Body Shaming: It Goes Both Ways

I’m going to address the size elephant in the room: our society will always be weight conscious. No matter how much we try to pretend otherwise, there will always be a certain stigma; a certain size to aim for. Our culture is fascinated with striving for the ideal body. The gluten free fad has claimed our grocery shelves, women everywhere huddle around to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and SoulCycle classes are overcrowded with people pedaling urgently in place to bad Top 40 remixes. As a culture, we care about how we look in a bathing suit, and it’s naive to pretend we don’t.

That being said, in 2016 we’ve become the kind of population that is very self aware about how we address other people’s body weight. We strive not to body shame, embracing plus size models, “loving” our curves, and considering the f word (fat) a taboo term. We tiptoe around an overweight person’s feelings, change the subject when an overweight person mentions how fat she’s felt lately and sometimes get secondhand embarrassment when an overweight person can’t into the roller coaster seat. It’s become a staple in the code of conduct to never ever make a bigger person feel bad for her size. This is by no means a bad thing, or something I disagree with.

However, body shaming extends to more than just the girl whose size isn’t carried in the boutique or the boy who has a little extra padding. I think this is forgotten when we make snide remarks about our sorority sister who is picking at her salad or when you point out that to your friend that she needs to eat a cheeseburger. No one does that, you roll your eyes as you continue skimming this article. But I listen to my peers, my friends. and even myself. I catch judgmental comments about girls who are trying to diet, appear too skinny, or run at the gym all the time. Why do we collectively agree that pointing out what an overweight person eating is wrong, but the girl across from me at lunch can fire questions at me about why I’m eating a lettuce wrap?

So often I hear girls condescendingly ask, “Why are you trying to lose weight? You don’t need to lose weight.” Sometimes putting carrots on your plate doesn’t automatically make you a member of Weight Watchers. Sometimes people choosing the broccoli over the biscuit is because they want to have a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes people appear bony with sharp features, not due to any eating disorder, but because that’s their biological makeup. Kind of like how people who make rude statements about someone’s eating habits or body type have a nosy biological makeup.

We should all just agree that you don’t have the right, and you certainly shouldn’t have a reason to point out what is on someone’s plate, how big or small someone looks, or why someone follows the diet they do. If I want to have my cake and eat it too, I should be able to without you narrowing your eyes at my plate. If I want to lose a few pounds I racked up over tailgating season, I should get to do it with you pointing out I’m “skinny” enough. To each their own, especially when it comes to the body only we carry ourselves in.