Painting ‘Slim’ as Unattractive

It was my first year of university during an English Language lecture that I witnessed one of the worst forms of discrimination against slimmer women. The male lecturer was talking about connotations of words, to which point he opened a slide on his PowerPoint presentation of tall runway models, and the word ‘skinny’ in large letters, he then asked us to feed back to him what kinds of connotations we associated with the word.

Many were negative, as expected, but a couple of students said a few positives. To my shock, the male lecturer immediately critically remarked these positive connotations stating that he personally associated the word with being unhealthy, and malnourished. Wow. How this was acceptable in front of an auditorium full of mainly young women I do not know. Such a sensitive subject that would have offended many in the room. It personally made me upset and angry; people described me as skinny and apparently according to my lecturer that meant I was unhealthy.

The past few years has seen the media celebrate womanly curves and the plus sizes. Personally I think this is fantastic, considering how the media usually relies on a vast amount of photo shopping, resulting in the creation of an unrealistic female. It is good that it has been recognised that a real woman is not necessarily what is seen in magazines or in music videos. All types of women with different body shapes should be appreciated and viewed as just as attractive as the next.

However, this celebration has also led (I personally feel) to putting down, the ‘skinny’ girls.  I think the media and popular culture have slowly connoted ‘skinny’ as unattractive. I hate the word skinny – something I have been described as all my life. From friends, strangers, anyone who has an opinion really, that word has always been thrown at me.

It is as simple as this – I DO eat, so please do not tell me to go eat a burger. Yes – I go to the gym, not to lose weight but to be physically fit. My bone structure is small, I am petite, it’s just the way I am & I DO put on weight if I don’t take care of what I eat or exercise. In fact in my final year of university I put on a lot of weight in a short space of time, yes I did not get noticeably fat BUT I got cellulite, I felt unfit and I no longer fit into my clothes. So I changed this and lost it all, for myself, nobody else, not because I wanted to be ‘skinny’ but because I felt unfit and unhappy with how I was.

People obsess over the fact I go to the gym, more than I do myself; for some reason it is assumed that I go to lose weight, no, couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is the answer; I enjoy it, I want to be physically fit and as healthy as I possibly can be, it makes you feel good, it reduces stress and lessens my anxiety, I think it’s great for your mind as well as your body; it is mentally and physically stimulating.

With that said though, the stigma around slimmer women has increased dramatically over the past few years, mainly down to the attention the media has given it. Alongside this is celebrity endorsement, for example Meghan Trainor’s recently released song ‘All About that Bass’ is a prime example of popular culture making a joke about slimmer women whilst taking pride in curves. The question is why this positive message cannot be magnified via music, magazines, and film whilst not putting down other women in the meantime. It goes both ways, it hurts. The message should be that we are all different shapes and sizes, and that everyone is beautiful.

The lyrics in Trainor’s song include ‘Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size, She says, “boys like a little more booty to hold at night” you know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll’. The media and culture today make it acceptable to ridicule smaller woman with words such as ‘stick figure silicone Barbie doll’ in songs, yet if someone was to call a woman fat it’s horrible (which it is, don’t get me wrong, as said previous it works both ways). This song could have successfully renowned curves and been just as catchy and made just as much money, without undermining smaller women and making them feel unattractive.

My final point is that everyone is different and beautiful in their own way; the obsession with size needs to stop. We are all unique, we all want different things in life, and it is not necessary to compare ourselves to other people’s appearances for self fulfilment and pride.

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