The other day, a friend on Facebook posted two pictures.
The first was of a tall, slender, model-esque girl, stretched up in a ballerina-like pose that made her look even thinner and taller. The friend introduced the picture with a “She is beautiful.” But the commenters weren’t so kind. Throughout the 60+ comments were scattered phrases like “I don’t know about that one,” “Eewww!” “Looks [photo]shopped,” “Too skinny,” “Bones sticking out,” “She looks like… she’d blow away, haha,” “Alien,” “Where do her guts fit in there?
The second picture was also introduced with a “she is beautiful” by my (male) friend. This one was two images of a larger women, model Tara Lynn, who carries weight in her thighs and hips. She has a body type that the media and fashion industry like to call “curvy” (a misnomer to me, as I’ve observed that most women have curves, and many women are both slender and curvy). The comments on this picture veered far away from name-calling and derision. “I love healthy girls,” “Beautiful,” “Gorgeous,” “I love her,” “Nice curves” were the words applied to this second woman.
These two pictures provided me with some food for thought.Why the overall difference in reaction to the two women?
Is it because some women feel threatened by thinner women that they feel like it’s okay to deride them? Do they fear that they are being held to some standard that they can never achieve when someone posts a picture of a naturally thin, fit women? Or, perhaps, are their cruel comments out some kind of twisted concern for thinner women? Do they think by insulting one thin, fit, and (presumably) healthy woman, they will solve the problems of other women who struggle with eating disorders?
Why is it okay to call women gross, alien, photoshopped, fake?
Why is it okay to assume one woman is healthy and the other not based simply on appearance?
The first woman will never look like the second, no matter how much she eats. The second woman will never look like the first, no matter how little she eats. Their bodies are just made differently. Neither is “wrong.” Neither is “right.” I think both are beautiful.
Maybe this hits closer to me because I have been called many of the above things. I have been accused of having fake boobs because I am naturally busty. I have been told I should be a porn star because of my “assets.” I have been called “too skinny” countless times because I have a naturally thin waist. People, especially other women, seem to often think that it’s somehow okay to form judgments on others based solely on appearance.
I have never thought it was okay to comment on the bodies of others, except for a casual compliment here or there.
What would such commenting look like?
“You have such big thighs. Shouldn’t you work out?”
“Wow, your boobs are really small. You’re obviously not as womanly as I am.”
“You’re too fat. You should eat less.”
“You’re so scrawny. How do your internal organs fit in there?”
“Your butt is really big. You should be a porn star.”
Incredibly rude, right? I would never say such things. Yet people, friends, have said similar things to me about my body. You’re too skinny, you should eat more. Your boobs are really big, you should be in porn.
Why is this somehow “okay”?
What do you think the reactions to the pictures are based on?
Have you ever been “body shamed”? Have you ever realized that you’ve judged others based on appearance alone?