I have always been naturally thin. When I was 13-years-old I was a mere 4 feet 9 inches and a whopping 89 pounds. I shopped in the kids clothing department until I was almost fourteen, and was always the flyer on the cheerleading team. I never thought about my weight or frame, that is, until I entered high school.
All the other girls were taller and more developed than me, including all my friends. They all thought I was “cute” because I was so tiny. The names never bothered me until some girls started calling me anorexic.
“Eat a hamburger,” people would say.
“You really could afford to put on some weight,” I would get told.
It bothered me that my weight bothered other girls . I felt bad for being naturally thin, and guilty when girls would tell me they wished they were skinny like me. I didn’t want girls to desire my frame. To me my frame was boyish, not matured and scrawny. I secretly wished for their body type, the type that had a shape and could fit into clothes.
The name calling didn’t stop after high school. When I worked in retail women would tell me all the time if I turned to the side I would disappear. It was a constant flood of words describing my body, and for the person saying them it probably seemed like a compliment, but to me it seemed more like a subtle insult. It was the nice way of saying, “Screw you, you skinny minnie.” I was tired of being made to feel ashamed for something I had no control over.
Recently, one of the SmartFem writers wrote a great article about how society criticizes overweight women however, what we forget is society criticizes every weight, not just overweight.
Each era has had its perfect body type for women. In the 50s every woman wanted to have an hourglass shape like the blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe. Then in the 70s it was the rail thin look the iconic model Twiggy made popular, and in the 80s Cindy Crawford made the healthy athletic look desirable. The 90s saw another trend of thin models with Kate Moss, and women who were flat chested happily went braless like the fearless Kate did. Today, women like Kim Kardashian, voluptuous and curvy, are considered the ideal type.
Circa whatever had its own perfect look and its own definition of the ideal woman, but circa now has an issue with placing ideals on body types to the point women are literally dying to look perfect.
According to NEDA.com roughy twenty million women suffer from an eating disorder sometime in their life. This includes anorexia and bulimia. And many women who suffer from binge eating disorder appear to be overweight.
CNN reported fashion designer and blogger Lauren Conrad made the decision to remove words like ‘thin’ or ‘skinny’ from her website and replace them with words such as ‘healthy,’ ‘toned’ or ‘fit.’ in hopes of removing the labels placed on women based on their shape and size because, as Conrad said, “healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.”
My body may not be the ideal shape this year, but perhaps next year it will. Yet no matter what year or trend may be popular I have to remember to embrace my shape because every shape is beautiful, and none should feel shame.