My mum is very thin.
She wasn’t always, though. In her late teenage years and early twenties, she was quite overweight. Dare I say, borderline obese?
Now, though, she’s tiny. At 52 years of age (and about 47kgs on the scale), she struggles to put and keep weight on.
She is constantly told how skinny she is by friends, family and even people she’s just met. If she were heavier, do you think people would be drawing as much attention to her weight; at least to her face? I doubt it (with the exception of the media if she were a public figure).
Why do people feel the need to objectify and vilify thin women—using their weight as a weapon against them? Is it because it’s un-PC to do so with a fat person? Because they’re jealous? I would tend to lean more towards the former.
I have received this treatment myself, and while my body is nowhere near the slight size of my mother’s, I do try to take care of it by exercising. And to offset the fattening effects of my sweet-tooth indulgences. (The other day I ate a whole block of Cadbury Top Deck. And another whole block the following day!)
I wasn’t always the size I am now, either. (Truth be told, however, I have always hovered around a size 12; now I’m just more toned and lean towards a size 10.) In high school, my weekends usually consisted of sitting on the couch watching Friends and Will & Grace and eating. I led a very sedentary lifestyle back then; the difference between me then and me now is the fact that I exercise to counteract hours spent at the desk (okay, I won’t lie; it’s usually the couch!) blogging, or evenings spent chilling out with some books, magazines, blogs and TV.
So what gives people the right to blatantly draw attention to a small frame to the inhabitant of that frame? Don’t get me wrong; inhabitants of a larger frame have attention drawn to them all the time. But we usually have the decency to not do it to their faces. I don’t know which is worse; personally, that kind of thing is water off a duck’s back to me. Because I come across as cold, aloof and feeling-less, people think I have emotions of steel and they can say and do anything they want to me. I can take a lot of shit, but people like my mother can’t. People pointing out her pin-thinness is a sore subject for her; it’s not like she wants to be that thin.
I think it comes down to a similar school of thought that slut-shaming belongs to. And that seems to be that women who sell their bodies out to succumbing to the ideal shape or to receiving sexual pleasure are at the mercy of ridicule from others.
In this day and age, we’re learning to accept the curves of a larger woman (but only as large as the advertising and magazine industry displays as acceptable). But when can we learn to accept that women do take care of their bodies, and shouldn’t be singled out for doing so. More importantly, though, when will we learn to accept that some people really just can’t put weight on, and they shouldn’t be targeted as succumbing to the narrow beauty ideal presented by society. Much the same way as overweight people shouldn’t be targeted for not succumbing to it.