Several weeks back, I was having a quiet drink down the pub. It was kind of warm, so I took off my cardigan, leaving my arms bare in my strappy vest. A man in his 40s decided to sit himself down next to me, and tell me, “You need to put on some weight, girl!”
This kind of comment is nothing new to me. I have always been very slim – depending on the shop, a UK size 6 or 8 (European size 34 or 36 / US size 2 or 4) – and people have always felt the need to tell me so, or talk about my size behind my back. There’s nothing like having old women in the chip shop discuss my figure; “She’s so skinny!” stage whispered with revulsion, a look of disgust on their faces.
People have accused me of having an eating disorder. People have told me that I need more meat on my bones. People have always made it clear that my body isn’t beautiful. Despite these comments being something I’ve grown up with, they’re still hurtful. Sizeism is rife, and a problem. We all know it’s not on to be body shaming bigger people; it’s rude, it’s disgusting, and it’s offensive. But when it comes to those of us who are slimmer, nobody seems to see anything wrong with sharing their opinion of our bodies.
Caoimhe Tracey has had similar experiences. “I’m 27 years old, work in the area of special needs, am a bit too emotionally attached to fictional characters, and happen to be a UK size 4 [US size 1 / European size 32]. For some reason, to a lot of the public, this last bit of information about me is sickening. I am often classified as unhealthy or can be talked about – to my face – as if I have some sort of disease that affects other peoples’ lives.”
Sarah Key* reports the same. “I have had the same weight since I was in my late teens, and I have been a regular European size 36 / UK size 8 [US size 4] since I was 16, so not exactly unusually thin. I have, however, been suspected of having eating disorders, or starving myself, due to my size. This was especially true when I was younger, and with people I didn’t know that well.”
And it can be surprising where some of the comments come from. “I’m petite, as many would say, being only 4’10, but that means I am very slim and always have been,” said Nichola Vo. “As a result, people tend to remark that I should eat more, or that I’m lucky. It’s strange because when I think about it, it’s come from mainly family. Like, the ‘Put on some weight,’ or ‘You’re too skinny,’ comments.” Continue reading