I really hate that hashtag.
The first one.
‘Strong not Skinny’.
Apologies to all the guys out there reading this one, it’s quite female heavy. Although I still recommend you have a read – you may learn something new
You’ll be pleased to know that this is not another story about me doing a stupid diet, regurgitating my lunch or living off of dust
This time is an observation.
The other end of the spectrum. The other side of the story
The ones you don’t realise you’re hurting. Following a trend like the herding of sheep, yet being blinkered like a racehorse
To the ‘skinny’ girls. This is for you <3
Body image has clearly been an ever-changing spectrum over many years. As time goes by, whether it be decades or centuries, women have been idolised for their beauty in completely different shapes and sizes.
The 1800’s saw the rise of the woman with as many curves, lumps, bumps and features as possible – as they were much more interesting to paint.
The Roaring 20’s encouraged and pressured the flapper-girl women to be thin while they survived on banned alcohol and cigarettes.
The peak of Marylin Monroe’s fame in the 1950’s brought curvaceous body image back to light with her being seen as the most beautiful woman in the world
Then the 60’s brought all the numbers back down again with the age of ‘Twiggy’ and her convenient stage name.
And ever since then, the sizing of the ‘ideal’ woman has stayed relatively the same. With some exceptions maybe in the 80’s when the Baywatch women came slow-mo running down the beach with a bit more of a rack.
And now its 2017.
The past couple of years have been a complete and utter rollercoaster of emotions, confusion, yet also empowerment for women and their body image.
However many times I look in the mirror and tell myself I am good enough in my own skin and my own body. However many times go to the gym and check how my abs are coming along after a 60 minute session. However many times I feel I shouldn’t have ANYTHING to worry about, I STILL feel the question etched into the back of my mind;
‘What am I supposed to look like?!’
Being a social media fiend and the fact I now use it as a business tool (so I’m literally on my phone ALL THE TIME) I find myself scrolling through Instagram while it feeds me all the mixed signals like one of those typical guys who gives you all the attention but you JUST CANT get a text back
The Kardashians appear with their extreme contour, organs squeezed into a waist trainer and try to convince the world that their waist to hip to thigh ratio is completely normal and natural *ahem*
The ‘plus size’ models intervene with their ‘any body is beach body ready’ power pictures, teaching women to enjoy their bodies as they are; and not conform to society’s standards – brilliant!
Then we have the fitness fanatics – the Crossfit crazies and health hammerers. Looking incredible of course, but why the need to tell me what I shouldn’t be eating or the fact you only get likes if you have powered up thighs but at the same time a snatched waist.
Also, if you didn’t take a photo of yourself in the gym, did you even go?
So, which one is it??
I will tell you one thing. The ‘skinny’ girls are not even in the picture.
**Lets flip and reverse this situation for a second**
You’re sitting in your work break room. Just made a fresh cuppa and enjoying your scrummy home-made pasta bake leftover from the night before.
Your colleague to your right is flicking through the latest gossip magazine, being told that she shouldn’t be wearing horizontal stripes, or yet again, an article on why he’s not texting you back (surprise)
She points out a woman in the magazine and says the very words;
‘Oh my God, look at her she is so FAT’
You peer over to your right and take a peek at said woman. She is the same size as you, same build, shape, size, a bit of extra baggage in the same places.
Your stomach suddenly churns at the idea of taking another mouthful of your pasta and you immediately gain an emotional 5 pounds of heartache.
Horrible isn’t it??
So WHY do we think its ok to say that about ‘skinny’ girls??
And the reason I have consistently put ‘skinny’ in inverted commas throughout this post, is because I proactively don’t use the word in my own vocabulary anymore. In 2017, ‘skinny’ is in no way shape or form a compliment. It is seen as a form of BODY SHAMING without even realising.
I have to admit, back in the day I did used to get the old ‘wow you’re looking skinny’ after a successful crash diet and reply with a proud ‘Thank You’
I mean, I was basically brainwashed with my sky-high levels of naivety and delusion around then, so I’ll let myself off that one.
With all the new exposure of size diversity on the modelling scene, we are now taking away the identification of the smaller woman. All these beautiful bodies are popping up left, right and centre and rightfully so! But put yourself in the shoes of the now labelled ‘skinny’ girl next to you. Because with all this change and hype, she is now deemed as unattractive.
With the uprising army of body confident women, feminism and defining yourself as a human and not an exterior, we are very privileged with the way the world is changing. BUT as we climb up the ladder of strength and empowerment, we need to watch who we may be stepping on. They may be ‘skinny’ but they’ll come back up there and scratch your eyes out if you’re not careful!
The girl you called ‘skinny’ as a compliment and said you wished you looked like her?
She spends the day wishing she had a few more curves to offer.
The girl who sees you share a meme saying ‘Men prefer cuddling curves, not sticks’
She now feels more unattractive than ever
(And FYI – men like whatever the hell they want!)
The girl you told to ‘have some cake’ or gently reminded her that you can see her bones?
She has been trying and struggling to gain weight for the past 5 months.
The girl who sees the #strongnotskinny plastered on your Instagram page
Does she have to be pumping iron to be classed as ‘strong’?!
You might be doing well with your weights, yes, but why does that give you the right to body shame someone else in the process?
Do you want to know how many times ‘that’ hashtag has been used??
Yeah. 5 million+ people have been body shaming.
Probably a close friend, relative or at least an acquaintance
So Here’s My Idea
How about a new hashtag
Ladies, we need to work together here. As we close the gap on gender equality, we need to start thinking less about the aesthetic and more about the place we have in society and how we can progress with greatness.
Just for a moment:
-Turn away from the mirror.
-Take off your FitBit
-Put down the dumbbells
-Leave the contour kit
And think about what REALLY makes you strong.
– I am strong because I overcame serious body dysmorphia and was able to eventually accept myself
– I am strong because I put myself through a dramatised and degrading industry and yet managed to become a better person that what I used to be
– I am strong because I managed to get past an abusive relationship, emerge again and rebuild myself
– I am strong because I am now able to share my stories with you and bring a series of concealed issues to light
I am #strongFULLSTOP
Taking beauty away from someone you may find ‘skinny’ will not make you stronger. No matter how much you’ve been working on that dead lift ‘personal best’
We are all in this together. Our aesthetic will never affect our unity and our strive towards equality.
What makes YOU strong??
P.S. Men, if you’ve read this far, bravo and thank you. I’ll have one for you soon I promise x