A little while ago, a friend/coworker and I were talking about Emma Stone. While looking at a photo of the actress from this year's Oscars, we both started gushing about how much we loved her and how great she looked. But then, my friend went on to point out Stone's protruding rib cage (which was clearly visible thanks to her backless dress and hunched position). She seemed offended at the sight of Stone's bones, maybe even a little grossed out.
My automatic response was to jump to Stone's defense.
"She's always been thin!" I said.
"But not that thin," she responded.
After discussing Stone's body for a few more minutes our conversation died and we went back to our respective desks.
As I sat there, about to get started on my next task, I reflected on our conversation.
The next day, that same coworker sent me a totally unexpected message apologizing for her comments regarding Stone.
She said, "I was being judgmental and it wasn't cool of me. I think with my experience with friends with eating disorders, super-thin starlets give me the shivers sometimes, but it's not fair of me to assume that's what's happening with her."
She continued, "I wouldn't have said the same thing about an actress who had gained some weight."
Her response validated the overflowing number thoughts running through my mind. It also made me think a whole lot more.
You see, like Emma Stone, I'm skinny. Always have been. My ribs show through my skin, too. So do my collar bones, and sometimes even my sternum. But you know what? I'm also healthy.
Now, before I go on, I just want to note that I know one's size and one's health are not always correlated. Sometimes, they are (read: obesity, eating disorders), but contrary to popular belief, just because someone looks a certain way, it doesn't mean they're healthy/unhealthy.
Growing up, I was the talk of every family dinner. In an Italian household, being super thin just means you need more food in your stomach (at least, according to any Nonna or Nonno).
"Mangia! Mangia!," they'd say! "You're too skinny! You need to put some meat on those bones!"
And so I learned to eat. And eat. And eat some more. But still, I remained skinny. And for my whole life, everyone made sure I knew it. I was given a whole slew of nicknames -- bones, bonesy, skinny minnie, and even Olive Oyl -- which just further cemented the fact in my head. Still to this day, my grandparents make comments about my size.
I always just let the comments go, in one ear out the other. Little did I know they'd have a serious impact. I grew up feeling lucky to be thin. Lucky that I wasn't "fat." Lucky that I had the same body type as the girls I looked at in my teen magazines.
But those thoughts are so toxic. I only felt lucky because society told me that being thin was a good thing and being large was a bad thing. But what if the tables were turned? What if having a voluptuous size 14 body was seen as the holy grail of beauty, and my thin, lanky body type was seen as ugly and unhealthy? Would I feel lucky then?
Now, before you start brushing me off, thinking I'm just here feeling sorry for myself, hear me out.
I know that according to society, my body fits the ideal. But I also know that doesn't make me better than anyone else. It doesn't make me immune to criticism, either. Being called too skinny, is just as hurtful as being called too big.
And don't even get me started on all this "real body" talk -- why is it that "real bodies," at least according to the media, are only bodies with curves (read: Candice Huffine, Ashley Graham)? Are straight-size models not real people? With real flesh and bones? They may not have large boobs and butts, but as far as I'm concerned, they have real, physical bodies.
But I digress.
This topic is one I could talk about for days on end. I've always felt that I couldn't add my two cents for fear that I'd just come off as a whining, pretentious, and ungrateful bitch. And I might seem that way to some, but just know that all I'm trying to argue for is body acceptance. (For the record, I am not trying to promote eating disorders or unhealthy lifestyles, either.) Being thin isn't lucky, it just is. The same goes for being plus-size -- it's not lucky, or unlucky, it just is.
The bodies we're born with are the bodies we should love. Aspiring to something else will only make us feel horrible about ourselves, and criticizing others isn't going to help.
We need to stop jumping to conclusions. We need to stop judging. We need to stop inserting our opinions about others' bodies.
Instead, let's just all agree that our bodies are our own. They're real, and they're beautiful.
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