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.