On Body Image

There is a disturbing trend in popular culture at the moment: skinny-bashing.

After years—decades—of fat-shaming and body-negative language and imagery in the media, it should be nice to see and hear a little love for body shapes other than a runway model’s. Unfortunately, the advocates of booty are attempting to elevate it by putting down our slender sisters.

In the Media

Let’s take two extremely popular and relevant examples: Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda (NSFW)” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

At first listen, both of these songs appear to defend, and even encourage, ruthless body love. Minaj repeats throughout “Anaconda,” that she “ain’t missin’ no meals,” while Trainor iterates that “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

However, both songs juxtapose love for a curvier figure with distaste for a skinny one. Specifically, “[He] say he don’t like ‘em boney / He want something he can grab” (Minaj) and “She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night” (Trainor). Further, both songs reference “skinny bitches,” Minaj more aggressively than Trainor.

How Does This Affect Us as a Whole?

What are we telling women who are naturally slim? If we listen to and integrate the messages from these two songs, we’re telling them that they’re at a disadvantage for finding loving relationships. In fact, we’re telling them that they don’t have the right to look for a loving relationship, or even just a little base appreciation from the opposite gender. While we’re at it, let’s go tell them to eat a burger and stop purging.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s nice to see and hear body-positive language and imagery. But “body-positive” does not mean that big and curvy is the ideal body type and that skinny women need to gain weight. “Body-positive” extends—or should extend—to all body shapes, of all sizes, no matter if you happen to be runway ready or tend to carry a little more junk in the trunk.

On a Personal Level

I have three gorgeous daughters. Two of them have inherited their father’s body type, which is tall, lean, and slender. One of them inherited mine, which is naturally rotund in the rear.

I am beyond thrilled that my bubble-bottomed baby is finally getting some love in the media. I love that she’s going to grow up with the message that her eventual curves will be amazing. I think she’s lucky—she’s getting a much, much different message than I got, which was highly influenced by the heroin chic trend of the mid-1990s.

But I worry about the other two. They’re getting the opposite message, that there’s something wrong with their bodies because they are lithe. That they need to bulk up and gain weight if they want to attract a mate and/or meet the ideal standard of beauty.

They all eat. They all play sports. It just reflects differently among the children because they naturally have their own, unique, beautiful bodies.

Maybe We Should Try This Instead

There are better questions we can ask ourselves:

Am I happy?

Am I healthy?

Am I taking care of myself, mentally, physically, and spiritually?

Am I dressing for my body shape, in a way that is comfortable and flattering to me?

If you are, then your body will naturally adjust to your best weight, size, and shape and you will feel comfortable in your own skin. That might be a twiggy size 2. That might be a muscular size 10. Whatever it is, if you are eating well, getting in daily movement, and loving yourself, then you’ll get to where you should be.

***

Shapes, sizes, and weights are neither good nor bad. They simply are. It’s when we start ascribing value to a particular size, weight, or shape that creates the problem. We are, naturally, all built differently, and when we say, “This is good, this is bad,” someone will always be left out.

Let’s keep up the body love for our curvier counterparts. But let’s also shy away from body-shaming our skinny sisters. In fact, let’s move away from body-shaming, period.