In Defense of Skinny Girls: Tackling The Taboo War Between Thick and Thin

February 26, 2013  |  

Credit: Shutterstock

It happened while shopping at a local boutique during my freshman year of college. At the time she was a size 14 and I was a 4. For some reason, that day she decided to try on clothes in the petite section. I was confused, but I continued trying on clothes.

She kept eyeing a teeny bra and panties set and I thought, “No way. I know she’s not.” But she did. She picked up the set and fawned over how cute the lace was and said she was buying it. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing and continued trying on clothes. With no warning, she looked at me as I awkwardly stumbled out of the dressing room wearing what I hoped would finally be the perfect dress for whichever event we were going to.

“Ugh, you make me sick you skinny b***h.”

It stunned me at first. I had the kind of relationship with my friends where we could insult each other lovingly and never take it to heart. But this. This was something else entirely. She gave a half-hearted smile and chuckle but she looked a confusing mash-up of angry and sad. Back then I thought too much of myself as we so often do and I took offense, discussing the issue with friends to make myself feel better as they coddled me with the, “She’s just jealous,” speech. What I know now is that it was more about her than it was about me.

Self-doubt, ESPECIALLY when it comes to physical beauty drives us to comparison in absolutely illogical ways and then throws us down into the muck of despair when we don’t measure up to whatever ludicrous standard we’ve set ourselves up against. But instead of accurately and honestly assessing where we are and then putting in the sweat (literally) to get where we want to be, it’s so much easier to give intense side-eye to that young woman who spends three hours daily in the gym and watches what she eats. It’s so much easier to call a slimmer woman (by metabolism – something almost completely uncontrollable) a “skinny b***h” without knowing her story. Did you know she may be battling an eating disorder brought on by physical and/or mental abuse? Or that perhaps she has a rarely high metabolism and intensely low self-esteem and tries desperately to gain weight to avoid criticism? You don’t know because you never asked. You never asked because you assumed that she thought she was “all that.” And we’re (skinny girls) supposed to take that?

If it’s rude or inappropriate for me to call an overweight woman a “fat, moon-faced heifer” then it’s equally inappropriate for someone to look at my 105-pound frame and jeer “Anorexic, skinny b***h!” or assume that I’m purposely missing meals to stay small. I get it; life is unfair. Boo hoo. Society is full of double standards, all of which coddle one group and leave its opposite open to criticism and cruel treatment that often lead to unfair resentment and hidden insecurities.

Though I wasn’t always comfortable in my body and I still deal with insecurities about it, it has become clear that acceptance is a useful tool in moving through life. Well, acceptance and a staunch refusal to bite my tongue when confronted about my weight. I learned to brush off the backhanded remarks about my size by larger women when I understood that I had nothing to apologize for. As if the fifteen or twenty pounds tipping another woman’s scale were somehow caused by my innately high metabolism. Really?

Society has really screwed us up. It has skewed our perception of what healthy looks like and driven home the lucrative “Try this and lose weight!” campaign year after year on the front of every glossy magazine in the checkout, in every aggravating commercial featuring that annoying celebrity, with pills, supplements, exercise regimens, crash diets and surgery. So, we clamor for that elusive perfect shape (yes, even the thinnest of us) and compare ourselves to those who we feel have reached that goal in our place. “In our place.” As if another woman’s physique decides the beauty, or lack their of, of our own. The result of that kind of ridiculous comparison is misguided self-doubt, insecurity and unfortunately, for many, lashing out to cope. I get the psychology behind it. Truly. But it’s no excuse to be mean.

I am not pleading the case of skinny girls. I am defending everyone who falls on the other side of any number of double standards, through the cracks, and gets lost there. Thinner women are subconsciously taught to be ashamed of their size and never to complain whilst we deal with an array of problems ranging from health to clothing that others deem trivial/silly. How crazy is that? Though I do struggle daily with lurking insecurities about my weight, that doesn’t give me license to belittle someone who is larger – nor would I ever want it to.

“Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Philo

Though the struggle may not be overt; though the struggle may not look like yours; though you may not understand it – accept the fact that everyone has a struggle.

We have to stop thinking of ourselves in terms of everyone else. We’re doing more damage to our own psyches and self-view than the best marketers and advertisers ever could. Thin or thick – healthiness is beauty and THAT is the only standard to which we should ever strive to measure up.

La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.

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  • Rosewood

    In my experience, thin girls start conflict, especially short ones. They challenge larger girls like yappy little dogs, just to make themselves seem tougher.

    I never felt that someone else’s weight was something to envy, because I have been putting in the sweat.

    But thin girls act as if I’m envious of them, and they’ll get their boyfriend to jump in teasing to boost their egos

  • Shantelle

    This article really hit home. I am 20 year woman, 5’7, 140 lbs and my two best friends are plus size girls. I sit around listening to the calling each other “thick” and phrases like ” men want meat, bones are for dogs.” Like you, I battle my own insecurities but they are swept under the rug in conversation because I am a size 6. I worry that men won’t find me attractive, that I’m not curvy enough to be a “real Black woman,” and if I should try to gain more weight. I am not very small but I still have to deal with their issues as well as my own. I like that you were honest. I could relate and that alone made this worth the read. Great Article.

  • Thin Girl

    I’ve been thin my whole life…called toothpick, bag of bones, bonerack and the all too common skinny Bi**ch. I will never understand why people feel justified to do this. It’s not right. And please note I used the word “thin” I hate the word “skinny” I find it offensive.

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  • QueenOfLife

    I agree that society and the media does have a big impact on weight issues. I’m a young woman, and sometimes I stare in the mirror and wish I could change my medium sized body. I cant be clarified as skinny, and cant be clarified at fat/obese, so what am I? Now all you see on social media and clubs are either the ones with the huge a**es and 1in waists or the super skinny VS model types. I went to the club last week for my Birthday, and I felt myself feeling a bit self conscious because I didnt have a huge ghetto booty hanging out of my dress Lol As a young woman I do get self conscious because of every man’s desire of a certain body type. We just need to realize that woman of all shapes and sizes are beautiful!!

  • Britt

    The funniest thing about your comment is the fact that this article isn’t about people that look like you (overweight/ obese). For once it is about the thinly challenged and THEIR struggles, why take the insult and then console her fat friend? I always see women your size that don’t know how to dress for their bodies, but THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. Seriously, GRASP THE STATEMENT OF THE ARTICLE and take a minute to think about that the next time you call someone a skinny b****h.

  • Trisha_B

    So don’t get mad when a “skinny b-h” walks up to you & say “hi fat b-h…”

  • Guest

    Never change yourself for someone else. “Menu for today choice of two: take it or leave it.” It’s all good.

  • sabrina

    You know what? I used to hate being skinny while growing up. My sisters would tease me allll the time, and people would always make comments about how I need to gain weight. In high school, it seemed like all the boys liked the thicker girls, and being skinny and tall, I was so insecure. I finally started to grow into my slimness upon graduating high school, and began to embrace it. I actually prefer to be skinny and tall now. I no longer care if being black and skinny isn’t “the standard of beauty in the black community” because I’m still embraced by all.

    But it still stings a bit when I hear/read about someone saying “she needs to eat a burger” or something like that about a skinny person. No she does not. Maybe you just need to eat a salad.

  • jjac401

    I am a smaller person that recently gained enough weight (140 lbs.) to not be teased anymore. I found it insulting for bigger women and sometimes men to make fun of me – all the while knowing that if I made fun of them it would be considered an insult. I hope that people read this article and understand that what they do is NOT cool and they need to keep their negative comments about thin people to themselves!

  • Dee

    Thank you so much for this! I have struggled with being thin since I was a child. I’m only 5’3 and barely 100 lbs. Black women hate it and white women are jealous because they wish they had it. I have a very high metabolism and have never been able to gain weight. It had affected my self esteem to the point where I didn’t feel as pretty as the “kim kardashians” of the world with big boobs and a butt. However, my boyfriend, accepts me for who I am and prefers me to not gain or lose but to be his “mini lady”. I can only be myself and not live my life for others. I may be a small person but I’m doing big things.

  • For skinny black woman it’s not really a privilege Not to mention the standard of beauty in the black community, body wise they do not have. And they still don’t uphold the European standard of beauty, their skin is still dark and their hair is kinky. When they open up Elle and Vogue, they don’t see women like them. Body wise yes, but nothing that they could relate to. As a skinny black woman I never linked myself, to the blonde hair blue eyed, slim models.

  • Guest360

    I can not STAND classless “skinny jokes”. Yes I do eat. Constantly, in fact. No I’m not anorexic and it’s not funny to joke about a serious illness like that. What if I said I was? Now you’ve just added to it by commenting on a sensitive subject for me. No I don’t have an easier time finding clothes considering I’m A) skinny and B) really short. Being skinny doesn’t bring any added benefit to my life that a bigger person isn’t going through as well. I still have to make a conscious effort to eat right and be healthy and I still struggle with finding clothes that fit. It’s a double standard for sure and I absolutely hate it. Lord help me if my response to your “You look anorexic” comment is a “You look like you ate a buffalo”, people would call me the hater and get on my case. If one is not ok, then other shouldn’t be either. Simple.

  • Trisha_B

    I can’t stand skinny jokes. Im small & all my close friends happen to be bigger than me. & they say lil things where I have to check them, b/c the minute I say something about them its a huge issue b/c they are plus size. Is it my fault I have a high metabolism? I eat all the time! I was too press when I was finally able to fit a size 7 jean lol. I never thought the jokes Monique would make about skinny girls were funny. It was all jealously imo, & now the woman who always shouted she loved her big size is now a small woman. A skinny girl makes fun of a big girl its called a hate crime, & all types of organizations come out fighting. No one should make fun of anyway, its childish. I don’t care if you think one is privileged than the other.

  • Rosetta’s stoned

    That whole “you need to eat or do you eat?” line is cool but when I follow up with “No dear, you need to put an end to your love affair with the fork.” Don’t get upset.

  • JazzyLady21

    I love this article! I always have to ignore all the “skinny jokes”. I think this goes back to people always want what they can’t have. At times I wish I was thicker b/c I think it would be way easier for me to buy clothes; especially b/c not only am I skinny but I’m short too. Everyone has different problems no matter what size you are.

  • I hate it when people ask me what size i wear or what i weight, and the stupid question? Do you eat.

    • Guest

      Ask them how much they weigh? Crickets.

  • Just saying!!

    I honestly haven’t read the whole thing but I’d just like to make a comment on the statement made in the little blurb before you open the article (“If it’s not okay for you to make fun of someone who is fat, it shouldn’t be okay for you to make fun of someone who is skinny). I agree that it SHOULDN’T be that way, but I think I understand why that is the reality. The privileged cannot afford to make fun of the underprivileged. There was a comedian who talked about this but I don’t remember his name. But anyway, skinny people have privilege in this society, so when people talk about them it’s not seen as a big deal. However, if a skinny person talks about a fat person, it’s rude. Poor people can make fun of rich people, vice versa isn’t socially acceptable. Black people can make fun of white people…the reverse would be a big problem. Not saying it’s fair…but I think thats the underlying theme here.

    • Nope

      Yeah, I agree with this. I mean that’s what “double standards” means…. the lack of balance of a standard.

    • Good point!

    • Annette

      And I understand that, but calling people anorexic and boney is not really funny. It’s kind of insulting. To call someone anorexic is to ask if they are sick or if they have a mental illness that makes them look the way they do. And they expect thin folks not to be offended by that.

      • IllyPhilly

        Neither is calling somebody fat when they gotta big butt or old at 30. You only take it to heart if you have a problem with your image.

    • Janae

      I think it all depends on perception. In the AA community, bigger women are preferred -this is no secret. I see how ppl rip Karrueche to pieces for being thin, but if you ever look at her social media accounts, you can see she’s obsessed with food. I think it’s unfair to judge either type of woman. We need to re-evaluate what we think us beautiful. Not trying to sound corny, but there really is beauty in all forms.

      • IllyPhilly

        Bigger women? Like what? Fat is fat in my old ‘hood. “Thick” is flat everything but thighs, butt, and breasts. Skinny is if you look like a twelve year old boy at 24 years old man or woman.

    • Guest

      For skinny black woman it’s not really a privilege Not to mention the standard of beauty in the black community, body wise they do not have. And they still don’t uphold the European standard of beauty, their skin is still dark and their hair is kinky. When they open up Elle and Vogue, they don’t see women like them. Body wise yes, but nothing that they could relate to.

    • IllyPhilly

      Plus one! It’s always been like that.