Skinny is the new fat. Or so a couple of sites would lead you to believe, anyway.
In my recent browsing of the gossip blogs, I came across a post that chronicled plus-sized model Robyn Lawley talking about "the thigh gap phenomenon" on the website Celebitchy. The thigh gap, for those of you who, like me, didn't know, is that space in between a woman's thighs, in particular, a thinner model's.
The post itself was inconsequential. It agreed with Lawley's stance, which was that women should not be trying to achieve this thigh gap phenomenon, nor should women be judged if they don't have a body that sustains the idea. I agree with this as well.
What I found most enlightening were the comments.
Weighing in at a whopping 105 pounds stretched over my five feet, four inch frame, I can safely say I have never had weight issues. Body issues, sure. But weight issues? Never. I love my body -- the shorter version of my mother's 5"10 frame -- and I am grateful every day for it. That being said, it doesn't mean I didn't and still don't go through body image issues, particularly when it comes to my lack of curves.
If you went though one of my journals from maybe sixth grade until tenth grade, there would be countless entries written about a boy who humiliated me in front of the cafeteria by telling me he was going to get me a frying pan for Christmas for my pancakes. Or about the embarrassment of taking off my shirt in gym glass because I didn't want anyone to see how incredibly padded (or stuffed) my bra was.
It took me years to appreciate my body. And ironically, it was models for Victoria's Secret who, like me, were slightly on the bonier side, some of whom were even flat-chested, that made me feel better about myself.
So, in reading the comments section on a blog post about body image acceptance, I had to laugh at the countless women who made comments about women with "boy bodies" being unattractive. About women who are skinny not eating or spending their lives working out. About women who do have the thigh gap being unattractive, anyway, and who would want that? About real women having curves and normal women being size 10. Which makes me... abnormal, I guess?
Their inability to see how counterproductive their comments were was what made me laugh. Here they were on a blog post where a plus-size model is telling women to love their bodies no matter what, and so many of these women were simply loving their bodies by way of comparing them, negatively, to women who had bodies different than them.
Do I think skinny women have it as hard as heavier women? Not really, depending on the situation. As I said, I've never struggled with my weight. I am also not ashamed to be seen in a bikini and while shopping can sometimes be tricky (00 and XS aren't always on the racks, ladies, let's be real), I am grateful for those problems that come along with a body I am incredibly proud of. With that being said, I'm still a woman.
I still get insecure and I still have a body that people judge. And what I've learned is, it isn't the skinny folks who judge me the most -- it's the heavier ones. It is the women who are self-conscious in their own right and, much like skinny girls who pick on heavy girls, feel the need to point at something different from themselves and tear it apart in order to find worth in their own bodies. It's the basic tenant of bullying: Telling me -- or any other thin woman -- that I am not "normal" and probably anorexic, or that I spend my life in a gym (haven't been to NYSC in almost three years, thanks) or that real men like curves, only dogs like bones... it's all a front in order to ease your own self-consciousness.
Being skinny doesn't make a person beautiful. Nor does being heavy or having big boobs or curves. Beauty is how you express and own the body you were given (or the body you molded). If you express it by putting other women down or create a form of "other," well, that says more about your ugliness than the scale ever could.
I am only human, and more often than not, see women with "perfect" chests or butts and find myself jealous. But do I knock them down in order to make myself feel better? Of course not. I remind myself I have my own well of beauty, whether it's my abs or my legs or my knowledge of sports or my loyalty to my friends and family. We're all human, we all experience jealousy. But I think using it as motivation -- whether it's motivation to find other things about yourself you love more, or motivation to get your body to where you'd be happier -- is a much better option than using it as a bullying weapon.
Body acceptance campaigns are great because they address the fact that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. But I also think they inadvertently pit women against each other.
I love my body. I don't need to mock or judge anyone else's in order to love my body. I don't need to point out things I find unattractive on other women's bodies in order to highlight the things I find attractive about my own. And neither does anyone else. You don't need to tell the world you find the thigh gap unattractive in order to let the world know you love your thick thighs any more than a skinny girl needs to say she finds large breasts unattractive just to highlight her love for her own flat ones. Love yourself for what you have, not what other women have. Everyone has their own form of beauty -- no one needs to attack another in order to own it.