Discuss: We Are All “Real” Women

Sep 20, 2013

Earlier this week, a reader left a comment that referred to women who wear sizes 0,2 and 4 as “dwarfs.”  In my reply, I chided her, arguing that her remark was no different or less insulting than referring to women who wear double-digit sizes as giants.  But her comment reminded of this e-card:


It can’t be easy to be a plus-size woman in a nation that glorifies tiny-waisted, thin-thighed supermodels with collarbones that can cut glass as an ideal human form.  Where People magazine declares Gwyneth Paltrow, a woman whose diet regimen was so extreme it gave her brittle bone disease, to be the World’s Most Beautiful.  And where, as the  average clothing size increases, retailers vanity-size their wares to laughable proportions rather than expand their product lines to include tag sizes larger than 16.

But why must “skinny” women be vilified in order for “curvy” women to be embraced and celebrated?  Why does the fact that I wear a single-digit size mean that I’m not a “real” woman?  And why is it okay for the victims of body snark to become bullies so that they can feel a sense of solidarity and personal triumph?

Just take a look at the comments on this pin.  Obviously, some women feel perfectly comfortable disparaging and criticizing their thinner counterparts as “starving” and insinuating that they’re vain or superficial.  How is that any different from deriding plus-size women as lazy or damaged?  Aren’t both lines of commentary equally harmful?

Women talk a lot about changing the way American society thinks about weight, size and beauty.  We’re encouraging girls and young women to be kind to themselves, to love their bodies and embrace their “flaws”.  We’re working to promote the revolutionary notion that a woman’s worth is not defined by the number on a tag, or a scale, or a measuring tape.  But how can we do that when some of us seem to believe that body acceptance is only for women who don’t wear a size small?

I have seen the enemy, and she is us.

We must stop subtly undermining the core lesson that women of all sizes are worthy and powerful and beautiful.  As activist Hanne Blank said, “Real women are fat.  And thin.  And both, and neither, and otherwise.”  No woman deserves to be degraded so that another can feel better about herself.


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  1. Ashley says:

    I love this post. Everything that you wrote is so true!! I go between an 8-12 (depending on a brand). AND I LIKE (ehh learning to love) my body. I honestly have no desire to be a size 0 – but my mom is between a 2-4 and it works for her. People need to stop judging and take a look at themselves and need to learn TO BE HAPPY with themselves before they can say anything.


  2. Meredith says:

    While I agree with your point, I hate the usage of “skinny” and “curvy” as if they’re opposites. I’m 120 pounds, 5’5″ , a size 2/4 and definitely am curvy with a very hour glass shape. I’m by no means fat. Curvy doesn’t mean heavy, and it shouldn’t be used that way.

    • Belle says:

      I feel the same, that’s why I put them in quotes. I would have preferred to use better words. But I couldn’t think of any and a google search didn’t yield any that conveyed the same point. If someone has some suggestions, I’m all ears.

      • KMB says:

        I know a lot of women (particularly thinner ones) don’t feel comfortable using this word, but there’s a sizeable faction of the HAES movement that advocates for the use of the word fat-not in a negative way, but in a descriptive one. I understand why you may not be comfortable using it and why it would offend some people, but I’m all for it. Why does fat have to have such a negative connotation?

    • Jen says:

      Agree with this, as I’m also a thin, curvy woman. I hate that curvy is used to describe larger or plus sized or whatever. I don’t have a better suggestion to describe, unfortunately.

      • ckb says:

        Can I just put a huge DITTO on this? Like, I typically wear a size 2-4 but have trouble fitting into jeans because I play soccer (over-developed thighs/quad muscles) and I have a “curvy” bottom. When I try to bring this up to other women they’re like “no, you’re such a twig.”

        Additionally, my sister is more the “ideal” skinny where she’s 6’0″ all legs, and flat as a board. To most people, I’m considered skinny, but next to her, I always felt stout and stocky. And had a more difficult time finding clothes.

  3. SamW says:

    I’ve always been thin, ranging from a size 2-8 throughout my years (and depending on the store), and I am in no way starving myself. In fact I probably eat more Double Stuffed Oreos in a week than you have in a year. I do get comments about my body and it does affect me just as much as it would a size 12 woman. Growing up I heard endless comments about how I had no curves/boobs/butt/etc, and therefore I was not physically attractive to the opposite sex. I struggled with that until I woke up and said “This is the body I was given — what would you like me to do about it? I’m happy and healthy and that’s all that matters.”

    I hope I can pass that on to my kids one day — we come in all shapes and sizes and those differences are what makes us beautiful.

    • Dr. L says:

      Yes – this is me…

      People can be just as brutal when you are thin and don’t have society’s perfect curves. Men were actually worse to me then women… they made it clear that with no boobs… no guy would want me. People would tell me openly to gain weight… “men don’t like holding bones”…… I even tried to gain weight for them, and then I become chubby with cellulite… and still no boobies. Men kinda suck…

      And I was a perfectly healthy weight, and all my doctors are very happy with my health.

  4. Meg says:

    Well said and thanks for posting!

  5. Montana says:

    In my opinion, it all comes down to JEALOUSLY!!! And unfortunately there is no cure for it…

    • Katy says:

      Are you fucking kidding me? This is exactly the problem attitude right here. Lemme guess women’s studies and african American studies are just peeps being jelly of white men right?!?

      Belle, I expect better of you. There’s a way to acknowledge the real pain of being called a dwarf without minimalizing the vast privileges of being a thin woman.

      • Belle says:

        I’m not trying to minimize the privileges of being thin. I’m simply saying that treating anyone with negativity due to their body size–calling them names, degrading them to prop yourself up, or claiming that they’re jealous as above–is wrong and not helpful to our overall goal, which should be to stop ordering society and a concept of beauty based on size.

        • Chelsea says:

          Maybe, Bell. While I’m the last person on earth to whine about “thin privilege” and “fat oppression,” it doesn’t seem very accurate to say that criticism of thin women’s bodies is just as terrible as maligning heavier women, when the thin get so much affirmation about themselves daily simply because of their bodies.

          • Cynthia W says:

            Yes, it is – calling people bony, a twig, not real – it’s all hurtful and ugly. There are women who find it very painful to not be able to gain weight and be told that they are “built like a boy” or that “real men prefer curves”.

            Nobody has any business commenting on the shape or size of another woman’s body – unless it’s her doctor.

          • Belle says:

            How is calling a size zero woman a derogatory name any different than calling a size 20 woman a derogatory name? Why is your hateful action made better because society is more accepting of zero than 20? That’s like saying it’s totally okay to call a white person a derogatory name because society is kinder to white people, but calling a minority a derogatory name is wrong.

            I’m arguing that deriding any woman’s body, regardless of what size that body is, is wrong. That it is promulgating the same body-obsessed culture and being hateful to other women in a way that holds us all back. Just as we strive for a race-neutral society, we should be looking for a size-neutral one.

          • Katy says:

            @Belle. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Calling a bro wearing Nantucket reds after labor day a douch is vastly less offensive and hurtful than calling a lesbian wearing men’s pants a dyke (unless she has chosen to reclaim that word). Calling John Mayer a man-whore is less of a problem than calling Selena Gomez a slut.

  6. Rachel says:

    True story. Thank you for posting.

  7. Jenn L. says:

    Thanks Belle – I posted a passionate rant on Facebook after seeing three such images or e-cards in one day, one of whom my OWN MOTHER, “liked.” One of them was the one at the top of your post. Granted, my mom is more generously portioned than I am, but I was quite upset. I am more than my size.

    Why am I not real because of my size? Why am I, my mind, my opinions, or work invalid because of my freaking waist and hip measurements? Saying things like this promotes the mentality that they are upset about. Furthermore…degrading ME is one thing. Degrading my spouse because he is attracted to me really grinds my gears. How dare people trivialize HIS worth or character over something like that?! Ack.

  8. Cynthia W says:

    Exactly – I’ve been thin and I’ve been heavy and everything in between – and I’ve been real the whole time. Since working on being healthy and moving back down to the thinner end of the spectrum, I’ve had my weight be subject to endless speculation and commentary. I am by no means underweight (seriously, I’m not even within 5 pounds of the bottom of my range of healthy weight) and people feel free to ask me when I’m going to stop losing weight, if I’m sick, make comments about how shocked they are when they see me eat a cupcake, ask me in snotty tones if I ever eat, etc. Not one of those women ever voiced any concern for my weight when I was dangerously overweight – I’m not sure why they think that it’s okay to discuss my weight with me now, let alone disparage it.

    I also have a sister who is naturally very thin and small chested – being called “skinny minnie” is not a compliment, ladies. She is a also a real woman. I don’t know why people think that they need to knock other people down in order to feel okay about themselves, but it’s nasty and self-defeating.

    By the way – there are men who like all kinds of women, so whatever your body type is, there is a real man who prefers it.

    • s says:

      yes. i’ve been heavy (with the “why don’t you lose weight?” comments) and thin (and subjected to the “you’re soo skinny!” comments) and i’ve decided that people are just crazy and i’m just going to keep on doing my own thing, because either way, those comments are mostly uncalled for.

  9. Alex says:

    Thanks Belle!!! As a naturally skinny girl, sometimes people telling me my body type shouldn’t be beautiful is hurtful. Love whatever type you are 🙂

  10. ohraq says:

    amen! body acceptance goes both ways- naturally thin or curvy or wherever you happen to be is beautiful. I feel as if women think its ok to make disparaging comments about other women who are thin but not the other way around- you have no idea if someone has eating issues or may be naturally thin, its extremely rude to comment on anyone’s weight at all.

    • KMB says:

      I think it’s ridiculous to argue that this doesn’t happen the other way around. Our entire society derides fat women’s bodies on a much larger scale than thin women’s. I’m not saying that makes it OK, but it’s willfully ignorant to argue that body snark is something that only thin women receive.

      • Linnea says:

        I don’t think ohraq meant it doesn’t happen the other way around, just that in most people’s minds it’s more acceptable to make comments about very thin women then it is about very large women. Obviously it happens both ways, one is just more socially acceptable to be saying.

      • ohraq says:

        I never said it doesn’t happen both ways, I said I feel that it is more socially acceptable to make comments about thin women but not fat women

  11. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this post Belle! In the past several months I’ve noticed the Pinterest pins, Facebook posts, and other social media shares with “real men like curves” and other similar sentiments and I have been beyond annoyed. First, we should not be comparing our bodies to one another in such a degrading way and second, we should not be defining our beauty and worth based on a man’s perspective. I love your blog and read your posts daily. Thanks again for this post and all of your entries!

  12. s says:

    amen. i’m one of those dwarfy people (5’0″ and a size 2/4) and it is a serious pain in the butt to find clothes with the correct proportions. i agree with the above that some of it is jealousy, but illness and unhealthy relationships with diet/exercise notwithstanding, how you choose to maintain your body is largely your own choice. so it’s sad that people choose to direct their body image confusions/rage onto other people instead of just dealing with their own insecurities and/or being more accepting.

  13. Amen sisters. Thanks for writing this Belle and getting this conversation going. I agree that there is far too much snarkyness out there. We are as God made us and as we sustain us. I have friends who are naturally small and some who are naturally larger. Some are taller and some are shorter. We are all real women, regardless of our bust to hip ratio. I agree that it is mean and condescending to view real women as larger, busty, curvy women. I’m just gonna say it: Not only does that degrade the value of smaller, non-busty, non-curvy women, but it allows us as a nation to pacify our collective weight gains and allow us to say that not only is it ok, but it’s preferred. We come in all shapes and sizes and I think we should appreciate that but I think that this over-appreciation for “curvy” “real” women can lead to an acceptance of being overweight and that can be very unhealthy. Accepting yourself and also maintaining what is a healthy size FOR YOU is what we should be striving for. Underweight and overweight women (and I have been both) should understand that they are still “real” women and encouraged to be their best real and healthy self, whatever size that is for them. Most of us run the gamut of sizes at different points in our lives, let’s just accept that we are real women whether we are bigger or smaller than our neighbors or than we were a year ago.

    • GoGoGo says:

      We are so, so far from the “overappreciation” of curvy women.

      YOu seem to recognize be lumping large women into two different categories: large women who are the “healthy size FOR THEM” and large women who are–medium sized women who got too large as victims of our “collective weight gains?” or something? In any case, you seem to be acknowledging that it’s possible to be large and healthy. Awesome.

      Is the idea then that if we validate and celebrate the beauty of large women in category A, that’ll only encourage the large women in category B to stay big? That what those category B women really need to get healthy is a culture that uniformly doesn’t celebrate or validate their bodies?

    • Katy says:

      It’s unclear to me how accepting people (even, the hotor, morbidly obese people) and treating them with as much respect as we treat the non-overweight has any impact on health, except perhaps to increase mental health. Unless you’re my doctor, your disapproval of my fat (and yeah, it’s unhealthy for me) is of as little relevance as my dislike of red toenail polish. Except I’m less likely to get a job because of it. Because lord knows being a lawyer requires peak physical conditioning.

      • I’m not trying to say that people that are overweight for their frame/size/comfort level shouldn’t get the same level of respect as people who are not. I agree that we should all give and receive respect regardless of size because size doesn’t have anything to do with our realness. We live in a civilized society and should act like it. And if we have any disapproval of a person’s size then it should be kept to ourselves and later reflected upon because often the thing that we judge in others is the same thing that exists in ourselves. I am just concerned that the overall health and perception of ourselves can go downhill if we coddle ourselves or others and always say “oh you look great”. Validating, celebrating, and accepting our bodies, whatever size, is important. Acceptance of yourself doesn’t mean degrading someone else nor does mean that you are a sell out if you say that you accept the beauty of large women then lose weight. For example, when a celebrity who is touted as a champion for large women’s beauty and sex appeal loses weight, sometimes she is given flack and seen as a traitor to her larger sisters. That kind of ridiculousness is just that, ridiculous. Swords can cut both ways and they hurt each time.

  14. Linnea says:

    Belle, this post is wonderful. Amen.

  15. LeslieJeannene says:

    Belle, I agree with you – but to the women claiming jealousy I am offended. I am in no way jealous of a size 2/4 (or any other size). Would I rather be closer to a 6 than the 8-12 I range? Sure. But I am not jealous of you – I work hard everyday to keep my weight down and I fight to over come disordered eating every day. Saying that anyone is jealous of you is putting you in the same camp as saying curves make you a real woman.

    • GoGoGo says:

      +1! +1! Agreed!

      • GoGoGo says:

        Re reading this, I still think it’s good to call out the yuckiness of the idea of “jealousy,” but I don’t think you needed to highlight your own numerical size to make the point.

        I’m sorry you’ve wrestled with eating disorders. That’s really hard

    • KMB says:

      Completely agreed! I love my body and the way it looks. I’m not jealous of thinner women in the least.

      • Marissa says:

        Yeah, I used to be jealous of thinner women but I’m actually not anymore. I definitely prefer the way my body looks when I work out regularly, but working out regularly doesn’t make me any smaller, it just makes my ass look awesome 🙂

        Skinny is not me and it’s not something I want, which is good because when I was a size 4 I had to make sure to walk slowly enough so as to not fall over from hunger. Nobody can tell me that’s healthy.

  16. Linda L says:

    Yes! This kind of thing bothers me to no end. Not everyone who is thin is obsessive about diet and exercise just like not everyone who is heavy overeats and is sedentary. And look around – women of all shapes and sizes are in relationships. We are all real and we all have feelings.

  17. Reed says:


    As women, we need to stop competing with one another in useless categories and instead empower each other where it genuinely matters. Let’s focus on better things than what BMI makes you more “real.” All women are real women.

  18. kat says:

    Agreed mostly, and this is tangential, but I am also REALLY tired of the “love your body” rhetoric. After many years of eating disorders, I just don’t, sorry not sorry, and some pinterest post that tells me to love myself won’t erase decades of extremely negative thoughts and habits. (very true for many women, given what we’re ingrained with from day 1).

  19. Tiff says:

    Our society focuses way too much on weight and really does glorify skinny (and not just thin) women. It is so ingrained in us that even in this post the vast majority of commenters feel the need to clarify that they are not (gasp) fat, curvy, big-boned, etc. Most of the commenters, it appears, feel this strange need to declare that they are a size 2/4/6 etc. When is it going to stop? Who knows, but we can’t even seem to comment on weight issues in our society without plaguing our comments with weight disclaimers.

    BTW, it really is women who inflict this kind of judgment upon women. There are multiple studies that show the women models in men’s magazines are often 30 lbs heavier than the women displayed in women’s magazines. We strive to be Jennifer Aniston or Kate Moss thin because that is what other females say is beautiful, not what men are saying is beautiful. Let’s not do this to each other.

  20. The_Dash says:

    Real men love confidence.

  21. Pancakes says:

    Thanks, Belle. I really appreciate this.

    I don’t get these comments so much now, but when I was a kid, people would tell me to eat a hamburger. I’m 5’7″ and a size 4/6. I just have a fast metabolism.

    • Belle says:

      People commenting on what others eat is another symptom of the same disease. A friend who wears plus-sizes and I were discussing this the other day. People watch her eat in restaurants or give her the side eye when she orders. It makes her crazy. I get different treatment but with roots from the same tree.

      If I eat, people will say, “Oh, you’re one of those skinny women who eats.” If I don’t eat much or have a salad, they say they opposite, like there’s no other reason I might be eating this way besides my weight. This is usually men.

      Women will comment on my eating by saying, “You’re so lucky you can order dessert” or “if I had your body I’d eat that too.” Why is what I am eating or not eating any of anyone’s god damn business at a professional dinner, lunch, fundraiser or meeting? No one should have to listen to strangers comment on their food choices simply because they look at you and think they know what you should do.

      • CMS says:

        Bella – Thanks for this great post and getting these conversations started, I really love that about your blog 🙂 Even if some people tend to bring negativity, its still great to have these discussions.

        I grew up vegetarian and whenever I eat salads (or anything healthy) at work I always get that comments that are far from positive. Its almost as though people are mad that I’m trying to be healthy. Yet when I do the opposite and eat unhealthy people make the comments about me being lucky I can eat that way and still maintain this body…

  22. Megan Brewster says:

    Great post! Thanks Belle. You should check out the girls at Beauty Redefined at https://www.beautyredefined.net- twin PhDs that have taken on every aspect of body shame and do a great job of recognizing harmful thinking–and promoting healthy ways of knocking it out.

  23. GingerR says:

    I didn’t the dwarf comment, but I find it offensive because, after watching untold TLC shows, I know that being a dwarf is a particular genetic condition, not just someone who is short and/or small. It was a poor choice of words.

  24. Agreed. I do not find jokes that belittle anyone because of their body size funny. My husband loves my body just the way it is. He is not a dog.

  25. GoGoGo says:

    Not Amen! Not Amen! Frankly–yuck!

    I disagree with the premise of this post and I’m a little bit troubled by all the enthusiasm about it!

    There’s no question that bodysnarking by anyone, to anyone is inappropriate, unfunny and unhelpful.

    However, I don’t think the words “equal” or “just as bad as” should be allowed anywhere near this conversation. And all the “yeah belle, get ’em!” comments here are making me a little uncomfortable.

    Belle, in the past you’ve been really (apporpriately) humble on the subject of plus sized fashion. It’s great that you’ve tried to be inclusive and it’s also great that you’ve acknowledged your own limitations and not having experience in that area.

    I’m going to try to do the same and refer to some people with more experience on the subject.

    Here are some serious examples of experiencing daily “bodysnark” from strangers. (I recommend starting from the bottom)


    And here’s a quote from the blogger Roxy of WTF Plus:


    “attn non-fat people: stop trying to make conversations about fatphobia about you. this is not about you, and fat people do not need to make room for you in the one place where there is finally enough room for us. the policing of peoples’ (especially womens’) bodies really sucks, and we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t (“TOO FAT, UNHEALTHY, GROSS !!” vs. “TOO SKINNY, LOOK LIKE A BOY, EAT A SANDWICH, ANOREXIC”), and i do not condone insulting or policing thin peoples’ bodies. however, this is not a binary to fatphobia- we exist in a dominant culture where thin bodies are praised, represented, celebrated, and accommodated. when you are passed up for jobs or lose jobs or make less money because of your weight, are denied access to medical care and health insurance or discriminated against by your doctor because of your weight, when you cannot physically fit into the world around you because it is not made for people your size, when you are asked to pay double the fare on airplanes, when the government declares your body to be an ‘epidemic’ and wages a ‘war’ on it, when you cannot buy clothes in stores, cannot fit in gowns at a hospital, when your credibility is doubted because of your weight, when your chances of being found guilty in a criminal trial are greater because of your weight, when your perceived health is constantly up for judgment and question, when there is no representation of you in media that isn’t the butt of a joke or some kind of crude slob/glutton, when you are blamed for your health or disability because of your weight, when you are constantly told by the dominant culture that you are unattractive/unlovable/disgusting/smelly/obscene because of your weight… when all that stuff happens, get back to me. until then, i do not want to hear about how discrimination against thin people or being told to ‘eat a burger’ or not being able to find a 000 pair of jeans is the same thing as fatphobia; it is inappropriate and personally hurtful and often sexist, but it is not the same.”

    *Note: FYI, wtfplus has a very different tone from this blog. It’s not a fashion blog so much as a humor and cultural politics blog that happens to riffing on horrible fashion. Just know that going in.

    • Belle says:

      Hate doesn’t have to be equal in scope to be wrong. The bullying that overweight people take is horrifying. The fact that some of them then turn around and bully think woman makes the situation worse and feeds the “us and them” mentality.

      • GoGoGo says:

        Not one commenter here has said that that e-card isn’t harmful–but you yourself posited that it’s “equally” harmful.

        This is the line I’m responding too:

        “Obviously, some women feel perfectly comfortable disparaging and criticizing their thinner counterparts as “starving” and insinuating that they’re vain or superficial. How is that any different from deriding plus-size women as lazy or damaged? *Aren’t both lines of commentary equally harmful?* ”

        No, no they’re bloody well not!

        • Your inability to see the harm in deriding someone for their weight is astounding. Just because models in magazines are thin doesn’t mean that young women accept their bodies when they are thin or that the are satisfied with their bodies. You do not know her story, and you do not know her life. It is equally harmful, because stereotyping someone for their size or remarking on a woman’s body in order to make her feel like less of a person is harmful to all women.

          • GoGoGo says:

            We’re going to have to agree to disagree.

            Looking at the comments below, I think we’re coming at this from two very different understandings of the world.

    • Jenn L. says:

      Also, this post wasn’t about fatphobia or hatred. It IS about invalidating someone as being a, “real,” person due to their size. No one says, “Oh you are generously proportioned, you are not a real woman.” The argument is not the same.

      The, “real woman,” comments tend to come from women who perceive issue WITH THEMSELVES (due to outside influence like crappy friends, family, media/advertising pressures or not) and so need to put others down to uplift themselves. And that’s not cool.

    • KMB says:

      Thank you! One commenter even suggested that women think it’s OK to disparage thin women over their size, but not fat women. Is she living in a vaccuum? On a micro level, it’s possible that a comment about one’s size hurts just as much when it’s directed at a thing woman as when it’s directed at a fat woman, but the culture we live in makes it not the same thing at all.

  26. Marissa says:

    I agree that these comments can be hurtful and women should just stop snarking on each other’s bodies altogether, but I just can’t seem to get all that worked up about this any more than I can when I hear a white person complain about being called cracker. I mean, yeah, it wasn’t very nice, but let’s not pretend it’s the same thing. Lindy West said it way better:


    • Jenn L. says:

      Cracker is still an offensive racial slur, and yes, it is the thought that counts.

      • Marissa says:

        It’s not a nice thing to call someone, but let’s not pretend it’s loaded with all of history of discrimination and oppression that the N word is. It is not just the thought that counts, it is also the real life consequences that come along with the bigotry that the name-calling is rooted in. Again, let’s not pretend like those are on equal footing here.

        • Actually, it is, Marissa. Cracker comes from “whip cracker” which relates back to slavery. When someone calls someone white a cracker, they are implying that they condone slavery and that they have actively participated in it.

          • Marissa says:

            I understand where the word comes from. Implying that someone was a slave owner is not the same as implying that someone should be a slave. Would it hurt my feelings to be called a slave-owner? Of course, but would I prefer being a slave? Come on now.

          • I abhor racial disparities and yes, I take DEEP personal offense to the term cracker. It’s derogatory and meant to be hurtful. Regardless of the semantics you’re trying to play, it doesn’t make it right.

          • historian says:

            Still not the same thing, Ms. Dr. Juris. Slave owners were not oppressed; it is not only wrong, but insulting to equate the two terms. Neither term is acceptable under any circumstance, but they are hardly the same thing.

    • GoGoGo says:

      Good note in there:

      “I’ve been writing about body positivity for years now, and I don’t know any mainstream fat acceptance/body positive activists who don’t call out thin-shaming EVERY time they see it. “Real women have curves” is terribly dated and pretty much wholly rejected at this point—at least by credible, respected voices who are caught up on the conversation.

      …In my fairly robust experience, you usually hear it from women who are new to body-positivity—women who’ve been told, every day of their lives, that they’re garbage, and who are finally experimenting with the idea that they can shout the complete opposite and believe it. Now, thin women absolutely do not deserve to be collateral damage in that experiment. But if you really care to look, it’s not hard to see that “real women have curves” isn’t an attack so much as an attempt (albeit a flawed and destructive one) at empowerment.”

  27. I am a size 00 – 4 depending on which retailer you talk to and which part of the body you are dressing (bottom half is smaller), so it annoys me to no end that I see “Fat Acceptance” groups basically saying anyone in my size range is not a curvy, desirable woman. Okay, so I don’t have boobs out to here, and a huge set of hips, but my form and metabolism not something I can change and I am not about to stuff myself and become fatter just to feel like I fit in.

    I’m happiest, and the most energetic when I am thin. That’s it, plain and simple.

  28. KMB says:

    I think it’s important to note that, when a photograph is included in the “real women have curves” type posts, it’s typically still one of a thin woman, just with a curvier body type. At most, it’s a picture of a medium sized woman. Those (admittedly tired, ridiculous) tropes don’t really even glorify fat women, just women with slightly larger butts/breasts/hips than the thinnest of women. (This isn’t in direct reply to Belle’s post or anyone here, it’s just something to think about.)

  29. Carrie says:

    Thank you. I am lean and constantly get made fun of for being too skinny. Peers and elders alike feel it’s okay to make comments about how little (they assume) I eat, when in reality I eat three square meals a day with snacks in between. I’m pretty active – I walk my dog daily and go for short runs a couple times per week. But I am by no means extreme in diet nor exercise habits. I know that I am healthy and I am happy with my body the way it is. Regardless, comments like “What did you have for lunch – a piece of celery?” still make me uncomfortable. I don’t make comments like these to other people because I know how frustrating it feels to receive them. Ladies – love your bodies! Take great care of them! Happiness and self acceptance to us all!!!

  30. JBinDC says:

    Another take on the now infamous ecard: https://themetapicture.com/curves-men-and-bones/

  31. A says:

    Oh my. I just want to chime in and agree with some others who have already made a similar point. It’s eye-rollingly silly to argue that saying a negative thing about a skinny woman is even in the same universe as saying something negative about an overweight woman.

    We don’t live in a vacuum, everything must be understood in context. The context in which we live is one where skinny woman are exalted and reap innumerable benefits, and overweight women are subject to a bevy of ills, many of them well-described above in GoGoGo’s long post. That is not an opinion, that is a fact. So if you are a thin woman, you are a privileged woman. Perhaps you came upon that privilege naturally with good genes, or perhaps you work at your diet and fitness. Either way, you live a life that is objectively easier and with more benefits than someone who is fat. I’m not saying we should say mean things to skinny people though. We all agree that we shouldn’t say mean things. Duh.

    But dear, dear skinny people of the world who are having a woe-is-me moment: you need to stop complaining. No one likes to hear people of privilege claiming about how they’ve got it bad. If you’re rich and you didn’t get as big of a bonus this year so you have to go to Hilton Head instead of Fiji, no one wants to hear you complain about that. Getting a smaller bonus is not equal to the person who can’t take a vacation at all because they work two minimum wage jobs. So please, just be graceful about the situation. People should be nice, but let’s put it in context–it’s not that bad. And if it matters to any of you, I’m skinny.

    • Marissa says:


    • Jane says:

      Totally agree with this and GoGoGo’s comment.

    • Belle says:

      I’m not having a woe is me moment. I’m saying that the negative body culture that causes hate towards overweight people is promulgated and strengthened by hate toward any woman based on body size. So by reversing the anger you are mainstreaming our nation’s obsession with size, which will thereby continue and strengthen the mindset that leads to hatred and degradation based on body size.

      So while you may not consider it as bad, you can’t argue that it doesn’t further exacerbate the problem of size judgment. It may appear less insidious because being thin has benefits, but it just bolsters the foundation that leads to more bullying for women of all sizes.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Wow. Assuming much?

      My freshman roommate was a much larger size than I was and was constantly chiding me to eat and stop being “anorexic,” as she saw it. She would incessantly comment on how bony, unhealthy, and scrawny I was. My BMI at that time was 21.

      How is it “ok” for her to make comments of that nature just because I was smaller than her? I never made comments about her size, diet, and lifestyle – it was not my place to do so. It is NEVER appropriate for one person to degrade another. There are no mitigating factors that make one bully better than another. How dare you make excuses for people who feel the need to build themselves up by denigrating others!

  32. Sarah says:

    I think we should stop talking about women’s bodies period. We are all real women regardless of shape and trying to quantify hurt feelings in regards to comments such as eat a sandwich or fatass is nearly impossible. We all have unique situations and backgrounds that cause different levels of reactions to external comments and actions. In the past two years I have been everything from a size 00 to 18 and am currently a size 10 (lots of medical issues). And you know what, I always felt fairly crappy about my body. Sure 00 had major benefits to 18: I didn’t worry about fitting into airplane seats or being called fatass to my face (which happened) and no one made sandwich eating remarks. But I still couldn’t find clothes in my size and I felt uncomfortable in my body and with myself. And I honestly think that’s it’s more the idea that we as women should always be improving ourselves physically whether its losing weight, adding muscle tone, more makeup, or a better haircut. We, as ourselves, are never enough. And this bickering about whether being too skinny or too fat is worst will never be resolved and only distracts us from the true problem. Instead of these silly squabbles, we need to find ways to change the fact that a women’s worth is often based on her physical appearance as opposed to the (ever cliche) internal beauty.

  33. Elle says:

    To those of you who don’t think negative comments are hurtful to a thin woman, let me assure you that they’re very hurtful. I’ve been naturally thin my whole life, even after having three children. I didn’t diet to get that way. In fact, I actively tried to gain weight. It just didn’t happen. While that may sound desirable to some, believe me, it isn’t. And when women (it was almost always women) would greet me with “Oh my God, you’re so skinny,” or say to someone else – loudly enough for me to hear – “She’s too skinny,” it felt like they’d punched me in the chest. It’s a shame that the idea that it’s better to be skinny than fat made them think it was okay to make such comments.

  34. Johnnie says:

    People keep alluding to the enumerable benefits accrued by thin people but do not support this claim with evidence.

  35. Shelley says:

    Well, this escalated quickly. : ) I’m a 00 petite (and 4’11’) and constantly hear how I must have a fast metabolism, I’m just lucky, etc. Truth is, I weighed more in high school because my diet consisted of Dr. Pepper, donuts and Spree candy. I also noticed myself gaining weight when I moved to DC and discovered Ben’s chili cheese fries and all the amazing happy hours on every street. When I hear about my so-called great metabolism or some actual snotty comments from strangers, I just nod, smile or say nothing because I think it makes other people feel better to think there’s something different about me. I watch what I eat because eating makes me gain weight and people just don’t want to hear that.

  36. GoGoGo says:

    LOL I just logged onto Facebook and guess what was the top thing on my feed:


    True that.

    To that, amen. 🙂

    • Belle says:

      This is true. I once saw a classified ad for a man who was looking for “really hairy” in a woman. Whatever you are, there will be a man who likes it.

  37. Liz says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been tall and thin all my life, so people feel comfortable making well-meaning jokes about my weight or hinting that I might have an eating disorder (I don’t).

    I try to ignore the little voice in my head that says I’m unattractive and to not judge myself by what others (especially men) think of me, but I have to admit that hearing that I’m not a real woman because I’m relatively flat chested really hurts.

    It’s always nice to hear people stick up for women of all shapes and sizes. Thanks for the reminder not to replace one restrictive ideal of beauty with another. 🙂

  38. Addison says:

    When I first read this post, I thought “Right on Belle!” Then I read all the comments and couldn’t believe how many people were trying to argue about who has it harder. Nothing irritates me faster than people who want to compare hardships. We all struggle with something and those struggles are equal in that they are all our own greatest struggle. Just because someone is thin does not mean they lead a charmed life and not all overweight people are unhappy with their body type. Can we just agree to a) stop making rude remarks/giving unsolicited advice to *anyone* and b) stop making judgements based on appearance?

    Can we stop arguing about who has it worse and just agree to a) stop saying mean things about all women and b) stop making assumptions about someone based on appearance? The comments on this post insinuating that thin people lead charmed privileged lives are ridiculous. Maybe they do, but chances are good that most of them struggle on a daily basis with something you know nothing about.

  39. Candace says:

    What is this, a fucking race to the bottom? Being fat is worse, being thin is worse-for the love of whatever you believe in, STOP! Why must we compete about who gets to claim the low ground? It serves no purpose other than continuing to divide. Look at how we have treated one another in this thread. We have merely perpetuated the divide and I feel sure that this was not the point of this post.

  40. Rose says:

    Great post, Belle. I am 5’2 and have been under 100 pounds my whole life. In the first 19 years of my life, I lived in Asia and men in my family would compare my body with LCD (the flat screen TV which made me never own any body-fitting item in my closet.

    I came to the U.S for college and weekly received comments about how skinny I was in my 1st semester. The comments stopped after a few months of me and my roommates going to dinner together. I love my bread, rice & pasta.

    I am in New York City now where you would think skinny people are highly rated. I still encounter people degrading my breast or my frame.

    It is dangerous to look at a skinny woman and assume that she starve herself or not eat. I know it is not true, at least to me.

  41. Gabriela says:

    I agree tremendously with the message of this post, but I also have to agree with some dissenters on the reality of thin privilege. Being “too thin” does not come with the same stigma as being “too heavy,” but that doesn’t mean the comments can’t sting just as much on a personal level.

    I grew up on the thin size of average and developed an eating disorder in my late teen years. Seven years later, I do consider myself “recovered” (I am back to roughly the same size that I was pre-ED, close to the same size as my mother), I have a very heightened awareness of other people’s reactions to others’ bodies, both fat and thin. My relationship with food and my body is nowhere as good as I’d like it to be, but it’s a work in progress.

    I think one of the biggest issues is that it’s more politically correct to comment on thin people’s weights than heavy people’s. When I was at the low end of a healthy BMI, I had people casually drop disparaging remarks about my breast and butt size, or tell me I needed to eat more. Opposite comments are absolutely made to “curvier” women, but I do think it is more taboo to talk about- from what I’ve encountered, those are more likely to be slurred by strangers than discussed among a group of people at a dinner table. And let me tell you, when you’ve dealt with the demons of an eating disorder, you hear enough disparaging comments from your own brain.

    Great topic and discussion!

  42. Charleigh says:

    I’m 6’0″ 130 pounds and range from size 2-4. I haven’t gained a pound in 12 years so I basically have the same body I had as a 14 year old.

    I’m tall, so whatever I eat (and it is a fair amount) just stretches out and I burn calories like an antelope. In high school, people would call me anorexic. It was pretty hurtful as not only was my body that way then, it’s this way 10 years later too. I agree that larger women certainly get more of the brunt of mean comments, but as a impressionable high school student, hearing that people thought I was anorexic or bulimic certainly did not do much for my self esteem.

  43. Ashley says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting this. People don’t seem to understand or, in my experience, care that it’s just as offensive to call someone “too skinny” or to tell someone they need to “eat a cheeseburger” as it is to call someone fat or insist they eat a salad. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum and they’re both hurtful. Make your own decisions for your body, and I’ll make mine.

  44. Thanks for this post, Belle! There’s really no reason to degrade or hold up anyone based on their size.

    Most of use are the size God intended (or the way we’re supposed to be). I can’t make myself any taller than I am; a woman who’s over 6′ and told men don’t date taller women can’t make herself shorter.

    We’re all just human, and we’re all just women.

  45. Brittany says:

    Thanks for this post, Belle! There’s really no reason to degrade or hold up anyone based on their size.

    Most of use are the size God intended (or the way we’re supposed to be). I can’t make myself any taller than I am; a woman who’s over 6′ and told men don’t date taller women can’t make herself shorter.

    We’re all just human, and we’re all just women.

  46. SC says:

    I’m a pretty thin girl and for the most part, the “eat a cheeseburger,” “skinny minnie,” and “are you ok?” comments don’t get to me too much. I realize that I’m pretty lucky to have not had to deal with the body image issues a lot of women deal with and I’m very thankful for it. However, about six years ago, someone in a bar told me that I “looked like a f**king Ethiopian” and that I needed to “stop throwing up and start eating some food” which I found rather offensive, especially seeing as food and I have always gotten along just fine. I would be OK never hearing that again…

  47. Someperspectivehere says:

    We’re all real. The problem is the media bullsh* that sells women this fantasy that you have to look a certain way to be acceptable. It’s not just weight, though that’s a large part of it. It’s skin color, it’s hair texture, it’s being uber fit, it’s being tall, it’s having big tits on an uber thin body, it’s being the right age, it’s all of it. Can we just stop, PLEASE. Also, let’s acknowledge that the extremes aren’t healthy, can we? We don’t have to vilify anyone to acknowledge that starving yourself to thinness and potential brittle bone disease is not healthy and neither is being obese and calling it “curvy” so we won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. I think we can face things head on, call them what they are, but still accept the full dignity of other women. That means not blaming and shaming “push away from the table” “eat a burger.” F* don’t we have enough problems?? Perhaps chief of which is the commoditization of women in this society that I find wholly distasteful, the obsessing on weight and looking appropriate. WTF is the matter with eating well, savoring what you eat, taking walk 30-minutes a day, loving our bodies what every shape and size, wearing what we love, not judging our sisters and just being comfortable in our own skin????

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