Does this image offend you?
How about this one?
I am very possibly going to come across as sanctimonious but right now I don’t care. I’m mad as hell and I just have to get it out. Images like the above (excluding the “skinny” one, fortunately none of my friends are gun fanatics) keep popping up in my Facebook news feed. I’ve had enough!
This is body shaming. No excuses, no justification.
Let’s look at this on an image by image basis. Take the first one, with the message that “thin is sexy”. Sure, on the surface it is referring to the make of the gun, but it’s no coincidence that the model holding the gun is a tall, slender woman. And you know what? It’s true – if you’re the kind of person who finds tall, slender women attractive, then yes, you will likely agree that thin is sexy. Yet many would find this image offensive. Ironically, I find this image the LEAST offensive of the above examples. The reason? It’s not drawing a comparison. It’s not saying thin is better. It’s not saying thin is sexier than fat. It’s making a simple, plainly worded statement meant to stand alone without attribution of further intention.
Now let’s look at the second image, “Awesome women have curves and tattoos”. This is the one that set me off. Again, ironically as I *am* an overweight, tattooed woman. My problem with it? I hate the inherent implication of it – that thin women are not sexy. That women with no tattoos are not “awesome”. That somehow, if a woman is slender and has no tattoos, she is somehow less than heavier, inked women. It’s an implication I find disgusting.
The third image, “fuck society”. Wow, now there’s a subjective statement. Sure, for the person viewing the comparison, Marylin is more attractive than the thinner woman. Yet, who are they to pass judgement on society as a whole based on their personal opinion? Again, is it a damning indictment of society that a portion of them find the thinner woman more attractive? Why is that so wrong? Surely the condemnation should be leveled the party implying that the fuller figured woman is more worthy, more deserving of praise and attention, of our attraction?
What about the last image, the collection with such choice phrases such as “curves: because no one wants to snuggle a stick” or the deeply offensive “bones are for dogs; meat is for men”. How sick these images are! There is no subtly in the message here. Larger women are better than thin ones. Thinner women are lesser – less attractive, less sexy, less appealing and the men who love them no better than dogs – mindless beasts chasing after scraps. What a vile message to be sharing with our children!
Why do we feel this need to differentiate, to force the message that one body type is better than another? Why is it that women who don’t conform to a specific body type must be subject to body shaming? Just because in these examples it’s the thinner women being condemned (not to mention the men who like them) it’s still body shaming.
You wouldn’t laugh at a paralysed person, you wouldn’t condemn someone with a missing limb, or who was born differently-abled or with some sort of mental struggle, so why is it socially acceptable to shame someone for something as ridiculous as the size of their body? There are all kinds of reasons for women to be larger and there are all kinds of reasons for women to be thinner. And honestly, it’s none of your damned business why they are the size and shape they are.
Respect them as people, as women who live and breathe and share a brief span on this beautiful planet with you. Be attracted to those who attract you, without shame, without condemning those who you find less attractive, and be attracted to them without shame for your choices. If you find thinner women sexy, then there is no shame and no harm in this. If you find larger women sexy, then there is no shame and no harm in this. If you find all women sexy, then there is no shame and no harm in this. You have your will and the right to make your own choices, just as ideally all women have their will and the right to make their own choices.
Stop the body shaming. Stop the hatred, stop the ugliness, stop the comparisons that tell our young women that there is only one way to look, stop the lessons to our children that force them to make the choice they think they must make, rather than the choice that feels right.
Yes, curvy women with tattoos are awesome. So are the thinner women with protruding collar bones and no ink. So are the women who are missing limbs. So are the women who keep themselves in top physical condition. So are the women who develop their minds rather than build muscle at the gym. So are the women who love other women, so are the women who hide their penises under their clothing because they were born into the wrong body. So are the women who look in the mirror and cry because they do not meet the standards of beauty forced on them.
All women are awesome. For that matter all men are awesome. We are incredible feats of evolution capable of incredible acts of intellect, beauty, physical prowess and spiritual communion. The more that we understand this, the more we develop our appreciation of all forms of beauty and the less room we have for shame. I strive for that day with every ounce of my being. We’re all beautiful, we’re all human, we all have our own struggles, trials, joys and triumphs. Surely this is enough?