I am in total agreement with this post from Bitch Magazine, and have been ever since I was called out for making similar comments in college.
I had two roomies in my freshman year of college, Rosa and Nicole. (hello, if you’re reading this!) Now, Rosa was a very small, thin young woman, while Nicole was larger, and I was larger still! Nicole and I would constantly say things like “You’re so skinny, I bet you can eat anything!” or “Well, you wouldn’t understand, because you’re so skinny.” They weren’t even comments of the “eat a cheeseburger” variety, but they focused on her skinniness to the point where it was almost held against her. Which, of course, it was. As young women on the other end of the body spectrum, we were used to not measuring up. And I’ll admit, I was very defensive about that at the time, and sort of resented anyone who didn’t “get it.”
Then one day, after Nicole or I (I forget which) made some remark about Rosa being skinny, she finally snapped and rightfully called us out. “What makes you think it’s okay to keep saying stuff like that to me?” she said. “Did you ever stop to think that maybe I don’t WANT to be this skinny? Did you ever think that I might be self-conscious about it? I’ve TRIED gaining weight! I WISH I had more curves…” etc, etc. We were totally ashamed of ourselves, as none of that had ever occurred to us.
Now, whenever I hear someone say that someone needs to “eat a Happy Meal” or “eat a sandwich” or “eat [insert fatty food here]”, I feel like someone’s making a fat joke at MY expense. It hurts me as a woman. Because that’s the real problem. Women’s bodies are under public scrutiny in a way they shouldn’t be. Whether they’re celebrity bodies, or regular ones we see when walking in the street, we all feel that it’s entirely appropriate to comment on how she should or shouldn’t look. And yes, women bear the brunt of it (for those of you who will inevitably say that men get judged, too. Yes, they do. There’s no denying that. But women not only get judged more, but get judged more by BOTH genders!). And while it’s natural to feel the need to comment on people’s appearance (and while we could all stand to be less judgmental IN GENERAL), there’s a difference between commenting on someone’s outfit, or someone’s hair, and commenting on someone’s body. There’s a difference between saying “that dress doesn’t fit her properly” and “she’s too fat to be wearing a dress like that.” There’s a difference between saying “I’m concerned that she’s a victim of the unreasonable Hollywood beauty standard” and “eat a cheeseburger!” One is constructive, the other is catty and hurtful. I’ll trust you all to decide which is which.
I can do that, can’t I?