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.