In Defense of the Skinny Girl

two women speaking in caffee
two women speaking in caffee

I am a size 0.
Sometimes I'm a 00.
This isn't because I diet.
This isn't because I don't like food.
This isn't because I have poor self-image.

This is because I am the size my body decided to be.

We young women (and men -- you shouldn't be left out of the weight issue) are fortunate enough to live in a time where the media we so ceaselessly absorb is recognizing the importance of health, and starting to shun the "underweight is beautiful" beliefs of the past. The imperfections and uniqueness of our bodies are celebrated and Photoshopping is demonized as a misleading and harmful practice. Because we're successfully pulling away from shockingly thin images of young women, the instinct is to pull away and away until the only women we celebrate as "real" are those with curves. As wrong as the celebration of underweight women is, the celebration of only women with curves is just as wrong.

Curvy women can complain about not fitting into a dress, or not pulling of a certain style, and that's okay because they're real women with real woman problems. In a world that seems to cater to the unreasonably thin, the "real" women get to claim their beauty. They get to shout it, and it's wonderful because they accept it -- they celebrate themselves, and others follow. This is a wonderful and healthy thing, and I hope that it continues through my generation and on to the next.

However, those of us without curves sometimes get punished in this social healing process. As a petite young woman, the response I most commonly get when I bring up my size in conversation is to "shut up" -- I couldn't possibly have anything to complain about. When I return empty-handed from the dressing room because nothing I tried stays on my body, my defeat is met with bitterness, not reassurance. It is as if this same complaint, coming from the mouth of a thin person, is in poor taste; like some sort of underhanded brag.

The proposed solution to being too small for a piece of clothing is always the same: "Eat more" or "gain some weight." As though pressuring my body to assume a new shape will make me "normal." However, if the situation was different, and I were a curvy girl who was too large for a piece of clothing, no one would propose that I "eat less" or "lose some weight" without being seen as seriously offensive.

The point I am searching for is that no one -- large or small -- should be pressured into being something that they naturally are not. The human body has no mold; it has no set size or shape or proportion. Beauty does not have a set of criteria and normal does not exist. Whether you are 6'2" or 5'3," whether you weigh 200 pounds or 95 -- you are human and I bet you're beautiful.