Thursday, February 9, 2012

Two Pictures

The other day, a friend on Facebook posted two pictures.

The first was of a tall, slender, model-esque girl, stretched up in a ballerina-like pose that made her look even thinner and taller. The friend introduced the picture with a "She is beautiful." But the commenters weren't so kind. Throughout the 60+ comments were scattered phrases like "I don't know about that one," "Eewww!" "Looks [photo]shopped," "Too skinny," "Bones sticking out," "She looks like... she'd blow away, haha," "Alien," "Where do her guts fit in there?"

The second picture was also introduced with a "she is beautiful" by my (male) friend. This one was two images of a larger women, model Tara Lynn, who carries weight in her thighs and hips. She has a body type that the media and fashion industry like to call "curvy" (a misnomer to me, as I've observed that most women have curves, and many women are both slender and curvy). The comments on this picture veered far away from name-calling and derision. "I love healthy girls," "Beautiful," "Gorgeous," "I love her," "Nice curves" were the words applied to this second woman.

These two pictures provided me with some food for thought.Why the overall difference in reaction to the two women?

Is it because some women feel threatened by thinner women that they feel like it's okay to deride them? Do they fear that they are being held to some standard that they can never achieve when someone posts a picture of a naturally thin, fit women? Or, perhaps, are their cruel comments out some kind of twisted concern for thinner women? Do they think by insulting one thin, fit, and (presumably) healthy woman, they will solve the problems of other women who struggle with eating disorders?

Why is it okay to call women gross, alien, photoshopped, fake?

Why is it okay to assume one woman is healthy and the other not based simply on appearance?

The first woman will never look like the second, no matter how much she eats. The second woman will never look like the first, no matter how little she eats. Their bodies are just made differently. Neither is "wrong." Neither is "right." I think both are beautiful.

Maybe this hits closer to me because I have been called many of the above things. I have been accused of having fake boobs because I am naturally busty. I have been told I should be a porn star because of my "assets." I have been called "too skinny" countless times because I have a naturally thin waist. People, especially other women, seem to often think that it's somehow okay to form judgments on others based solely on appearance.

I have never thought it was okay to comment on the bodies of others, except for a casual compliment here or there.

What would such commenting look like?
"You have such big thighs. Shouldn't you work out?"
"Wow, your boobs are really small. You're obviously not as womanly as I am."
"You're too fat. You should eat less."
"You're so scrawny. How do your internal organs fit in there?"
"Your butt is really big. You should be a porn star."

Incredibly rude, right? I would never say such things. Yet people, friends, have said similar things to me about  my body. You're too skinny, you should eat more. Your boobs are really big, you should be in porn.
Why is this somehow "okay"?

What do you think the reactions to the pictures are based on?
Have you ever been "body shamed"? Have you ever realized that you've judged others based on appearance alone?


  1. As a human it is natural to make snap judgments about others and I'd be lying if I said I'd never done that. I think the problem comes when people lack the intelligence and/or information to realise when they've made an unfair judgment and correct themselves before they vocalise it and potentially hurt someone.

    I don't know a single woman who feels confident in every part of herself, every day, and I think, regardless of where men come into this, we will always take our insecurities out on each other. It's an old adage but a true one that words hurt more than actions and it saddens me that we think it's OK to insult each other like this instead of celebrating every woman. I honestly feel like body appreciation is something that needs to be taught in school, from an early age, because I can't see another way to change these ingrained attitudes that one body is better than another.

    I'm pleased that you mention the point that these women could never look like the other, regardless of their diets/exercise. I find it frustrating when people say 'it's OK that she's larger, she clearly just enjoys chocolate' or something along those lines. Maybe she eats nothing but vegetables and the smaller model actually eats a kilo of chocolate a day but never puts on weight. The point is definitely that we should be celebrating healthy and guiding women towards that, no matter what size that means they end up at.

    And maybe we should all have a little chocolate to see if it helps us cheer up and stop insulting each other!

    1. Love this comment! We should be celebrating and encouraging health, not picking on different body types and passing judgment on others.

  2. "Maybe this hits closer to me because I have been called many of the above things. I have been accused of having fake boobs because I am naturally busty. I have been told I should be a porn star because of my "assets.""
    You definitely hit a nerve here. I often find myself defending skinny women, because I feel some people think they have a free pass to attack them, much in the same way, that they feel comfortable insulting busty women, but wouldn't mock flat-chested women.
    That being said, I'm pleasantly surprised that the second pic didn't get any "she could be pretty if she toned down" type of comments.

    1. I was glad to see the positive remarks for the second picture, but it almost felt like people were basing their comments as a response to the first. As in, "That first girl was too skinny and fake. THIS picture, though, shows a REAL woman with CURVES!"

      It does seem like people seem to think that it's okay or even right to bash skinny and busty women in particular. Is it jealousy? Concern? Ignorance? Something else?

      The sad thing is, women of all body types get bashed. Mainly, it saddens me how people feel like it's okay to be cruel and derisive of others' bodies over the internet (and otherwise). Who are we to say someone else is "too skinny" or "too fat" or "fake looking"?

  3. I think people are just sick of seeing women with the body type of the women in the first photo. It's just about all we see in mainstream magazines, Hollywood movies, etc. On the other hand, the woman in the second photo is still something of a rarity in modeling and people are happy to see something new.

    I completely agree that body-shaming is horrible and should be totally eliminated from our vocabulary. But I think until every woman sees their own body type being glorified once in a while, there is still going to be a lot of bitterness. I think the prevailing mindset for lots of people is "Why play fair if the game is rigged?"

    1. Very true, this could be why people feel the need to body-shame thinner women (because that body type is so prevalent in magazines, etc and people are sick of being told, implicitly or explicitly, that they should conform to this "standard" of being thin or having bigger breasts). It's not a good reason, but it may be the main reason.

      I don't think naturally thin or busty women should have to suffer because of this, though. If people are angry about body types being misrepresented in media, they should contact the media, not bash women (models or otherwise) for something that they often have no control over. I just wish more people would understand this...

  4. Women can do so much when we stop tearing each other down and start supporting each other. That is a fact. The beauty industry is really just another form of "gender slavery" that women choose to join. Women could do so much for themselves if they just embraced what they have, rather than hate it. That is easier said than done considering since every ad is designed to make you want something you can't really have, and everyday we are bombarded with ads.

    1. Every ad is designed to make you want something you can't/don't have... very true, and something to keep in mind!

  5. Thank you. As a skinny girl, with a reasonably large bust (28F/FF), tiny waist and a generous hip/seat, I can't tell you how much it means that someone will stand up and say, "All women should be celebrated." I have drop-dead gorgeous friends who are simply built bigger; I have a friend who is so skinny (and she can't help it), that all of her clothes are baggy. I'm tired of hearing comments about implying that I need to eat a burger, or that girls like me don't exist, or that I'm unattractive because I'm slim, or that the fashion industry "caters" to me. As someone who has to do extensive alterations on her clothes to get them to fit, I can vouch that the fashion industry doesn't cater to anyone. Likewise I'm tired of hearing comments about how my bigger-built friends need to loose weight, or start working out. A couple of these girls are dancers, there is no way they're not fit and no way they're overweight.

    These comments that we're subjected to really hurt, and are only going to encourage disordered eating. Why can't we just accept that health comes in all sizes? I think that once society can accept that health comes in all sizes, then those who do have weight issues (truly over or underweight) won't feel attacked by media or by others.

    1. Very good points - I'm not really sure who the fashion industry "caters" to, but it's most certainly not me! "Custom" and "alterations" have become my new most-used words in regards to clothing.

      "Why can't we just accept that health comes in all sizes?" - Couldn't have said it better! I wish it wasn't an "easier said than done" type thing... the principle seems so simple.

  6. Attempting to shame a person into any action should never succeed and if it does should be lamented, not celebrated. It's so sad that we (men and women) don't unite to fight poor self-esteem and instead attack each other to build ourselves up.

    I enjoy the blogs I read because they provide a realistic, entertaining and positive view of bodies and people all shapes, sizes, colours and styles. Body-shaming is really, really frowned upon on all the blogs I read and it gives me hope that we will slowly spread that attitude outside of our blogs and into the world around us.