and tell her that she needs to go on a diet, then it is just as wrong to call a thin woman a 'pre-pubescent boy" and tell her she needs to eat a cheeseburger (both comments I've seen on recent blogs). Insulting other people's bodies doesn't suddenly become okay because you have larger boobs or wider hips.
Here's the facts: struggles with body image and self-esteem issues are not the exclusive property of one size. Every woman is told again and again from puberty onward about all the many, many reasons why her body is defective, inadequate, and imperfect. We are presented with dozens of messages every single day about what we need to do to make our bodies "better," even when they're perfectly all right. I just don't understand why someone, anyone, would want to contribute to that dialogue... especially if you've ever been on the receiving end of hurtful comments about your body in the past (and who hasn't?).
Just to be clear, I don't care what you find sexy. Some folks like big butts. Some folks like small butts. Some folks like big boobs. Some folks like small boobs. Some folks like flat tummies. Some folks like soft tummies. That's not the point. Your preference is your preference and whatever gets your juices flowing is good for you. But just because you like big butts or big boobs or soft tummies doesn't mean all the other women of the world have the "wrong" body and need to change it to suit you.
(You may also like: Why Doesn't the Lingerie Industry Like Women of Color?)
"But what about health, Treacle?" someone is probably saying. "Being too thin is unhealthy, and I'm just telling them to eat a cheeseburger because I care." Really? Here's my response to that:
1) Just like some people are naturally thicker than others, some people are naturally thinner than others. It doesn't matter what they do or how much they eat, they will always be on the thin side. That doesn't automatically make them unhealthy, but trying force themselves into a body type that isn't theirs probably will.
2) There's a huge difference between someone being unhealthily thin and someone being thinner than what you personally find attractive. Case in point, I posted this photo to The Lingerie Addict Facebook Page a few months ago:
One of the very first comments was that I needed to gain 10 pounds. Now, in that photo, I'm 5'8" and 155 lbs (I'm around 170 lbs. now, as seen in this recent photo). I was a graduate student and an active martial artist. I worked out 5 days a week, probably ate around 3,000 calories per day, and was literally in the best shape of my life. Yet someone looked at that photo, and without knowing anything else about me, my health, or my weight, that person made the snap judgment that I needed to gain 10 lbs. That judgment had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with that person's own preferences.
3) No one has ever been cured of an eating disorder by being told to eat a cheeseburger. If someone is unhealthily thin, the last thing they need is more commentary about their shape, size, or weight. In fact, negative remarks about their body are guaranteed to do more harm than good. If you are worried that someone has an eating disorder, the right thing to do is be supportive, empathetic, and refer them to the appropriate resources, not to make snarky remarks about their weight.
Respect for people's bodies goes both ways. It is hypocritical to ask people to respect and embrace your body type if you're mocking and making fun of other people's body types.
Women come in all shapes and sizes. We're all beautiful. We're all real. And it doesn't matter if you're a size 6 or a size 16. If you're for body positivity, then be for body positivity... even when those bodies aren't shaped like yours. Otherwise, you're just singing the same old song. And I'm really not interested in hearing it again.