I think it is safe to say at some point the majority of people haven’t been fond of their physical appearance. Maybe they felt like the “fat kid” with a face that was too round and a stomach that wasn’t flat enough. According to a 2015 survey by the British market research company, OnePulse, 900 Britons, 400 men and 500 women ages 16-34, 3 percent of women reported liking their bodies, while eight percent of men reported the same. Furthermore, the survey went on to ask where the pressure to have the perfect “beach body” came from. For the men, 29 percent of the pressure came from their romantic partners, while 16 percent came from other fit friends. Unfortunately, the women’s response were not given, but one could assume that similar answers probably rang true for the women. Flying over to the USA, the numbers for women aren’t any better when it comes to body satisfaction. According to an article by Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, of Psychcentral.com, a whopping 80 percent of women dislike their appearance and as many as 10 million suffer with eating disorders.
But what about the people who are on the “other side”?
Currently at the age of 22, I am 5 foot 6, 120 pounds, a perfectly normal weight according to the BMI calculator. I have lived on the other side of the “fat kid” scoffs for every year I’ve walked this earth. You’ve most likely heard the term “fat shaming” countless times, but did you know there’s such a thing called “skinny shaming”? Like fat shaming, skinny shaming comes complete with cringeworthy remarks. “You are sooooo tiny. What size are you?” “You’re not a real woman.” “Are you sick?” ” You’re so thin. You’re looking anorexic!” (Yes, someone has actually used this word to my face. I had just completed a particularly emotionally and mentally taxing college semester and wasn’t eating as well as I should have been.), and my favorite from Nigerians, “AH! SHOWN JEWN SHA?!” (You ARE eating right!?”) as they poke and prod at your bones wide-eyed horror, moving on to shove food in your face, forcing you to eat whether you’re hungry at that very moment or not. I go to the doctor regularly, and I have yet to had any issues. 100% healthy. Why the harassment?
Being slim, I prefer that over “thin”, has been something that has been an interesting experience as I’ve grown up as a Nigerian girl. Just like those men who felt pressure from their other halves and friends to be skinny, as I grew older I would look at my sisters, Black girlfriends, and a handful from other races, who had curvy bodies starting in middle school. “When is mine coming in?” I was left wondering, like Rudy Huxtable who resulted to faking sickness on the first day of the 6th grade, because of an undeveloped body. While I never resulted to such measures such as faking sickness or using enhancing creams, it was definitely an awkward time for me. I hated clothing that hugged my body, thinking to myself, “I look like a boy in a tight dress!” Fast forward, and there are so many more avenues and reasons that a slender Black girl like myself might feel out of place. In middle school, I didn’t have social media or watch music videos, nor did I care lot about the notoriously curvy celebrities such as Beyoncé or Jennifer Lopez. Today, you log on to Twitter or Instagram, turn on the television, and the sentiment remains: unless maybe you’re a model or a pageant queen, being a Black woman that’s naturally skinny is out.
While I would be a liar if I said that skinny comments didn’t still rub me the wrong way on occasion, everyday I put in conscious effect to just embrace all parts of myself. Whether you are big or small, at the end of the day the most important thing is your health in its totality. Smile and keep going!
Feature post Image: Blogger of Caxshe