Sticks And Stones

Last week Sue O’Lear (@MrsFatass) wrote a great blog post about her anxiety over her upcoming Zumba® certification class. The main concern she wrote about was

WHAT IF I AM THE FATTEST PERSON THERE?

Ugh. That feeling is so familiar. Even though I’m not overweight now, I was for so much of my life that being “the fattest person there” is an all-too-familiar, so-very-uncomfortable feeling. I can remember elementary school birthday parties, summer camp sessions, high school dances, and even work events where I definitely felt like the fattest person there. Sue’s ability to face her insecurities head on, and even turn them around to her advantage, is inspiring.

But as I read some of the comments that people left to encourage her, I got really sad. There were a number of comments referring to thin women as “sticks” or “twigs,” and discussing them in a negative context. While they were defending Sue from being judged for her size, they seemed to be doing the same to people who may be underweight. 

Is this really as far as we’ve come? We are quick to defend people who are overweight, but still willing to dismiss someone as a skinny b*tch?

What will it take for us to stop judging others based on their size?

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16 Responses to Sticks And Stones

  1. Cathy says:

    Agreed…
    This reminds me of the recent blog entry from Hanne Blank, "Real Women." Maybe you've seen it, not sure – it's gone around the web a few times and back, but even if so, worth a look again. "Humans are real."

    • Coco says:

      Thanks, Cathy, I hadn't read that. My thinking still needs work in this area so I'm calling myself out as much as I'm reacting to others.

  2. FindingMyHappyPace says:

    Interesting.. I wouldn't have thought about it in the reverse way, but it's a great point. Seems like a natural defense for woman in all situations, like when a guy breaks up with her, she's told that he was immature, she's too good for him, etc, etc.

  3. SuperBabe76 says:

    The link that Cathy posted was really interesting! This is so true: "There is no wrong way to have a body." Now I just need my hips to be on board with that! 🙂 And I definitely agree with you Coco… extremes are never good…

  4. MrsFatass says:

    It is a great point. Things like this happen wherever there are differences – stay at home moms and working moms are both moms, but often give each other the sideeye because those differences also create insecurity. Size is something easy to compare because it's so visual. I'm not sure that those who left the comments at my place were being entirely mean spirited; I think my post encouraged a sort of honest venting about what makes us anxious, and lots and lots of people face down big anxieties every time they walk into the gym, you know?
    Thanks so much for including me in your thoughts. It's a great discussion!

    • Coco says:

      Thanks, Sue! I don't think the comments that I read were being mean-spirited (certainly not intentionally), and that may have been one reason why they got to me. We don't always realize that our stereotypes go both ways.

  5. Tara Burner says:

    I've had to deal with both and my daughter is on the receiving end of "reverse bullying" where people make insensitive callous comments on her being thin, though she eats A LOT, she's naturally thin…yet bullied to the point I had her homeschooled this year! So REALLY….to those who want to call smaller/thinner/skinnier/fitter people names….you're not better than the people who call you/your friends big/overweight/fat/obese/whatever!!!!!

    I had posted this on Sue's blog but it's still waiting 'moderator approval'

    "wow where everyone is posting positive reinforcement here for Sue, some of your comments about “twigs” and “sticks” is exactly the same as those who call overweight people names…just reverse…I’ve been both…ultra skinny and obese and my daughter is naturally small and I’ve had to battle insensitive people and their rude, thoughtless, snide comments directed at her just the same as some I’m sure have had to deal with the other realm and being called names for being overweight…why can’t everyone be sensitive to everyone…whether skinny, big or otherwise…was the calling of skinny/fit people “twigs” and “sticks” really necessary?"

  6. Kris M Beal says:

    Hmmmmm – very interesting! I was never a big girl – so that is not my story at all – and my heart goes out to people who have walked that path. What I've learned is being little is not the same as being healthy. My not ever being aware of "weight" (until I was 30 then 40 LOL) is SO MUCH part of my not ever honoring health, movement, food for fuel, and a lifetime of REALLY bad habits. It's funny, when I was at Fitbloggin, I had people ask me, "What's your story? Did you lose a bunch of weight?" And I said, "Uh… no." And I have to say I felt a little out of place. Sigh…

    • Coco says:

      Interesting comment on Fitbloggin. Although I do have a "weight loss story" it was so long ago it's not something that I think of as part of my identity anymore. Now "my story" is more about getting up at o'dark-thirty to exercise because I want/need to and making healthy food choices because that's the food I prefer.

  7. Mary says:

    I totally agree with this! Favorite mantra on the subject: "Real" women may have curves and they may not. All women are "real" women.

    I went to a lecture once talking about there being no real middle ground between "fat cow" and "skinny bitch," that the progress of feminism needs to refocus from getting men to treat us equally to getting us to treat each other better.

    • Coco says:

      Thanks for you comment. Going to my kids' middle school chorus events–where all the students are lined up on stage–really drove home the concept of people coming in all shapes and sizes (especially seeing the kids at different stages of puberty).

  8. Yep…I agree completely and it was a couple of years ago when I had the same thought as Mary…ALL women are REAL women! It's one thing I think our particular niche of bloggers is pretty good at…accepting all right where they are.

  9. Very, Very good point Coco. We easily judge the "thin" people and point out they refer to us as fat. We need to stop the judging and start the helping.

  10. Beth says:

    Yes, so much criticism of others stems from (self) insecurities…our society reinforces the superficial way that we often evaluate others (Wallis Simpson – "A woman can't be too rich or too thin")…and it is sometimes a challenge to be mindful, present and take the time to look at the whole person – which is the important part!

  11. Beth says:

    …And when I was in the 4th grade, some mean-spirited girls called me "fat mama" (I was chubby) and a good friend was called "daddy toothpick) (she was naturally very thin). "Funny" how those things stick in your brain!!! 🙁

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