real life

'I've been skinny shamed my whole life. Here's what I want you to know.'

Recently, stylist Deni Todorovic posted an Instagram story about their shopping experience at Chadstone - they were exhausted. Exhausted because of the lack of size representation in Australia's mid-range women's fashion. 

I felt a sense of despair after watching this and thought to myself, what have these brands got to gain for stopping at a size 12? Fashion, the very essence of what it means, is a celebration for all; no matter age, culture and body shape, it should be accessible. Australian brands need to do better, they have a responsibility to be body aware, as the fashion industry is notoriously synonymous for creating, if not, exacerbating feelings of shame women have about their body image. However, when we think of the term ‘body shame’, we only think of one side of the coin.

Watch: 57% of girls compare themselves to other people on social media. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Being body shamed for being ‘too thin’ is an unspoken thing but I’m here to talk about it. Standing at 175cm tall, with gangly limbs, I’ve been the target of unsolicited comments about my body my whole life. What I have noticed is that socially, we are cautious about saying the three-letter F word to someone, as we should be, but we have no qualms in calling someone ‘too skinny’ to their face. It’s a paradox that I have not fully grasped but I think people feel they can get away with it because ‘skinny’ has always been celebrated.


Not 'too skinny', though, a 'healthy skinny' – whatever that means. So like Deni, I am exhausted. I am exhausted at having to defend my natural body shape to the people who feel like I owe them an explanation as to why my body is the way it is? Well, guess what?  I don’t even know myself, it’s the way I was born. My default responses are, ‘I have a fast metabolism,’ or it’s my ‘genetics,’ – scientific responses I’ve learnt to use but know nothing about. 

My body shaming experience started at an extremely young age. During primary school, my skinniness would amaze other students and they would wrap their fingers around my wrists in awe. 

I was often the school rag doll, being suplexed from one side of the room to the other in PE because a few boys thought I would be perfect practice for their pro wrestling career one day. The worst type of commentary was being told that I looked like a starving African child we see on World Vision commercials. The representation of this meant they thought I was malnourished and extremely sick. My parents ushered me to specialists to determine if my super skinny body was actually a sign of something more sinister. To our delight, the doctor confirmed that I was a perfectly healthy child, and this was ‘just the way I was.’

In my 20s, the shaming persisted but interestingly these comments were now from women. From being handed a note on the dancefloor at a nightclub which read, ‘Go eat a burger’, to overhearing two girls in the change room compare my legs to that of a junkyard dog.


Another time an Australian brand shared my photo when I was fashion blogging, before having to take it down because of a comment that read, ‘Nice shoes, shame about the unhealthy model’.

If only these commenters knew I was doing everything I could to put ‘meat on my bones’ so I would go unnoticed.

Right now, I have nothing but positivity regarding my body. I love how lean and long I am. I feel strong in my body; I work out regularly and eat a well-balanced diet. Remarks about my figure don’t affect me like they used to. As long as I know I am healthy, I am not bound by another person’s perception of what they think is healthy.

Image: Supplied. 


Wherever you fall on the body shape spectrum, the way our bodies, particularly female bodies have been exploited for capitalistic gain has created enormous issues about the way women feel about their body shape around the world. From the hourglass figure in the Monroe era during the 50s, to the 90s lean supermodel and now the Kardashian era post 2010. Our bodies have been treated like commodities. When one body shape is pedestalled, the rest become less than ideal, which creates a breeding ground for body shame and insecurity.

The thing is, we need to remind ourselves, all bodies are beautiful and when we reduce them to trends, we devalue how unique we are. Our bodies are amazing vessels that allow us to experience life and to keep us safe. As the goal post for the ideal body image keeps shifting, we must remain steadfast in our own body autonomy and hopefully there will be a time when all bodies are 'in'.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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