Lately it seems that everywhere I look on social media, women are embracing and celebrating curvy bodies. The old ideas that one must strive towards achieving a stick-thin supermodel body seems to have become a thing of the past and, though it’s clearly not completely gone, the pressure to meet that unrealistic standard is being taken off of women by women. This is a beautiful thing!
However, Pumpkin’s recent post on the body positivity movement really got me thinking about the downside of the push to accept and empower curvy bodies. Are we trying so hard to accept all bodies that we are in danger of crossing over into encouraging overweight and even obese bodies? Furthermore, are we putting down and skinny shaming those who happen to be thin by way of a lifestyle of intense exercise or merely by genetics?
Social media, and Instagram especially, is overflowing with posts about how so-and-so decided to stop striving for an unnatural super-model body and instead embraced their normal body. The comment sections are always filled with others encouraging, congratulating and celebrating the woman on her body and her bravery because “real bodies” are much more beautiful than skinny bodies. This always leaves me shaking my head a bit.
Why isn’t a skinny body considered a “real body”? I have seen #strongnotskinny more times than I can count and it makes me wonder why it has to be one or the other. Why can’t I be strong AND skinny?
The top US female marathoners are confirmation that strong and skinny can and do belong in the same sentence. Those women have devoted their lives to building incredible amounts of physical and mental strength that never cease to inspire me.
Likewise, many of us aspiring runners are on the thinner side merely by way of a lifestyle of training, not because we made a conscious decision to run to lose weight or to stay thin. I don’t run twice a day because of a compulsive obsession with weight-loss, but rather to become strong and fast enough to crush my running goals! Being a small person is a by-product of pursuing what I love.
Another thing about skinny shaming that never ceases to amaze me is the double standard there is in regards to making weight-related comments to a skinny person as opposed to any other body type. Here at Salty Running, we don’t really think fondly of unsolicited advice, about our running or weight or otherwise, so this really grinds on me. Recently I had an awkward moment in the airport on my way to a race when a man clearly looked me up and down and said, “You must not eat anything! How much do you weigh?”
I wondered to myself what would happen if he were to ask that question to an overweight person. It would undoubtedly be taken as an insult and he would probably receive a less-than-kind response. So why does anything go when it comes to the weight of a thin person?
Shouldn’t all healthy body types be respected and celebrated the same? Shouldn’t we extend the body positivity movement to include both skinny and curvy bodies? I am proud to be part of this Salty Running community where we lift up and support women for who they are and what they do, rather than what they look like.
**Our goal here at Salty Running is to not take the easy way out by riding the coattails of cliche assumptions, but rather to show how we all have complicated relationships with our bodies at some point in our lives. We hope to demonstrate the many ways we can be brave and vulnerable and empowered and STRONG AND SKINNY, because it’s just not as simple as a matter of weight. We will be sharing more stories of body positivity and how complicated that goal can be in the coming weeks.**
Have you been skinny shamed?