We must stop equating ‘skinny-shaming’ with the abuse received by fat people. It is nowhere near as damaging.
All body shaming is wrong. But not all body shaming is equal in its destructiveness. It is also not all equal in its pervasiveness or its frequency.
The term “skinny-shaming” has been around for at least a decade, but has gained momentum in recent years. Emma Woolf, author of The Ministry of Thin, has called on people to ‘Stop the Skinny Shaming!’ and asked why it is OK to call a thin woman nasty names when fat shaming is taboo.
For Woolf, the experience of being judged as too thin is the same as being judged as too fat.
I know the experience of feeling that one’s private pain is on display, of being stared at, of feeling horribly conspicuous. I see overt parallels between fatness and thinness. I believe that out-of-control eating may operate in the same way as out-of-control starving—as a defense mechanism against the world, a place to retreat when life feels overwhelming.
Woolf even goes so far to say that some kind of body-acceptance mafia have taken over and now it’s harder to be thin because everyone is so cool with being fat:
The plus-size-sisterhood can be frightening—not unlike playground bullies. Among the messages I received (interestingly, only from women, and mostly anonymous), I was called “skinny bitch,” “body fascist,” “fat-Nazi.” I was told that men “love something to grab onto” and that “curves” are sexier than the skeletal look.
But Woolf is wrong. It is a lot easier to be skinny than it is to be fat. Sure, being called skinny or Slim or Bones or Skeletor might hurt your feelings. You may be teased and picked on. And that is terrible. But it is not a patch on the pervasive and destructive abuse directed at people who are larger than society would like.