Body positivity isn’t just for one body type

Illustration: Marta Kierkus

I started my teen years understanding that my desire to lose weight and gain people’s acceptance was sparked by society’s definition of “pretty.” I wanted to be skinny. But now the gears have shifted. Suddenly, curves are in.

And for some reason, along with the anti-fat-shaming movement that has rejected idealized images of beauty there has emerged an almost equally aggressive antithesis: the ridicule of women considered too slim, too unnatural, an act or ideology referred to as skinny-shaming.

Images of little girls and women with their ribs poking out and razor-sharp collarbones spark tons of Internet outrage. “What has society done to these young people?” proclaim concerned mothers on Facebook. “What image has the media been propagating to these children? Why can’t that actress eat some more damn food so my daughter will stop skipping meals?”

This kind of rhetoric has become really personal, and it has crossed the line from being socially conscious into being just plain mean. Suddenly, slimmer women are bad role models worthy of contempt, even though a lot of them might be naturally skinny.

When the casting of a new cinematic Wonder Woman was finally announced, fans took to criticizing actress Gal Gadot for her petite frame. Many people asked how this skinny thing could possibly portray the majestic, superhuman Amazonian princess, with her smaller chest being a particular point of contention.

Constantly stuck in the shadow of Lara Croft’s busty physique, Angelina Jolie also falls victim to these comments all the time, with her thin legs being the latest object of ire in an article for the Mirror.

Recent pop music has taken things to the next level. While curvaceous artists like Meaghan Trainor and Nicki Minaj are both promoting the big-booty sisterhood, they are doing so at the expense of slimmer women with lyrics like “I’m bringing booty back/Go ‘head and tell them skinny bitches that” and “Fuck them skinny bitches.”

Because of this, it seems like we’ve hit a new beauty double standard where we are more likely to assume a person is skinny because they don’t eat enough. Rather than take attention away from a person’s weight as a symbol of their self-worth and human value, we have given that idea more strength than ever.

With that being said, the fashion and entertainment industries do propagate an image of beauty that is unattainable and unrealistic for the average individual. But if certain individuals aren’t harming themselves, and if they are happy, how is their size anyone else’s business?

Shaming women’s bodies—whether big or small—is not cool or constructive. While this sounds totally clichéd, we should celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes, whether they have love handles or sharp collarbones.