As St. Lucy’s students were growing up, we always thought when someone said we were skinny, it was meant to be taken as a compliment. It was not until we were submerged into the world of media that we realized that “skinny” was a form of body shaming, and that “skinny” can be just as offensive to a thinner woman as “fat” can be to a woman who is larger.
Today it is hard to use any adjective without being judged, especially when it comes to complimenting or degrading people for their weight.
When current teens were growing up, we heard our mothers ask “Does my butt look big in this?” Today though, we hear it from teenage girls as a wish.
Ideal body image is a concept that is always developing. Right now we are in the “curvy” phase. “Curvy” used to be defined as a larger or plus size woman, but now it has become the complete opposite, a nearly unachievable goal.
The ideal “curvy” woman to teens today is someone with large breasts, a small waist, a large butt that is perfectly shaped, no cellulite, and perfectly contoured thighs. If you do not meet these regulations, you are simply too skinny, and you don’t have enough there to show off.
Body shaming has become an activity that is all too common. It is nearly impossible for us to go without body shaming whenever we leave the house.
Putting this nearly unachievable idea into the heads of young women is incredibly dangerous. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), there has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930, and it is assumed that the unrealistic standards set by social media have only added to this rate in recent years. These standards often push young people to fall into an eating disorder.
It is hard to determine a mortality rate amongst people with eating disorders mostly because it is hard to find those people and follow up with them many years later.
One study that followed 6,000 people with anorexia nervosa over a span of 30 years found that the people who suffered from this disorder had a six-fold increase in mortality compared to the general population. Reasons for death included starvation, substance abuse, and suicide. A large suicide rate was also identified in people who suffered from bulimia nervosa.
As a community it is important that we kick our body shaming habits and encourage a healthy lifestyle and positive outlook on people of all shapes and sizes. Early prevention is the best way to prevent anyone from developing an eating disorder, if a woman is skinny, she is just as lovable as a woman with more.