Skinny Shaming: Just Say No

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I AM SICK AND TIRED OF PEOPLE SH*TTING ON SKINNY WOMEN. Here’s why:

Recently, I met up with a friend of mine for an outdoors event in Bryant Park. I was donning a midriff-baring bandeau top with Daisy Dukes and a low-hanging medallion pendant swinging around my neck. I looked like I was super-stoked to be attending Coachella for the next few days.

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Karlie Kloss

My friend, on the other hand, was sheathed in a striped button-up blouse–buttoned up–and knee-length shorts. “I’m dressed like I’m tripping at some concert, and you look so preppy,” I quipped, laughing. Expecting a reply on natural differences in sartorial tastes, I was instead acquainted with a shocking reason for her dress code that day.

She said, “Whenever I show skin in the summertime, people always stop me on the street and ask me if I’m OK because they think I’m anorexic.”

I know my friend and I know her body. She, while built with the thimble-like waist and slender, slinky limbs of a ballerina (to my friend who shall go unnamed–these are words of pure love and appreciation), does not even approach the standard for what is medically considered anorexic. My jaw dropped at the audacity.

It’s called “Skinny Shaming” and I’m sad to announce that it is now a “thing.”

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Joan Smalls

These faceless people are active participants in a newfangled social trend as insulting as if they pulled a curvy woman aside and asked if she felt OK because they thought she might be overweight… That would be “Fat Shaming,” wouldn’t it? Well, why isn’t the same principle as cruel when applied to the skinny?

Can you imagine if people pulled a curvy woman aside and asked if she felt OK because they thought she “might be obese?”

Over the course of one autumn in college, I had lost five pounds due to overworking. My skinniest of jeans would sag at my waist and  drag at my hips. I was a size 0 trying and failing to convincingly wear a size 2. I couldn’t snugly wear jeans that used to make my small-but-bubbly butt look amazing. Hundreds of dollars spent, now for naught.

I know how that sounds. Oh, boohoo, right? When I posted this lament jokingly on Facebook, someone commented, “Do you expect anyone to feel sorry for you?” No, I don’t. I just don’t think I should feel sorry for a size 14 no longer able to fit in her size 8 jeans. YET, SOCIETY EXPECTS ME TO AND I WON’T ANYMORE. Picture me posting on someone’s Facebook, “Do you expect me to feel sorry for you for being too fat?” My skinny ass would be cast out from modern Western society.

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Du Juan

Enter Cacique, the lingerie line from plus-size women’s clothier, Lane Bryant. Cacique intimates is just like every other lingerie brand–it carries bras, panties, shapewear, sleepwear, loungewear, and swimsuit sets.

What Cacique also does is Skinny Shame. It has definitively declared that it is not for skinny women, in a way simultaneously derogatory to a company as well as to a whole demographic of women. That company is Victoria’s Secret (V.S.) and the diss is an ad campaign broadcasting Cacique’s new slogan: “#ImNoAngel,” a clear shot at Victoria’s Secret’s famous affectionate nickname for their model ambassadors. The campaign is seemingly ubiquitous, bearing multiple prongs:

  1. The television spot with several plus-size models speaking to the camera in black-and-white, describing various parts of their bodies in flattering terms and then each chiming in, one by one: “I’m no angel.”
  2. Lane Bryant’s Fast Lane page invites visitors and potential customers to be part of the anti-“Angel” sentiment via social media by stating:

“The women who wear Cacique know that sexy comes in many shapes and sizes. They’re no angels—and they own it. Join the women who are redefining sexy by posting your personal statement of confidence using the hashtag ‘#ImNoAngel.'”

…”REDEFINING SEXY?”

I’m sorry, Cacique-slash-Lane Bryant, but it doesn’t sound so much as an embracing redefinition as an abrasive omission of an entire category of women. Women you claim pronounce themselves Angels. Women who might shop at V.S. or La Perla or any number of non-curvy-only lingerie retailers. God forbid… Skinny women.

By showcasing only plus-size women in your TV spots and saying that curvy women “own” their sexy, you are really  sending the degrading message that they are the “only sexy.”

True, the ultra-thin have been the standard of sex appeal in fashion, especially in lingerie wear, for many decades now. Revising that standard to include plus-size women, however, doesn’t have to mean the defensive exclusion of non-plus size ones…Which seems to be exactly what is happening if one goes by Cacique’s web display of the participants in their #ImNoAngel social initiative.

“ALL WOMEN. ALL KINDS OF SEXY.”

  I ONLY see plus-sized women here, women who are not ALL kinds of sexy. Not all of them.

I understand Lane Bryant is a business that caters to shapelier women. They need to fluff up their consumers’ confidence. It’s just good marketing on their part. So… they Skinny Shame.

BUT…what if a business selling petit menswear decided to launch a national ad campaign claiming, “Shorter men are sexy, too”? I never hear shorter men complaining that more women found taller men more attractive and that “it’s not fair.” At least not in a commercial. Not yet.

You cannot force any one aesthetic upon an entire civilization. It’s not up to any brand or group of people to decide that for everyone else. That would be bullying, now… wouldn’t it?

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