It wasn’t the worst example of misguided body positivity I’ve seen, but CHEESESLAVE’s Bottoms Up To the Hourglass – Why Thin is Not Traditional post last night slapped me across the face and pissed me off. I want the real food community to do better. The message was clear, and it’s one that goes around under the guise of body-positivity on a regular basis:
Curvy is hot, skinny is not.
But that’s not the body I was given. I’m a carpenter’s dream: flat as a board. Growing up, I sat on the bus with books or bags on my lap, covering up the fact that there was space between my thighs, even though my knees were touching. The boys would snap other girls’ bra straps, but couldn’t find mine and laughed. Then there was the time I got in with the cool girls and they had me crank call the most popular boy in school. Trying to figure out who it was, you know what he asked? “What’s your bra size?” I hesitated. He guessed. The cool girl was a perfect 32 C.
It hasn’t stopped. I’ve had children innocently ask if I’m a grown-up, because I’m so flat-chested. Dinner table conversation with distant relatives has revolved around my being so skinny. Perfect strangers have even stopped the show to make my size an issue. A few weeks ago I was at a party talking with a friend and a random woman came and interrupted our conversation to comment on what I was eating and how skinny I was… referring to me in the third person.
Crystal clear in my mind is every single time someone has uttered the words “skinny bitch” or said “never trust a woman whose thighs don’t touch,” or proudly proclaimed “REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES!”
I’m Taking It Personally
Now, I know I’m not alone in this, y’all. Most people in our culture have grown up thinking their body is far from perfect. I realize that I get lots of privileges by being thin, and for every slight I’ve received based on my body size, my fat friends have experienced something on the order of a hundred more. If we want to change that for the curvy people among us, we’ve got to change that for everybody.I tried to point that out and got told I was being defensive, was reading into a simple celebration of hourglass figures, and was engaged in shameless self-promotion, just fighting to try and bring someone down. Yes, I took it personally in light of my own issues. But you don’t have to be skinny to see the problem.
Body acceptance is not about finding a new ideal, especially not one that’s super-sexy and barely achievable for anybody. What I saw there was not a simple celebration.
The Adipositivity Project (NSFW) is how that’s done!
Here are the quotes I was reacting to, which piled up on similar things I’ve seen there (and elsewhere) in the past:
“Thin is not traditional”
“Until very recently, skinny was not attractive.”
And the final quote in the article from a song I still like and am NOT offended by when it plays on the radio because it actually is playful, fun, and the expression of one man’s attraction, rather than the advice of a prominent health blogger:
“Cosmo ain’t got nothin’
to do with my selection.
Ha ha, only if she’s 5’3″
Does this sound accepting of all people to you? Or is it the celebration of one figure at the expense of another?
Ann Marie did another thing that really bothers me whenever I see it. She equated being skinny with being unhealthy, and brought her idea of what it is to look healthy back to what we eat.
“Do you really think it’s a coincidence that we have an ever-growing number of women who have lost their sex drive, don’t menstruate, can’t get pregnant, and/or can’t nurse their babies?”
And brought it back to making assumptions about what people eat:
“Because if you can’t eat the ice cream, what’s the dang point anyway?”
In the comments, responding to me when I said I’m skinny:
“It’s the low fat diet that is causing women to lose their hips and breasts”
Funny… that’s what they say about the fat people, too, right? That their size is the problem? That they’re not eating right? I recently read a blog about how fat people get all their ailments blamed on being fat. So they’ll go in to the doctor and have major problems go unnoticed because all the doctor can think to say is lose the weight. While extremes in size can be indicators of underlying health issues, they are not the cause, and they don’t always mean poor health.
Is Your Opinion is Only Valid if You’re Healthy?
I never claimed to be the picture of health. Actually, I’m dealing with some pretty sh*tty (literally!) health issues. But when I put it out there that the diet choices I make help me feel better (and make me thinner, by the way), I got told those things aren’t really my issue. If I was on the right probiotic I could eat anything. If the grains were properly prepared, I’d be fine with them. If I ate ice cream & traditional foods I’d have a super sexy hourglass figure, too, right?
Just because some people eat grains and sugar and do fine doesn’t mean it works for me. It’s my body, I’m the expert on my experience of living in it. The same is true for you, whatever your size, whatever you eat.
It’s pretty obvious that I’m all about traditional foods, grain-free & sugar free living, GAPS principles, and the like. I think this way of eating can help a lot of people resolve many health problems and feel better, while being more environmentally responsible. Even so, I agree with Ann Marie that eating this way to try and get skinny is generally a terrible idea.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Not everyone will benefit from eating the way we do, and not everyone who might benefit physically is in the emotional place to do it. I just want us all to get away from the idea that body size and shape are the measure of a lifestyle’s success. There are so many factors that go into our size and shape… genetics, personal history, emotions, health conditions… diet and exercise are only a small part of that puzzle. Our size may change with lifestyle changes, but most of us aren’t going to end up with the perfect body of our dreams no matter what we do.
So here it is: I believe in body acceptance for every body. A smokin’ hot hourglass figure? A super lean, tall model? A muscular athlete? Really fat? Pear bottomed? Apple bellied? Stretch marks? Flabby skin? Skin and bones? Healthy or not, conventionally attractive or not, these are the bodies we are living in. Until we celebrate them, no – LOVE them, we’ll be at war with them.
Being at war with our bodies is no way to get healthy or feel good! I want to see our real food movement embrace all people, regardless of where we are in our journeys, no matter what we look like, or what health issues we are dealing with.
- The Weight of the Nation
- The Weight of the Nation: Part One, Consequences
- Curvy is Hot, Skinny is Not?
- Wheat Belly Book Review
- Weight Loss is Not the Answer
- Can You Eat That?
- Crazy Diet People
- Empowering Kids on Special Diets