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Sky: Pointing out skinniness is still body shaming

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

While fat-shaming and thin-shaming are inherently different, we all know that fat-shaming is wrong. No one should ever be forced into a disadvantage simply because of their weight.

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In recent years, there has been progress when it comes to being sensitive and understanding that there is no ideal body type, specifically in regards to fat-shaming. However, that begs the question, why has skinny-shaming been deemed okay, when fat-shaming isn’t? This dichotomy promotes the idea that while one type of shaming is not okay, the other is still socially acceptable, when in fact neither are okay.

In order to really assert that there is no perfect body type, there needs to be an effort to end the perception that too thin is unattractive and too big is off-putting. We can encourage this by taking a moment to reconsider how we perceive a person; there are a multitude of reasons that may contribute to their appearance, and just because they don’t look like you doesn’t mean they are wrong.

It’s difficult to see skinny-shaming as an issue when the subject of weight has been used as a punch line for decades where larger characters portrayed in media exist to be either fat and funny or fat and embarrassing.

In recent events, comedian Bill Maher spoke out on how we need to reintroduce fat-shaming as the first step to health reform, and yet shame leads to depression and self-destructive behavior. Societal expectations in regards to weight push girls into being as skinny as possible and boys into being as buff and big as possible. It’s common that this anxiety stays hidden out of fear of social alienation.

Skylar Mayo, an art major at CSU, has had a lot of comments on her lack of weight throughout her life and finds it hurtful to be judged for her outward appearance.

“You never know how a stranger feels about themselves, so why laugh at them for something they’re probably aware of and are insecure about?” Mayo said. “I think a lot of people realize it isn’t cool to shame larger people, but for a petite person it’s somehow okay. But it shouldn’t matter. Just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I feel okay about my body.”

“There are a multitude of reasons that may contribute to their appearance and just because they don’t look like you doesn’t mean they are wrong.”

It often feels like our body is out of our control due to how we are structured by our genetics. There is research by the University of Cambridge to suggest that healthy thinness and severe obesity are heritable traits. Genetics play a strong role in determining our weight.

I’ve heard the term “Be thankful for your metabolism while you can” frequently while growing up. As a child, not knowing the correlation between my appearance and a fast metabolism was confusing. This led me to assume that everyone else was built right, and I wasn’t.

It is extremely common to simply write off someone skinny as someone who is bad at taking care of their nutritional needs, which isn’t necessarily true. “A complete stranger once looked me up and down and laughed at me,” Mayo said. “He said I needed to eat a sandwich. It was really humiliating.

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A lot of these body confidence issues go under the radar due to the stigma. For example, a male who is comparatively skinnier than the rest of his peers should keep these feelings to himself rather than be vocal about it.

In a study on college students by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 3.5% of women and 2.1% of men reported having an eating disorder. While these statistics give us an idea of the population we are working with, the lower number for men could show some non-response bias.

The concept that all men need to be tall and muscular mirrors the same unfair body expectations set upon women.

According to a study done by the School of Physical Education, most men who are affected by eating disorders such as anorexia are less willing to seek help because of the preconceived notions that anorexia is a female-related disorder.

This stigma only encourages negative stereotypes. The fact that a male seeking help is discouraged due to toxic masculinity is a tragedy that many will continue to suffer from. We need to be open and willing to hear about the struggles of another. Instead of automatically assuming that there is something wrong with this person, think a little harder, and be more accepting of other lifestyles even if they don’t match yours.

We can never really pin down why our body is the way it is. It comes from a variety of factors including our genetics, exercise rates and our metabolic rate. Instead, we should all take a step back to think about how everyone is different. It is as simple as that – no two bodies work or look the same. This gives us an opportunity to celebrate differences and realize that there will always be someone out there who will accept us for the way we are.

Nathan Sky can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NathanSky97

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