Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When Thin Is "In" (in other words, always)

TW eating disorder; body talk

In my creation of my new Tumblr, I've been paying really close attention to the images that are shared on Facebook. I've found a ton of fodder for my project, but I've also noticed a few things which have caught my eye for other reasons. One such image is floating around and making me cringe. It's not necessarily sexist, but it is really triggering when it comes to eating disorders. I've included it under the cut.

[Image includes four small pictures of thin, white, female body parts, each with text over it. They read: Do you want hipbones or pizza? ...a gap between your thighs or cake? ...collarbones or sweets? ...a flat stomach or soda? At the bottom is a 5th, larger picture of a young blond woman laughing and clutching an assortment of packaged snacks including pizza, popcorn, Nutella, peanut butter, and others.]

The image is disturbing to me for a number of reasons. First is the fact that, last I checked, people generally HAVE hipbones and collarbones, no matter what their weight. Secondly, you could eat all that stuff and still be a thin person or never eat that stuff and be a fat person. And finally, this image is horrifically triggering to people who have had a diagnosed eating disorder, suffered from general disordered eating, fat shame, and/or body/food policing.

I've never dealt with disordered eating, but I have felt the distinct pressure to be thin, the shame of feeling ugly for not being thin, and a burning desire for my body to change. In fact, the first image in this set strikes particularly true to me. When I was in late middle school and into high school, mid drift shirts and super low rise jeans had just made their appearance. They were the rage. But the most important accessory to have with them was hip bones slightly showing. Like this:

I remember having discussions with one of my thinner friends about how her hip bones stuck out. I remember being really jealous of them and laying in bed on my back delighted that mine would poke a bit when I was in that position and sucked in. (I was smaller then.) I remember wondering how many pounds I needed to lose so that when I was standing they would be more evident. I wanted that "look" so bad.

I talk about this memory with friends a lot now because it is a very vivid and real example of how I used to really, deeply want thinness and hate my body. It's a relatable experience for most women. Even if that particular body change wasn't something they directly desired, they can understand the exact feelings I describe.

Like these pictures and my story indicate, markers of thinness become what we consider fashionable. Much how I wished and prayed for slightly protruding hip bones, I've heard women express desires for a gap between their thighs or more visible collarbones. Now, there's nothing wrong with ones body existing like this in its natural state. But when you body doesn't look like this and you hold up these attributes as markers of fashion and beauty instead of just natural variations on the human form--well--we have a problem. This picture set is emblematic of such a problem, which I suspect is pretty widespread. And I can tell you, I'm a whole lot happier now loving my body the way it is than I was spending my time and energy hating it.


  1. In the defense of that picture, I'm assuming it's intended as a response to "thinspiration" and that the message is pretty much "um, yeah, I'd rather eat tasty food than starve myself attempting to get skinny".

    That said, this might not be the best way to do so.

    1. Yeah, I get that it is trying to be at least a better presence than the voices which tell us we should skip treats to be thin. But it was still pretty triggering to me and I'm not even someone who has struggled with ED.


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