In a society striving to change the old ways of ‘ideal body image’, they often focus on ‘larger’ girls. Which is great and wonderful – but some need to realize that Skinny Girls Have it Hard, Too. They get teased. They struggle with body image. They often get defined by their ‘skinniness’ that people sadly admire, causing them to build their self-confidence on a foundation of their physical appearance. And if that changes later in life? What then?
There’s been a lot of media hype about ‘fat shaming’ for a long while now. Women protesting against photo-shopped magazines or commercials. People are saying ‘ENOUGH’ to an unrealistic or ‘ideal’ image. Meghan Trainor recently got angry that her music video was published without permission with her waist photo-shopped, and made them take it down and use the correct, unaltered one. Such a great role model! I’m glad progress is being made, although we have a long way to go, and am trying hard to teach my kids the same – especially my girl. But what do I do when a ‘friend’ says ‘your daughter can’t look up to her (Meghan Trainor), she needs a role model her own size”.
Yes, that was an actual conversation that happened, as we were standing casually waiting for our kids to be released from school. A car driving by had one of Meghan Trainor’s songs playing, and I mentioned how I like her music and that she’s showing to be a great role model for my girl. The ‘friend’ replied just as I said above – and I was speechless for moment! I asked her, guardedly, why it mattered and she replied with something like “oh, I just mean that skinny girls need to model after skinny girls, so she can’t look up to her. If she (my daughter) tries to relate to fat (her word, not mine) ladies, she’ll just make it worse for classmates that aren’t skinny. You have to be kind to the ‘fat’ girls.”
Guys – WHAT?!?! Luckily my kids came out of class right then so I had a perfect excuse to leave the conversation, because I’m sure I would’ve replied rather harshly. I thought the whole point is to be happy in the body you have, the HEALTHY body you have – whether it’s skinny or not. Or did I miss something? And since when is it just the ‘fat’ girls (or boys) that need to be shown kindness? No skinny people get bullied or have issues because of THEIR size? Then it got me thinking – I WAS the skinny girl growing up, and it’s actually the reason for a lot of the hardships I now face in life.
Being skinny got me teased
I was called names like ‘Dani Long Legs’ or ‘Pencil Legs’. Adults would say it was a compliment because of how skinny I was, but that’s not how the kids meant it. It was teasing.
I Got Praised for My Physical Appearance
The most common ‘compliment’ I got was how skinny I was. Adults would say ‘oh, you’re so lucky to be skinny’ and focus on that physical trait. Something I had little control over (at the time), and that had nothing to with my personality. This made me build my foundation for self-confidence on something that could very likely (and did) change in life. Something not valuable, that meant very little. When I was no longer ‘skinny’ the compliments stopped, so then I felt my worth was gone, too. I still struggle with that, still feel like I’m not pretty because of my weight – but I’m working on that.
I was Skinny, not Strong or Healthy
There’s a difference between being skinny and being healthy, or strong. I was pretty weak when I was super skinny. There were plenty of friends who weren’t necessarily ‘skinny’ but were plenty strong and healthy. I always thought they looked better, anyway, because they looked REAL. But society was teaching me that skinny was better.
I Got to ‘Normal’ Weight, and felt ‘Fat’
I was underweight, wearing a size 0 jeans. That’s not me bragging, just stating facts. After I had Black Widow, I was what was considered a ‘normal’ weight, fitting right smack in the middle of the perfect BMI. But I hated it – I’d been skinny so long, had grown up having that my ‘best quality’ pointed out by people, that I felt ‘fat’. I hated the way I looked, despite being healthier and stronger than I’d ever been. Despite being able to wear clothes that fit comfortably or shopping in my own department instead of hoping to find girl pants that were long enough because women’s jeans fell around my waist.
It Should Be About a Healthy Body Image
This post is NOT to downplay how hard girls (or boys, doesn’t matter) that are seen as ‘fat’ have it. I’m just addressing the fact that ANY size can have image issues and struggles. But we can help fix that, by teaching our kids to value MORE than their body image or size. Don’t just compliment saying ‘oh, you’re so skinny’ or ‘your’e such a beautiful girl’. Don’t avoid those always, because of course I tell my girl she’s beautiful! But don’t make that the focus – don’t let that be the only thing she hears complimented.
Focus on their talents, their gifts, their minds and imaginations, their kindness or courage, their sense of humor or willingness to help others.
Remind them the importance of the qualities that they have control over, the things that REALLY make them a good person or not – because size has nothing to do with the value of a person. NOTHING. And kids need to know that.
My daughter’s turning 10 this year, and already has some image issues because people are commenting on her skinniness so often. I’m trying to fix that, and hope that society can do the same. For the skinny girls, the ‘normal’ girls, the ‘fat’ girls. Those terms really don’t mean much anyway – they’re a matter of opinion, some are just fact. Right now, I’m technically overweight – so according to definition I am fat. But what I need to focus on is if I’m healthy – currently, I’m not, but am working on that. Not to get skinny, but to be healthy. To be strong and have energy to keep up with my kids. Yes, I’d love to fit in a size 3 jeans again, but that’s not my focus or my goal.