A few days ago, I wrote about designer LaQuan Smith’s stunning Spring 2015 presentation during New York Fashion Week. I was so thrilled to have been at this particular show, because Smith always raises the bar when it comes to creating sexy, alluring looks for women.
In the photo accompanying the piece, there were three gorgeous women of color rocking Smith’s latest wares. They were tall and ‘model-thin,’ as runway models tend to be and I thought nothing of it. Beautiful comes in all sizes, shapes and colors, and this variety happened to be on the skinny side. So when the mean comments hit our Facebook page, I was taken aback.
“That girl needs to eat a burger,” You can count her ribs,” and about 60 other hurtful, skinny shaming comments blew my mind away. Now, far be it for me to say that we don’t need to have a conversation about the lack of body-diversity in the modeling world. It’s not right that ‘thin’ is the only body type that gets to grace the runway in major shows, especially when it’s often a thinness that most women can’t attain in a healthy way (and there are plenty of stories about eating disorders and models being dissed for being 2, 3 pounds “overweight.”) However, I think the Black community has our own problem with making skinny sisters feel like they aren’t good enough, and that doesn’t help anyone with their body image issues.
As a curvy Black girl, with friends as slim as a size 0 and as full-bodied as a size 16, I’ve so often seen my smaller girlfriends catch hell for being ‘too small.’ The preference for hourglass and thick body types in our community has left them feeling inadequate at times.
As a woman who knows all too well how it feels to be insecure because of her shape, I have no interest in watching other women be put down for their body types. Being curvy doesn’t make you more of a woman, and being thin or skinny doesn’t make you less of one. We posted that image to highlight the fabulous work of a Black designer, not to give anyone the opportunity to make women feel bad about their bodies. So what if you can see the girls ribs? That’s her body. It isn’t right for us to make bigger women feel bad for their ‘extra’ pounds and it isn’t any better for us to make fun of a slim chick for being tiny.
And, let me say this: We know that women of all sizes find themselves grappling with eating disorders. Shaming them for their size does nothing to cure them. Anorexia and bulimia are not jokes, nor can they be remedied by eating an extra burger or telling a sister “Brothers like some meat on those bones!” And despite the overindexing of those particular disorders among models, don’t get it twisted: not all models starve themselves, just as not all heavier women overeat.
I have a dear friend, Shana, who eats healthy, hearty and balanced meals, and yet is a natural size 0. I watched her scrutinize herself for years for not being “thick enough” before making peace with her shape. Meanwhile, I eat like a damn bird, and I’m a solid size 12. So no, we don’t need to “feed the skinny girls”, or for that matter take away a plate the plus-sized ones. What we need to do is let them live and support our women in every shape or size that we come in.
Skinny shaming is corny. “Real women” are not just the ones with curves; all of us are real women and all of us deserve to be respected. So again, I shout out the stunning girls who slayed LaQuan Smith’s catwalk and hope that those of you who were less than kind when viewing that picture will think twice before saying something nasty about a woman’s body again.