Thursday, May 15, 2014

Give the Girl a Sandwich

by Giselle Renarde

I just ate an entire pizza. I'm pretty full, but I don't feel guilty about it. Food is my friend, and everybody who's told you otherwise is a dirty rotten liar... and, frankly, a bit of a jerk.

See, I'm a tiny person. I'm a toothpick person.  If I wanted to donate blood (and I do), I'd have to gain 20 pounds (and I'm trying), but this is my body. I came this way right out of the box (ewww--that's not what I meant).  I've never dieted in my life. In fact, I reverse-dieted in an attempt to put on some pounds when I was younger, but my heart gets sludgy now if I eat too much fatty food. Gettin' old, yo!

Anyone who doesn't share my body type probably thinks I'm bragging. Look at me! I'm so skinny! There's a reason I've never written this blog post, though I've wanted to many times: Oh, Giselle, you poor little rich girl.  Stop your complaining.  You don't know how good you've got it.

Actually, I shouldn't say I'm skinny, because I see my body as well-proportioned. I like it. I have zero complaints, aside from the joint pain. Joint pain sucks. Aside from that, I don't have a problem with my body.

Other people have a problem with my body. I know because they tell me--to my face, behind my back, in veiled criticisms or back-handed compliments. "Don't you eat?" "Eww... I can see your bones."  "Why are your cheeks so sunken? You look like a crack whore."

My favourite has got to be, "Are you anorexic? Haha." Umm no. And I'm not sure why you're laughing. "What's wrong? It's a compliment. Haha."

Wow. No. It's really, really not.

Lisabet started the week writing about anorexia. It's serious stuff.  It's not funny and it's not a compliment. And I really hope people know that. But I'm not sure they do.

We all have the bodies we have. This is me.  My physical form is not public property. It's not open to commentary. I don't want to hear what random people think of it. I don't want to be told it's abnormal or ill or doesn't meet someone else's standard of normalcy.

And the funny (not funny) thing is that bodies at both ends of the spectrum seem to face the same kind of public critique. I'm small, but I've overheard a lot of twitter conversations between big women about the hardcore anti-fatness they face from strangers, family members, doctors... the list goes on.

It's not fun when people make assumptions about your mental health or physical well-being based on the size and shape of your body.

That's why I'm especially hurt when pro-fat people choose to turn their contempt on... well, ME. Being pro-fat doesn't have to mean anti-thin. I watched a documentary called Chubby Chaser (it was really unsettling for reasons outside the scope of this post) and at one point the filmmaker attends a BBW convention. The thing that really grabbed my attention was the derogatory attitude many participants held toward thin women.

"Give the girl a sandwich!"

"Eat something!"

It's unfortunate, because declaring one body type superior to another does nothing to further your cause. Insulting others only exposes an internal discomfort. I realize this happens because popular culture pushes thin so hard, and by all means DO push back, but push at the mentality. Don't push the people.

We've all got better things to do than make value judgements about others based solely on their body size.



  1. Thank you for writing this, Giselle! I couldn't agree with you more.

    There's some research (don't ask me where I read it, but it was someplace reputable) that found women who were beautiful (by society's definition) actually felt worse about their bodies and their appearance than the non-perfect ones.

    I'd love to find out from Garce and JP whether men all hate their bodies too...

    1. I don't hate my body--other people hate my body. I don't actually think about my appearance (don't put on makeup, just wear whatever's comfortable, no interest in fashion). My body's just what gets me around.

  2. I've been lucky I guess. I've never been underweight to any degree, although I did run heavier when I was working in restaurants and drinking. Lighter weight enables one to move easier, not carrying so much weight. But the main thing is that our health stays okay, whatever body type we have.

  3. Giselle, I love your image at the bottom of the post! And it's a great point you make about how being pro-fat shouldn't mean anti-thin. Acceptance of all body types and caring for others is the only way out of these impossible societal standards, I think.

    I wrote a book for a line focused on curvy women, and I thought really carefully about how I wanted to handle these issues. I ended up writing a major subplot about the main character and a thin, blonde A-list movie star becoming friends, and how that changes them both. I've seen an unfortunate trope in romance novels where females besides the main character are all portrayed as bitches or obstacles, and in some books focused on curvy protagonists where thin women are belittled. I really wanted to subvert that.

    As you say, we all have the bodies we have, and no one should be subjected to public critique.

    1. I didn't even touch on the whole "skinny bitch" phenomenon in rubenesque erotic romance. I've noticed it and I find it very, very sad... particularly because, not to sound fetishy or anything, but I happen to like curvy girls. Especially quirky artsy nerdy curvy girls. But it's totally not a fetish! heh.

      I love that image too. The artist said she created it because she found it unsettling that many big girls like herself were saying things like "REAL WOMEN have curves"--elevating themselves by demeaning others. I cringe any time a sentence begins with "real women/real men" so her sentiment spoke to me.

    2. If I had a like button here, I'd click the hell out of it.

  4. Great insight here. I agree completely about being non-judgmental, especially since being judged in these ways leads to backlash judging.


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