I am skinny, have a thigh gap, and my ribs show through my skin. I have been called toothpick, string bean, and a variety of other names. I have experienced skinny-shaming, but what I haven’t experienced and probably won’t, is people fearing and disliking me for the size and shape of my body. Whether you support the idea of body shaming or not, there is something that needs to be made clear: Skinny-shaming is not equivalent to fat-shaming.
The difference is that there are multiple levels of oppression targeted towards those who society considers to be overweight than those who society considered to be underweight. To understand body shaming, it is important to understand the intersectionality of the problem.
The media is notorious for perpetuating this cycle of representing only one or few body types, which sets unrealistic goals in the minds of those exposed. Most commercial advertisements targeted towards women feature a model that enforces the idea of a slim body as the “ideal size.” While there may be some comments made about how a skinnier model needs to eat or how she is too thin, a model with the smaller figure, is representing and enforcing the socially accepted body type.
However, a plus-size model–and I use that term lightly—is underrepresented and has a greater voice judging her. The plus-size model deals with another level of oppression that the thinner model does not, and that’s fatphobia—the idea that people fear being fat and dislike those who are considered to be overweight. Although both types of shaming discriminate based on a less than ideal body type, there is one that is considerably more accepted than the other. Being skinny is simply not a common fear, but being overweight is.
There is an argument that the idea of body shaming is just an excuse for people to be lazy and maintain an unhealthy lifestyle. However, if that is the case, then why do we insist on shaming skinny people by telling them to eat a cheeseburger as an argument for them to improve their body, and then turn around and shame someone who is overweight for eating the same thing? It does not make sense.
The solution to “eat a cheeseburger” is not going to benefit either person’s health. Body shaming is not an effective solution, it is nothing but a mere excuse to maintain the status quo. You cannot determine someone’s health just by looking at them, period.