Recently on Tik Tok, I have seen the debate of which is worse, fatphobia or skinny-shaming.
This is a highly controversial and sensitive topic for a lot of people. The reality is that body shaming of any kind is not okay. No one has a right to share their opinions about someone else’s’ body, no matter their intention in doing so. I’ve heard people justify it by saying, “I just care about their health,” but when it comes to anyone, skinny or fat, their health is between them and their doctors.
Another thing to point out is that any comments about a person’s body are bound to affect them. Again, whether it be skinny-shaming or fat-shaming, they can both equally damage a person’s image of themself. This causes issues with self-love, confidence, mental health, and how you value yourself as a person.
There is still a very significant difference between the body-shaming between a fat person and a skinny person. This is the idea of the beauty standard.
As a society, we have placed a value on health. Health is essential, but we seem to have misplaced the idea of being healthy with being skinny. Being skinny does not make you healthy, just as being fat doesn’t make you unhealthy. A vast number of things contribute to your overall health, and how you see others isn’t one of them. But alas, since to societies’ mind skinny = healthy, this started the idea that a thin body is ideal.
Growing up, we all saw it, even if we didn’t know what it was. There is a particular value placed upon you when you’re skinny. In magazines, on television, or in the movies, all you would see are thin people. Having this as an example has taught us that thin is the ideal state; this is the body that you want to have. The beauty standard is skinny women because that’s all we grew up seeing.
In recent years we have seen progress, especially with the growing body positivity movement. It began to allow bigger women to accept themselves and feel beautiful no matter what their scale said. With this movement have come other women who point out that all bodies are beautiful. Yes. All bodies are beautiful. But the campaign wasn’t created for all women; it was created for those who have been marginalized by society- fat people.
I believe that everyone has some bit of fatphobia within them. If you ask a person, “would you rather be super skinny or super fat?” you already know what their answer will be. No one is scared to be skinny, yet people are terrified to be fat.
Skinny people and fat people may experience body shaming within their lives, but there is a difference in the frequency and intensity at which it will occur. Overweight people are stared at when they go places because they “take up too much space.” Fat people will get targeted at school and be bullied, sometimes even physically, because of their appearance. Skinny people get shamed and teased, and it’s not right, but I don’t believe it will ever compare to the experiences of their counterparts.
Pretty privilege is also a real thing, and as we’ve discussed, skinny often equals pretty. Pretty people statistically make more money. They get more opportunities; they are typically more popular too. It isn’t a conscious thing; it just happens because it’s the way our brains have been hardwired.
Fat people and skinny people are also treated differently in terms of eating disorders. When most people picture eating disorders, they imagine someone underweight, frail, fragile; these are the people you expect to have ED’s. Binge Eating Disorder is also an actual eating disorder, and it can affect people of any size, same with Bulimia. The face of ED’s is often skinny, and because of that, fat people go undiagnosed. Those who struggle to lose weight are called lazy, but no one knows what their health looks like or why they may not easily lose weight.
Bullying affects everyone differently, and shaming someone about their size is awful because it’s not something that can be immediately fixed. As someone who has been big my whole life, I still remember the kid who labeled me elephant girl and called me “elephante” because of it. The way I have been treated has severely damaged my relationship with food, and I know that I’m not alone in that.
I’m not here to invalidate anyone’s experiences because everyone has heard things that cause them pain and damage. I believe that in the world of body-shaming, the differences between skinny-shaming and blatant fatphobia need to be acknowledged.
Please feel free to leave any opinions (without being rude) or stories below in the comments.