Skinny is Not a Compliment

A Calvin Klein ad portraying a size 10 model as ‘plus size’ has people riled up, and rightfully so. I’m sure there will be much discussion about CK and its bothersome campaign, but I’m irked about more than the ad. The conversation it started went from double zero to ugly pretty darn quickly. In a matter of minutes the conversation turned to hating the thin people.

It’s time to stop the double-standard. I can be referred to as skinny (which is not a compliment), but you can’t be called fat?

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Let’s start with the definition of skinny. Dictionary.com notes this:

  1. very lean or thin; emaciated
  2. of or like skin
  3. unusually low or reduced; meager; minimal
  4. (of an object) narrow or slender

I don’t appreciate being likened to terms such as emaciated, like skin, or meager. Surely you all teach your children not to tease others based on how they look. You would hopefully be appalled if your little one harrassed another about the size of their nose or back side. Why, then, is it okay to ridicule people based on their small size?

I’m a small-framed woman, I eat well, and I’m a healthy weight. I know this from just about every medical chart, from every BMI index, and from my own physician. I am a size 0 by American standards (depending on the brand I could be a 00 or a 2), and if you have a problem with that, get over it. More importantly, it’s time you think about what your words do to others.

The range for healthy is pretty wide. According to the CDC, for an adult who is 5′ 4″ tall, a healthy weight is from 108 to 145 pounds. That sounds like a lot of different sizes and shapes to me, and more power to you wherever you land on that chart. I would not say to someone, “wow, you’re so big.” If I were to be so callous, I would likely be stoned for it. Yet it’s socially acceptable for people to comment on my size and how I look.

News flash: your words have chipped away at my self-esteem too.

For years, I thought my legs were too skinny and my chest too flat because of what other people said to me. ‘Skeletal’ is every bit as offensive as ‘fat.’ It took a lot of work, and despite your words, I love the way I look. Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to recognize what judgment from others can do to them.

A few things people say that are wildly inappropriate:

  • Oh my gosh, you’re so skinny. Think of this statement in the opposite. Pretty awful, huh? Might make you feel badly about yourself. It runs both ways.
  • You need to put some meat on your bones. Actually, I don’t. Unless you have something kind to say, honor what your mother taught you and zip it.
  • You eat like a bird. You’ve just affirmed your own ignorance on the subject of my eating habits, because I probably eat more than you do. Furthermore, what I eat is none of your business. I don’t comment on the contents of your plate–that would be rude.

People suffer from eating disorders, health issues, are underweight, are overweight, and need help. We should not be insensitive to those struggling with weight issues on either side of the matter and should not judge. There are sincere and tactful ways to raise the subject with someone you love. Categorically spewing cavalier and hurtful comments about how others look, no matter their size, is rude and reckless. It’s time we all check ourselves before giving an unsolicited opinion on someone else’s appearance.

Consider how you want your child to be treated at school. Should he or she be teased for being too thin or too big? Let’s treat each other with the respect and kindness we preach. Join me in learning this lesson we teach our children, about how our words effect others.

Cheers to your health!
Kelly