Double standards and the crusade against skinny

By Sonja Nikcevic

Remember the good old days when you could make a politically incorrect joke and not be publicly condemned by the ever-present oversensitivity police? Neither do I. This Western by-product of über-tolerance has reached an all-time high and we are being told and telling others (for the most part – rightly) that EVERYTHING is OK. Race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, body types – it’s all acceptable, desirable and a-ok. Everything that is, except being skinny.

Before the 1960’s and all the way back to the beginnings of modern society, curvy and ‘big’ women were all the rage. Remember the original pin up girls, Mairlyn Monroe and pre-Raphelites? There was nothing skinny about them and the world loved it.

But then, in the mid 60’s, came Twiggy. The big-eyed, short-haired British model that revolutionized the world of fashion. Her androgynous look and super-thin physique earned her the famous nickname and jump-started a hype that redefined the term ‘sexy’. From then on, a combination of media and catwalks insisted that beautiful could only ever mean thin. And thus the craze began, from season to season, supermodels became taller and thinner, clothing sizes smaller and the world less became accepting toward anything else.

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The skeletal fashion of the early 2000’s

Snowballed by the everyday increase in technology and media pressure, the number of diets and gym memberships multiplied, and with it came deadly consequences. Anorexia and bulimia plagued the lives of women –especially young girls, especially models – everywhere. It took the world over a decade to realize what it was doing, and screech to a halt.

And thus started a new trend of condemning those bullying the big and promoting the skinny. The majority of society jumped on the bandwagon and decided they would no longer be brainwashed by the media. Skinny became evil, malnourished and unhealthy. Zero was no longer a size, and ‘real women’ had curves. The term ‘skinny bitch’ was coined, and even became a drink (with no calories obviously).

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And maybe it was just us skinny, HEALTHY girls that heard the double-standard bells ring. I am a skinny size 0-2, and those who know me know I eat more (especially more chocolate) than your average person. They also know I hate nothing more than being told to ‘go and eat something’.  And I wonder, when did we become so ridiculously stuck in this vicious circle of accepting one only by condemning the other? We’ve become so indoctrinated to accept that body types aren’t straight off the catwalk that we seem to forget that skinny is a body type, too. And one that, if it is healthy, is just as acceptable. Where does the entitlement to tell the skinny girl that ‘she’s so skinny!!!’ come from? Did I magically forget what I look like? Am I supposed to say thank you? I’m sorry? Flip the switch and imagine telling a big girl she’s fat. Doesn’t really work does it? Now imagine telling the girl – in the most friendly way possible of course!! – to go to the gym, just like people tell me to eat a sandwich. Heads would roll.

A very nice example of all this, and the negative image society is steering towards yet again, comes from eerily similar 2012 ad campaigns by Dove and Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret was first, with a group of models in lingerie telling us to accept diversity and love our bodies. Of the seven models, two were black, one brunette, and that’s where the diversity ended. All of them were impossibly tall, thin, glossy, photoshopped and beautiful. The internet backlash was something to behold. VS became the promoter of all evil, and something had to be done.

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So Dove stepped up, did that something and the “Real Beauty” campaign was born. The similarities to “Love My Body” were obvious, and the message was the exact opposite. Real beauty was not stick thin and supermodel tall, it came in all shapes and colors – but only one size, and that size was big and curvy. Now, while Dove did this in probably a well thought out plan to level the playing field, and lessen the media adoration of skinny (which – there’s no denying it, still exists), the outcome was just as hypocritical and flawed as Victoria Secret’s.  So were reports of a Swedish clothing store finally using ‘normal’ size 10-12 mannequins.

So, I’ll say it, and hope that one day, media and society hear me – your normal is not my normal, and real beauty is EVERY single body type out there, including my size zero. Stop. With. The. Labeling. And stop telling me to eat a sandwich, because I will tell you to go make me one.

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4 thoughts on “Double standards and the crusade against skinny

  1. Pingback: Date a girl who – insert stereotype | We should name this soon

  2. Pingback: Aaaaaand… this was 2013! | We should name this soon

  3. Pingback: Double Standards | Eradica

  4. Sonja, this is so well-written! We have talked about this issue so many times in person and I think this article sheds light on your perspective really well. Really well done!

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