I’m fat. That shouldn’t be an insult, it’s a known fact, an adjective. People like to use it as an insult, but I like it because I can tell people I’m also phat.
Some girls are skinny. That shouldn’t be an insult either, but it’s turning into one.
In an age where the awareness of body-image issues is growing, it seems that in order to tell fat girls it’s alright to be fat, we need to tell skinny girls that there is something wrong with them. In fact, it’s apparently completely acceptable to tell a skinny girl to eat a sandwich but never tell a fat person to stop with the delicious jelly babies.
Today Mamamia published a post that really upset me. Written by Lucy Gransbury, the post was called ‘Unlike the Heart Foundation’s BMI calculator, clothing store Kookai thinks I’m fat’.
Lucy was complaining that she had gone into a Kookai store that sold only size 1 and 2 clothing which she couldn’t fit into (see further down for what that translates to in regular speak). This upset her because she, a ‘secure, self-assured female (and actor, which means I deal with having my flaws pointed out on a regular basis)‘ didn’t fit into their clothes. It made her feel shitty.
When I first started reading, I thought ‘fair enough’. She doesn’t like that she wasn’t fitting into the clothes. Let’s face it, the fashion industry is a mean, mean, meanie. I can totally agree with that – I’m not here to defend it. As I’ve said before, women just can’t win when they have unrealistic, photoshopped images shoved into their faces. That’s not the fault of skinny girls.
Lucy didn’t really attack the adulteration of women in advertising campaigns. Instead, she went on to say ‘At the very, very least, you should be catering to the entire healthy weight range, and not making perfectly fine females like me want to stick their fingers down their throat just to wear your summery yellows and Tiffany blues.’
HOLD UP, LADY.
So you’re a perfectly fine woman but girls who can fit into Kookai’s clothes aren’t?
In trying to make herself feel better about the fact that she can no longer fit into a brand she apparently wore six years ago, Lucy has essentially insulted every thin girl on the face of the Earth.
How dare you put down skinnier women to make yourself feel better? There is a serious problem with telling skinny girls that they are the way they are because they stick their fingers down their throats. There is a problem with telling girls to eat a sandwich. There is a problem with making skinny girls feel like they are the biggest jerks on the planet because they’re skinny. There is a problem with telling skinny girls that they’re not ‘real women’ because they ‘don’t have curves’.
This isn’t just a problem for skinny girls who are made to feel shit because of the way they naturally are. It’s a problem for girls who are a perfectly healthy fit for their own bodies, because it says that if you want to look the way that a naturally thinner girl does, all you have to do is stick a toothbrush down your throat after every meal. What a dangerous, fucked up idea to be promoting.
Let’s get one thing straight – people come in all shapes and sizes. I have a very good friend who I’ve watched eat an entire kilo of sausages on a thick, white loaf of bread, doused in tomato sauce, washed down by a 1.25L of Coke. I could literally make a life-like mannequin of her using just my left thigh. In fact, I could probably make her super-skinny teenage children as well. Apparently her petite figure has nothing to do with what she eats, same goes for her male and female children (although, she does have a really, really high cholesterol level).
Let’s get to the actual practicalities of these ridiculous comments that Lucy has made.
‘At the very, very least, you should be catering to the entire healthy weight range.’
What the hell kind of stupid statement is that? The entire healthy weight range? Please enlighten me, Lucy. What size is a ‘healthy weight range’? A woman can be a healthy weight at all different sizes. Some size 12 women are in a healthy weight range, some aren’t. Some size 6 women are in a healthy weight range, some aren’t.
Although BMI is a useful tool, it isn’t a perfect indicator of a ‘healthy’ size. What sizes should every store you feel like shopping at stock? 8-14? 6-12? 6-16? 6-78? Should we have health professionals sitting outside of every store, armed with a measuring tape and set of scales, sit there and determine if shoppers are a size that falls into your definition of a ‘healthy weight range’ before entering?
Before I continue though, let’s have a look at this post from Kookai’s Facebook page. In 2011, a woman was complaining of the same thing. This was the response:
Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
Now let’s look at the idea of making this a ‘specialty store’ that caters to skinny women. Could you imagine the absolute uproar that would result from a store that wanted to sell clothes just for petite women? Sure, a major chain is allowed to have a petite line – but a whole brand just for petite women? I can see it now – the absolute barrage of hate mail and accusations of fat-shaming and setting women up to unattainable standards – even if the store is there FOR A DIFFERENT TARGET MARKET. Stores are resorting to these tactics instead; stocking clothing that meets their petite demand, and good on ’em.
It seems that stores are allowed to cater to bigger women, but not smaller women. I’m a walking City Chic wardrobe. They opened up to fill the void that was stylish, plus sized clothing. I have had so many friends grab a dress off their rack, only to be disappointed that it didn’t come in a size 10 or 12.
Wait, hang on! LET’S THROW ROCKS AT THEM. Let’s stop them from making clothes for plus sized women. Only healthy weight ranges should be catered to. Fat women are heifers that should be banned from wearing clothes and only ‘fine females’ who are ‘fairly fit and normal’ like Lucy should be allowed to wear clothes.
It’s like all the middle aged men who complain about Justin Bieber and One Direction – YOU. ARE. NOT. THE. TARGET. MARKET.
That brings me to my next point.
‘by not classifying yourself as a specialty store, you are promoting an unhealthy body image, which is particularly concerning for the many teenage girls with more money than I had at that age, who actually try on your stretchy clothes in your fancy change room, and end up crying at their reflection.’
Well, apparently at 20, when you had ‘slightly less chub’, you were fitting into their clothing. At that point, you did meet their target market. At that point you weren’t crying at your reflection. What if you read your post all those years ago when you were wearing that fabulous green, silk dress? How would you feel, knowing that some ‘fine woman’ thought you had stuck your finger down your throat to get to that size. In Judge Judy’s words – YOU ARE OUTRAGEOUS, MADAM.
Let’s flip this around. What about all the skinny girls who aren’t catered to in most stores – I’m not talking haute couture fashion here. I’m talking accessible, wearable fashion that can be worn by your regular, everyday girl. Don’t they cry when they walk into a store and try on the smallest size, only to slip into a tent? Don’t they deserve to be seen in fabulous outfits and not chastised for their petite frame? Do skinny girls have to be left to alter their clothes so that you and your ‘healthy weight range’ girls are satisfied?
As an aside, there is a trend to vanity size – making clothes BIGGER, without changing the size because when people wear smaller sizes, they feel better and purchase more. Just ask Cosmo
But go ahead. Petition the store. If their size 10 is much smaller or much bigger than the average size 10, throw a fit – that’s a perfectly fair thing to cry about. Write to the Prime Minister if you must. Don’t flip this around on skinny girls and make them out to be these body-hating-food-expelling-non-existent nobodies, even when it’s just through association. It’s more harmful than you think.
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What an amazingly true post! I’ve gone through years of facing disparaging comments about my body weight being “you’re too skinny!” or “OHMYGOD you do YOU want to go to the gym…you need to gain weight!”. It’s always made me feel super self conscious and like I have to justify making healthy life choices. I also hate the whole “real women have curves” because of its implication that you can’t be skinny and be a woman. Now I’ve actually put on a bit of weight just to stop hearing about it! Thanks for writing about it Amne 🙂
That is so awful! I mean, I’ve dealt with people telling me I’m fat but that’s actually something I could control… it would be good for me to do. I can only imagine how much harder it is to deal with when you’re doing everything right.
I’m so glad I could express that sentiment on your behalf.
Fantastic reply! Before having kids, I was a size 6/XS, fast forward 6 years later + 2 kids, I am now a size 8-10. I eventually gave away/donated my old size 6 clothes because I have “accepted” that I’ll no longer go back to this size. Kookai clothing is not for everyone, not even for me when I was a size 6 as I couldn’t justify spending that much on their items.
I truly think there is a liberation that comes with accepting that being at a certain size or fitting into a certain item of clothing may not be for you. I hope that you are happy in the skin your in – the older I get, the more I admire what mothers can do. You are a wonderwoman almost by default!
Well said! It’s so refreshing to read your article. Thanks for taking the time and effort to express your thoughts xx
No problem at all! I’m glad to see that you’ve enjoyed it 🙂
Thanks unveiledthought. This is so refreshing and even moreso given it has not been written by a skinny woman! Admittedly when I read Lucy’s article I personally did not feel she was lashing out at those thinner than her but the points you raise are so very true and resonated with me. I am skinny and have curves, a butt yet bony hips and torso. I have always sat just below what the BMI classifies as healthy but I eat whatever I want and am an active person. It is just the way I am. Aside from being told the usual “we need to fatten you up”, “take another serve, you need it”, “there’s no meat on your bones” etc it’s the “you’re so lucky to be skinny, you can fit into anything” that riles me the most. I have just as much trouble finding suitable clothes as the next person, regardless of size. Many a time I have stormed out of a fitting room at the point of tears (or in tears) after spending a whole day shopping and trying on the smallest sizes available only to walk away empty handed. It’s a vicious circle, society wants to “fatten up” the thinness it seemingly strives to achieve.
I knew my extra layers would come in handy one day!
I don’t think Lucy was purposefully trying to be horrible to skinny women either, but I mean like I had said, it’s really easy to fall into ‘eat a sandwich’ mode when it comes to petite women. Your shopping experiences sound an awful lot like mine – thank goodness for online shopping and places like Asos! I really like what you’ve said in your last sentence – that’s basically it. Fatten up the thin girls we make and cover up the women we sexualise. Much confusion indeed!
Absolutely and while it would be a perfect world to just walk into any shop and both like their designs, be able to fit into their sizes that complement our body shape and be able to afford their clothes (whatever your budget), it’s an unrealistic expectation given we are all so different to eachother. On the flip side, the beautiful thing is the development of brand loyalty that cater, whether intentionally or otherwise, to our own individual style and physique needs.
On a side note, I really enjoy your writing style and reading your blogs. I read in your profile you work in science (which I’m sure you’re fabulous at) but I think you’ve missed your calling in journalism – keep up the fabulous work!
Like Kitty said, it’s so good to see these thoughts coming from a larger woman. If I had a dollar for every time another woman made a bitchy remark about my weight, and then justified it by saying, “Oh please, I *wish* I had your problem,” I’d be able to shop at Kookai!
It sounds trite but why can’t we women just support each other? Size 6, big deal, size 26, who gives a bibble, all sizes can be beautiful and healthy, and if they’re not, it’s nobody else’s business.
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Yeah it seems sisterhood has flown out the window. It’s a dog eat dog race to be top…well… bitch, if we’re speaking in completely technical terms! I’m glad to see a lot of really sweet sentiments being expressed in the comments though and it tells me that we’ll be alright in the end. Amen to that!
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Another great article Amne I can definitely relate to this. I’m sick of people telling me I need to eat more even though I eat like there is no tomorrow. Another comment I got recently was I need to fatten up in order to have a baby, I mean Really now lol does that mean alot of people in this world can’t have babies just coz they’re skinny another comment was don’t excersice otherwise you’ll dissappear
LoL but as you know I’m stubborn and do what I want and how I want when I do want to gain a bit of weight for myself then I work my ass off to do so and when I don’t then I don’t and no one can stop me :p I like the way I am.
P.S ever since I started reading your articles I keep checking my Facebook and this site to see if you posted anything else 😀 keep writing and may god bless you and give you whatever you wish in life 🙂
Poor bub! You’re so gorgeous, tell people to just go away! I like you the way you are too. I’d sing you that Bruno Mars song if I could!
I’m glad to know you’re enjoying my random rants – that make me super duper happy!! Thank you so much! I hope he gives it right back to you too.
Totally awesome post! Thanks for writing this (and as PPs said, totally happy it came from a not-size-6). You’re right – I tried to shop in Target a little while ago and I could not find any underwear in my size… apparently I can only shop in Target if I’m size 10 or over? Are skinny people supposed to buy clothes only from expensive stores? Meanwhile, it’s also not cool to use eating disorders (which are serious, psychological issues) as a way to “shame”. I’m getting over it and mamamia is a pretty big cuplrit for these types of articles. And I really hate that I’m not a “real” woman just because I’m a size 6.
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Yeah, it’s almost like you’re expected to just use belts for everything – even your underwear, apparently!! It’s fascinating how much society wants us all to be a size 6 but then turns around and does the ‘real woman’ rubbish. If a person identifies as a woman, they’re a a woman!
And yeah I totally know where you’re coming from with the eating disorder comments.
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Laid I just had to laugh, I had exact same problem at Target! After searching high and low (yes Target, you can thank me for tidying your lingerie department along the way) I finally found a couple 8s or 8/10 being their smallest size haha
Spot on regarding the mental illnesses too – it’s such a shame, although it’s getting better, mental illness is still a very taboo part of our society despite being so prolific and so dire.
Buy it online. Much better choice, and if the shops don’t want to supply what you need, they have only themselves to blame.
I just hope an extra tax isn’t added on this year! I get all my lipsticks online now for a fraction of the cost.
Pretty sure Lucy wasn’t having a go at skinny girls. She said “you should be catering to the entire healthy weight range”. She never said that skinny girls are unhealthy. She never even said what she thinks is the healthy weight range.
Having read her entire article it sounds to me like she just wants them to make some bigger sizes to cater to a wider range of body types. There is nothing in there to suggest she thinks that being small enough to fit into their clothes is unhealthy.
If anything you inferred that she thinks skinny people are unhealthy because of your own beliefs so maybe take a look into that. This article seems to point out that you have issues with what is classified as a healthy weight.
I don’t think she went out of her way to insult skinny girls, but I didn’t like how in order to make a point about the sizes being offered, it had to slip into ‘you have to throw up to fit into these clothes’ territory, which tells skinny girls that there’s something wrong with them and tells girls who want to be that thin that they have to barf to get there. As I said, dangerous territory to be sitting in.
So true! I get criticised regularly by family and friends for my weight, and told to ‘eat something’. I rarely find clothing that fita me unless I go to stores like this. Just because you’re small doesn’t make you unhealthy. I’m also stupidly short, so for my height I’m a good size 🙂
I did feel Lucy’s article was a bit of an unfair criticism on skinny girls.
I read lucy’s rant at kookai and at first I was thinking she had a point, offering only 2 sizes is incredibly limiting. however I didnt think the amount of vitriol in the article was right and thats as far as I looked. this is the first response to Lucys rant ive seen, and what im taking away from it is that size does not determin health or happiness. one thin women I know is sallow skinned and has low energy, she seems to live on water but she thinks she is a goddess, another is toned, works out hard and eats right yet all she wants is a bust, they would probably be the same size. me? im big but not huge, I sit in the middle of the sizing range, not big enough for the plus sizes but just out of the usual size range (whatever that is). I look long and hard for things that fit right and dont complain if I cant go to witchery or cue, there are other stores that suit me better and are better quality. Actually theres an argument I want to see, the poor manufacturing quality offered in some of these higher priced stores.
off topic. Anyway thankyou for producing this thoughtful counter rant defending all bodies and the right to feel unashamed.
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With all due respect, I think you may have misinterpreted Lucy Gransbury’s article. She never suggested that girls who fit Kookai’s clothes aren’t “perfectly fine”. She was simply saying that if you don’t fit Kookai’s clothing, it doesn’t mean you’re any less fine than the girls who do fit them (but by the same token, in no way does this imply that the girls who do fit Kookai’s sizes are less fine than those who don’t). I take it that she thinks girls of all sizes (those who do fit Kookai’s clothing and those who don’t) are perfectly fine. Does that make sense?
Also, she never suggested that girls small enough to fit Kookai’s sizes are only that small because they stick their finger down their throat. In no way did she have a “just eat a sandwich” attitude towards such girls. She was merely saying that for her (her, not other girls) to fit into Kookai’s clothing, then she, personally, would have to stick her finger down her throat (or engage in other means of weight loss).
I’m a skinny girl myself, and I certainly didn’t feel insulted by her article.
Anyway, not trying to be harsh with this comment. 🙂 I think you make a good point- that skinny shaming is just as bad as fat shaming. It’s just, good as your point is, it really, really doesn’t apply to Lucy’s article.
I loved your comment – there was so much kindness in it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
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Thanks for your article. I really like your point of view. I have been on both sides. Im 1,6m and Im fat! When I was younger until 23 I was Size 6-8 and people kept telling me to eat and put on weight. Now, 6 years later, 3 children and +20kg Im a size 14-16 and I feel sad everytime someone suggest diet, gym or say “you’re fat, you should loss weight”
I know for sure I am not in a healthy weight but I think my cholesterol was highter when I was skinny lol
We should love us no matter what our size is 🙂
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Yes, thank you for writing this article. This ‘thin shaming’ angers me a lot. I can’t count the number of times people have said, ‘just eat this’ or ‘oh well it’s ok because you’re thin’. Er hello its not ok to make someone feel bad about being perfectly healthy at the size they are. I would never tell another person to stop eating! It is just as damaging the other way rou d. You are so right in it making thin girls feel bad or like lesser women. How has it become acceptable for ‘healthy weight’ range to pressure thin girls into putting on weight? It saddens me that this has become the norm. No one should make you feel bad about your size, whatever size they are! Thank you for writing this, and even myself as a size 6/8 I can see this will be taken much more seriously as it has been written by someone who isn’t a size 6! So thank you. It’s almost as though if we complain we get judged because we are ‘lesser women’ or just ‘lucky to have that problem’. These attitudes are so harmful, but I saw your comment earlier and I do think yes, there are definitely some of us women who will speak out and stand up together. Anyway rant over, do keep writing – your articles are great and thanks for actually spreading something with positive values on the web!!
You are so welcome! I mean, I’ve had to face my own “body demons” and accept who I am – but there’s an entire body acceptance movement that tells bigger women that it’s okay for them to love themselves. I don’t think it’s fair that more petite women don’t get the same support. I believe that everyone should be able to look at themselves in the mirror most days and think ‘wow. I’m amazing and I’m so lucky to be alive!’ We all have our own issues and I don’t think anyone is ever 100% content with themselves.
I definitely wrote this article knowing it would have more weight (excuse the pun :P) because I’m not in that smaller size group.
Very happy to hear you’re enjoying the posts! It’s people like you who I write for 🙂
I’ve gotten used to it..I just assure people that I do eat (a lot, and not always healthily). But there were maybe a few instances in the past when I felt kind of skinny-shamed. Once when a columnist complained about a lingerie brand because they didn’t have “anything that would carry real boobs, not mosquito bites” (and I do frequent that store cos, well, they have nice A-cups that fit). And another time when I traveled outside Asia to the US, where most people were white, tall and voluptuous. I felt like an ugly grasshopper!
No way! You should love the skin your in and don’t let people make you feel any less beautiful than you are 🙂