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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Skinny bashing

This Sunday I went to the baby shower of a friend from pharmacy school.
(This baby shower, by the way, had me in frantic crochet mode. I put off starting her baby's sweater until this week, so the whole drive to Manchac and back I was speed-crocheting to get it done).

Baby showers don't generally rock my socks off, just because I find it very hard to feign interest in baby gifts. How many "awwww"s do I have to generate for decorative bottles and onesies with ponies on them? At least at bridal showers I can steal decorating ideas.
But it was good to see some pharmacy school friends I hadn't seen in awhile, especially as there was some super juicy gossip about one of our associates.

This gal...
- Got married to an ex-boyfriend and got pregnant while in pharmacy school.
- While pregnant, had an affair with her also-married boss. 
- Which caused bosses' wife to commit suicide
- Gal did not yet divorce husband, but
- Gal is now pregnant with bosses' child.

Good gosh. I'm speechless.
Anyway, back to the shower. Like many social events in Louisiana, this one had it's fair share of overweight and obese attendees. As in, most of them. Louisiana isn't doing so well as far as health and weight and diet go.
And something occurred that I've observed a lot at these events. As the cake was being cut, one guest - slender - declined cake. She was instantly showered with abuse. Actually, the verbal assaults started before she declined: When asking her if she wanted cake, the mother of the honoree called out, "Hey skinny! I know you could use some cake!"
When the girl said she didn't want any, all I could hear was sarcasm and insults.

What? Are you trying to lose weight?
Good grief, you need to eat some cake!
Oh brother, make us all look fat, go ahead!
You can eat it just this once, geeze, it won't kill you!
Yeah, you look like you never tasted cake in your life! 
Pfft, she probably just wants to lick the knife after you're done serving.

I don't know when this nonsense became acceptable, but it's downright commonplace in public. The poor girl was like, um, I just don't like white cake. Not only is it ok for her to pass up cake, it's ok to be skinny! It's not a crime! Yet it isn't just showers where I see this. Online forums claim that "All REAL women have cellulite" and praise companies who use overweight models, saying they are REAL women. When celebrities lose weight they're criticized, even if they are still a healthy weight. Choosing healthy options over sugary snacks is praised if it's done by someone trying to lose weight, but if you're already thin and skip the cake you get snide remarks.
When did we start condoning skinny bashing? Imagine if the situation at the shower was reversed. I can just see the reaction if an overweight guest accepted cake and everyone condemned her for it. If people told her, "You're already fat, have an apple for once!" or muttered, "Watch, she probably wants the piece with the most icing" - well, we'd be appalled. But we can do the exact same thing to our thin friends.
What gives?
Have you seen this? Have you responded?


  1. I can completely relate to this... has happened to me my entire life. I do not understand why it's acceptable and it's mean. I have wanted to reply with snarky comments, but just haven't felt it's necessary to stoop to that level.

  2. Oh my goodness - crazy! I'm glad you posted about this because while I don't get it about being skinny, I've gotten it about being fit - people saying what are you working out so much for, you are already in greate shape blah blah blah. It is infuriating that people are chastised for making healthy decisions. I do feel the glares though, when I decline a less than healthy food choice - I am choosing to eat healthy because it makes me feel good! You make very good points and it just shows how off our society is.

  3. Wow! You wrote what I've been thinking for a while. I'm on the thin side- definitely "skinnier" (healthier active etx) than most around me. Whenever we have lunches at our work and I decline the cupcake or whatever, I get showered with the same- "one piece won't kill you- you're thin" "are you on a diet? You're already too skinny!" OMfG I hate it. I now eat lunch in my office because what I bring to lunch has been judged- both ways. Burrito as big as my head one day became "well you'll run it off" hate this crap. Dare I say anything to the obese diabetic reaching for a slice of cake...

  4. I got this on Saturday. I had just left brunch with some friends then went to a kid's birthday party. I was still full from brunch, and when I declined a cupcake, I got the "toothpick" comments. And I'm not super skinny! It wasn't even that I was declining because it was cake; it was all because I had stuffed my face less than an hour earlier, but people just don't get it.

  5. Whoa! Where do Pharmacists hang out? I want to eavesdrop.

  6. I have had this happen to me plenty of times, although I wouldn't classify myself as "skinny." Sometimes I'm just not hungry or I don't like something. It's just as rude as if you were to tell an obese person they should NOT be eating cake. We are all grown ups, we can make our own food choices, whether they are good OR bad.

  7. I think people feel like it's okay to say it because calling someone skinny (even if they are going too far) is still a compliment. Not that I'm condoning them by any means!! Berating someone for what they are/are not eating is not okay. In the preschool, we say it like this, "You worry about you," but us adults can say, "Mind your own business!"

    I would be more concerned with what the "skinny" girl's reasons for declining the cake are. If she's terrified of any fat/sugar/pleasure, then I feel sorry for her. Eating cake at baby showers/ weddings, and birthdays is a sweet part of life, and it won't kill you to take a couple of bites. It's a way to share in the other's person's excitement, silly as it may seem. I say this as someone who used to be anorexic. I refused anything with fat or sugar or anything that would bring me pleasure to eat. I put a lot of people off because I had so many restrictions. Though I hated the unwanted attention I got, a part of me remained slightly smug that I had the willpower to say no when others didn't. Of course, there are a million reasons she could have said no, and only she knows for sure.

    Thank you for giving us some good "food for thought" and some good discussion too. I enjoy reading your blog.

  8. First, wowzers--what a mom to be! And I totally get not being into baby showers. I even have kids and I find them painful!

    Ok, the weight thing. It's crazy! Of course it stems from a lack of self esteem and jealousy of the thin one. I don't see it much here b/c I am lucky enough to live in a very health-minded community. But any event I might go to back in Ohio, where I grew up, and that's the kind of stuff you'll see/hear. Such nonsense.

  9. I get it a lot when I don't eat something (and I am NOT skinny) but I have food allergies and I often can't eat things, and people just assume it is because I am the crazy dieting runner.

    The pharmacy girl gossip - IKES!

    And "speed crocheting"! HAAAAAAA! Love it. :)

  10. I have definitely experienced this, especially when I go back home to Illinois. If I decline a dessert or extra helping, I am met with a resounding "one piece isn't going to kill you!" or "don't tell me you're on a diet."

    On the other hand, sometimes people assume that because I'm a runner I can eat whatever I want and stay skinny. By the way, I'm not skinny, I'm just healthy. The truth is, running isn't what keeps my weight where it is, eating healthfully does. I eat balanced meals and I don't overeat (too often).

    People have so many assumptions about people that are thin or in good physical shape. Sometimes people make uncomfortable jokes when I decline a certain food like "well, that's why you're skinny and I'm not!" I know this is out of guilt or shame from them but I want to shake them and say, don't feel guilty for eating a cupcake just because I'm not! We all need to stop paying so much attention to what everyone else is putting in their mouths. As a culture, we're obsessed and it is quite annoying.

    Great post!

  11. I think that people find it easier to judge/harangue skinny people because skinny is seen as desirable. People also clearly have too much time on their hands, because I know my life is too full to monitor whether or not my friends are eating cake.

  12. Ha! You won't catch me touching that white cake! It is disgusting! I agree with a lot of your thoughts here. I also think that as a society we are obsessed with thinness. WE consider people who are overweight as lazy, but this issue is much more complicated than that. I work with women with binge eating, bulimia and anorexia, and their thinking and behavioral patterns are so hard to change. I think as a society we look at food as much more than it should be, fuel. I mean, who cares if someone eats or does not eat cake? And I hate how many skinny women talk about how much icecream and junk food they eat (bloggers too!). I admire that woman at the party for not "fake eating" the cake and for standing up for herself here.

  13. I hear you! I get it ALL the time about my running. "Why do you run so much? You don't need to lose weight!". I'm not running to lose weight! I'm running because I ove to do it! And it makes me feel great!

    I agree with the person above who said people think they can get away with it because it's a "compliment". It's not. In fact a lot of times people are implying skinny people are less of a woman because they don't have curves. It's a lame thing to do. One thing that really gets me is people who post pictures on facebook of people like Marilyn Monroe and say "This is what a REAL woman looks like". Dude, we can't all be babes like Marilyn Monroe. It doesn't help the situation to constantly invite comparisons. Skinny people can be beautiful. Fat people can be beautiful. And everything in between! The great thing about people is we all have different tastes and no matter what people look like there's someone who will appreciate you!

    Okay, went a little ramble-y there, but I really wish women could be a little more supportive of one another and a little less judge-y.

    By the way, have read your blog for awhile, but I don't think I've posted before? Hi! I stumbled upon your blog when looking for Baton Rouge Beach Marathon Reviews (I'm running it in December) and have been reading ever since!

  14. OMG to the pharmacy gossip. I cant believe stuff like that happens in real life.

    Re: the skinny comments, I dont understand why people think that it's okay to insult, taunt, name call thin people but calling someone fat or overweight is taboo. I was constantly taunted through high school and college (some "friends" even told me that I was skinny like a "crackhead" - nice right) and I really feel that it's unfair and inappropriate. That girl who didnt eat the cake had no effect on anyone else so I dont understand the uproar.

    I've told people that if they dont want me to comment on their weight or body, not to comment on mine. It seems to have worked for now!

  15. I can completely relate. I've been skinny my whole life and am fed up with these sort of comments. When I get the question, "How are you so skinny," I usually retort with, "I eat healthy and exercise." Seems to shut people up about it! ;) Kristen

  16. how about a recent comment from my Louisiana father-in-law after seeing some healthy food on my stove .....and I quote "what, do you want to live to 100 or something?"

    no, I just want to be healthy and feel good while I'm here ! I don't want to be like many people and pop a hand full of pills am and pm (apologies to the pharmacist - lol )

  17. I agree with Kate...sadly it has become OK to be rude to people who are thin for some reason.

    since my weight loss I get all kinds of no so kind comments from people who have no clue that I ACTUALLY DO WANT TO EAT the freaking cake....

    and that even US WEEKLY cannot beat that.

  18. Popular post here girl! Love reading the comments. Gosh, I got raked for how skinny I supposedly got during my marathon training last year. It wasn't like I was getting thin on purpose. But yeah, there was so much judgement. I see it the other way around too though.

  19. It's definitely not ok to skinny-bash (and this is coming from someone who's not skinny at all).I don't see any difference between that and making fun of someone for being overweight.
    There can be many reasons for her not wanting to eat the cake...maybe she has an allergy to something in it,maybe she had something sugary earlier or is planning to go out and eat later.Or maybe sugar makes her not feel too good,or she doesn't have much of a sweet tooth,or she could just be trying to stay slim,all of which are fine,as long as she doesn't overdo the last one.Though it's fine to rarely eat cake,it's just when you start restricting healthy foods you're really in trouble.I remember seeing on a pro-ana site "I think maybe I ate too much fruit today" when they had maybe three servings of it and not much else...

    I was rather in shock when a girl I know who I think is beautiful thought she was too skinny...I didn't think she was,she has a petite frame,but she would watch herself dance (she's in ballet),and not like how skinny her legs look.

  20. It's definitely NOT ok to bash anyone for their body image. Ever. Skinny jokes are just as bad as fat jokes. Neither are acceptable.

    That said, I'm not sure I agree about the media commentary on "real women." There is a ton of statistical evidence that the glorification of ever-thinner models (read: photoshopped and/or anorexic) has a strong correlation with increased rates of disordered eating and low self esteem. Google "pro-ana" for a sense of what I'm getting at.

    Thin isn't a problem. Disordered eating is. (In either case, no one should be singled out or picked on. Ever.)

  21. I love the conversation that this post provoked. I rarely eat cake. I find the butter cream frosting disgusting. Not because I am trying to lose weight, I can down a whole box of cheese-itz in one sitting, but more so because it's not my thing. And people have made comments, for sure. The worst was when I was in Portugal; if you think fat girls want skinny girls to eat more cake, you should see the Portuguese mothers trying to get me to eat 7 pounds of bread and meat and telling each other that I am "too skinny" and I "must be sick" and I "barely eat" because I was trying to keep it down to three meals a day!