Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Nikki Minaj and Iggy Azalea undoubtedly represent the new ideal of the curvy, healthy-looking woman, yet have artists and the media gone so far deifying women with this body type, that bashing those who are naturally thin-framed has become a new form of bullying? Meghan Trainor’s All About the Bass was a big hit world-round, not only because of its catchy rhythms and unforgettable melody, but also because it encouraged millions of fuller-figured women to embrace their curves and show them off with pride. Still, within the lyrics is a little dig at slimmer women (“I’m bringing booty back, go ‘head and tell them skinny bitches that.”), surely indicative of a lack of acceptance rather than a tolerance and acceptance of all types of beauty.
Catherine Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge has undoubtedly been subject to much criticism for her lithe frame since her engagement to Prince William was officially announced. In 2012, American TV show host Katie Couric said that although the Duchess was the guest she would most like to visit her show, “I think she needs to eat more because she’s so thin”. Her statement caused an uproar owing to its implication that Kate deliberately refrained from eating healthily (the media began speaking in terms of an eating disorder), yet far from abating following this incident, criticism of Kate’s figure has continued to appear in tabloids and serious publications alike. Just recently, feminist Germaine Greer said that while Kate is “a great deal more intelligent than the rest of the royals,” her freedom has been curtailed: “She has learned what she has to do and say and how to do and say it in the approved way. Spontaneity will get her in trouble.” As if all that wasn’t enough, Greer added, “The girl is too thin.”
These comments lead us to frame the question: who has the right to decide whether or not the Duchess is actually ‘too thin’? Evidence that Kate actually dieted prior to the wedding is scant, with some reports claiming she strictly followed the Dukan diet and other stating she is a firm follower of the raw food diet and still others citing healthy juices and smoothies as the reason for her slim frame. Ultimately, in the absence of any statement from the Duchess herself, it makes little sense to make statements suggesting that the Duchess is eating irresponsibly in the aim of attaining an ideal of thinness that is expected of actors, celebrities, and females from the royal family.
One new study published by researchers from Kent University shows that some people can consume many calories without gaining weight, while others can consume far less and pack on the pounds. The study compared female rates with a genetic tendency to be slim, with those which tended towards obesity. They found that when resting, the rats in the two groups consumed the same amount of energy but when they exercised, the lean rats burned more calories than the fuller rats. In a previous study, the same team had showed that an animal’s ability to transport oxygen and use it during exercise influences its shape; those with a higher aerobic capacity tended to be thinner. Therefore, it is impossible to ascertain a person’s actual caloric consumption based on their appearance.
The issue goes beyond the scientific, of course. Thin bashing has come to be akin to bullying and social media is ablaze with imagery and memes such as the following (often, interestingly, accompanying photographs of Marilyn Monroe): “Before the glorification of ‘skinny’ there was something called ‘sexy’”, “Real men like curves, only dogs go for bones” or “A woman without curves is like jeans without pockets.” Clearly meant to raise the confidence levels of those who are curvy, the memes are hardly accepting of those with the opposite body type – and no, not everyone with a low BMI is competing with other females or under the throes of an eating disorder, though even if the latter were the case, much can be said for the value of support and acceptance in lieu of criticism. We can take a stance against thin bashing precisely by not looking to royals or celebrities to define our ideals of beauty, and by refusing to take part in the new sport of thin bashing.
This is an article by Helen Wilshire