What does this double standard look like?
As a society we have been taught that it is ‘rude’ to so openly and casually call someone ‘fat’, and so we avoid doing so in order not to be offensive. We even tiptoe around the word in conversation if someone close by is fat. Some of us may even use the word to intentionally offend someone because, sadly, many of us have been conditioned to think that being fat is not considered physically desirable.
On the other hand…
I frequently have people around me blatantly state, “You’re so skinny”. No one bats an eyelid. If anything, other people may actually chime in and emphasise the point. Imagine if I turned around to a fat person and casually stated, “You’re so fat”… Well how dare I, right? Socially unacceptable. I’m guessing any witnesses would feel uneasy and I would be considered an insensitive bitch, amongst other things. Another example is that I really feel the cold, and more often than not people will say, “Put on some more weight and you won’t feel the cold!” Imagine if I retorted with, “Lose some weight and you won’t feel so hot!” Totally different story…but, this is my reality…and the reality of so many others. This is, basically, the double-standard that has given me a ‘skinny girl complex’.
So why do we continue to accept this double standard? Why is it ok and more tolerable for fat people to talk so boldly about body-positivity and have their feats celebrated, whilst on the other hand, skinny people are somewhat dismissed and their message is quite often lost in translation?
For years I have become accustomed to people so freely and mindlessly commenting on my weight, but it is considered socially unacceptable when it is the other way around.
Why does this double standard exist?
I believe there are numerous reasons as to how this double standard came to be.
I think one of the most obvious perpetrators is the media. With the evolution of television and cinematography, marketing and advertising came into its own. Companies, especially in the beauty industry, seized an opportunity to make money (and BIG money) by attempting to sell the masses an image of what is considered ‘desirable’, constantly making people (more so females) feel inadequate about their physical appearance, persuading them to believe that they would be considered more ‘beautiful’ if they brought this or that.
The industry banks on low self-esteem.
Over the years, the industry, through the distorted lens of the media, imprinted into the minds of the masses their version of ‘beautiful’, constantly ‘updating’ and ‘enhancing’…breeding insecurity and fear and then feeding off of it.
The fashion industry has also glamourised skinny. Everywhere we look… billboards, the runway and magazines still push skinny as more desirable and attractive. Although we are now seeing the emergence of a plus-size industry, with more plus-size models in mainstream media and on the runway, there still does not seem to be a middle-ground or an equal representation. So I understand the debate and acknowledge the struggle plus-size men and women still have to endure. This blog does not dismiss this whatsoever. I am speaking from personal experience (coming from the most authentic place that I can) and am here to merely shed light on the skinny side of the issue and expose the double standards amongst body-shaming that are real and deeply entrenched in our society.
So, because mainstream media has forced upon us and sold skinny as more desirable over the decades, anytime anyone errs on this side of the spectrum and speaks out about their body-positive journey, quite often (and I speak from personal experience here), the message can be missed and, instead, they are judged as narcissistic, attention-seeking or arrogant.
Whilst I have learnt to acknowledge the criticism as more of a reflection of the person criticising me, it has been a journey in itself to truly understand this.
When we are plagued with insecurities and/or cannot be happy within our own body we, quite often, resent those who are…skinny or fat. We criticise and lash out, inwardly yearning for their confidence.
I also believe that the pornography industry has A LOT to answer to (another topic for another time). Epitomising sexualisation of the human body and glorifying a certain body-type, blurring the lines between sex and nudity. Whilst I believe everything has its place, so many are unaware of the fact that most pornography is staged and scripted…manufactured to get the ‘cum shot’. Whilst I understand that the audience for pornography is made up of males and females, it is predominantly males. Young boys, especially, grow up having an image of what they consider ‘sexy’, not knowing how to look at females, especially their naked bodies, in a more pure and non-sexual manner because they’ve been conditioned to associate nudity with sex…and so we have a society in which males have also unconsciously projected their ‘ideals’ and ‘standards’ onto women, placing a certain pressure on females to live up to these standards and ideals that have been unwelcomingly thrust upon them (I don’t want to get too carried away on this matter. I will delve into this topic in more depth in the future…it is a massive topic worthy of its own post).
What contributes to this double standard?
First and foremost, I believe that we have a culture that breeds self-loathing rather than self-love. A culture always reminding us that we’re not good enough the way we are.
The media, beauty and fashion industries sell us an image and are constantly updating their version of ‘beautiful’, giving us the idea that we are never good enough just as we are, creating a feeling of inadequacy. These industries thrive on low self-esteem, because they couldn’t survive otherwise. If we had a culture which encouraged self-acceptance and love, these industries wouldn’t exist. Instead, they’ve created an image, sold it and continue to live off of it because it has worked! Have you ever wondered why there are constantly new fads? The latest in beauty? Well, if one thing stuck and actually worked, that’d be it…but because we’re ‘never good enough as we are’ (so not true by the way!), we are constantly looking for the next best thing to ‘improve’ our image.
I also believe that, because mainstream media and the beauty and fashion industries glorify and promote a slimmer body-type over the other as more ‘desirable’, anyone that falls closer toward this end of the spectrum is assumed as being more confident, less inclined to be insecure and less plagued with body-image issues, and so others have felt justified in mindlessly commenting on ‘skinny’ people’s bodies, not thinking of this to be offensive or inappropriate…thus the double standard!
With the proliferation of social media, the body-shaming double standards seem only to have been exacerbated.
Social media is a great tool for spreading awareness and can act as a powerful platform for change when used consciously, but it also has a dark side. We now have armies of keyboard warriors who feel inclined and justified in criticising others based off of one, or a few, photos or videos. These days, it only takes one comment to gather a few soldiers. They sit behind a screen, feeling indestructible. I feel that, sometimes, social media has somewhat masked the fact that behind the other screen is a REAL human being, with feelings and emotions. Behind the post is a real person, and we must not forget this. Compassion and kindness are needed now more than ever.
How do these double standards affect us?
…to be continued in part 3…
The Nude Blogger