There are so many reasons we come up with to resent each other - She does feminism differently to me, she’s thinner than me, she’s fatter than me, she’s physically disabled, she’s not as educated, she’s over educated, she likes things I don’t like, she’s got a penis, she doesn’t earn any money, she earns too much money. Legitimate criticism is one thing - if someone says or does something hurtful to other people, then I firmly believe they should be called out on it. But what I'm talking about is the vitriolic little lies we have buried in our heads, disguised as truth. There are a million ways we find to tear each other apart, and I could write an entire book about it if I tried to cover them all. But what I want to talk about specifically today is the growing gulf between those of us on either end of the weight scale.
|Not an acceptable joke|
|Also not an acceptable joke|
|Panel from a fantastic comic about body image from Thumbcramps|
So what do we do about it? All this philosophising and grandstanding is all very well, but how do women on both ends of the weight spectrum start working together to short circuit this self esteem destroying cycle? I crowd sourced a bunch of input from various people, as well as my own thoughts, as to what both sides can do for the other.
Thin women - don't talk about how lazy fat people are, and tell your fat friends how nice it must be to "eat whatever you want." Don't tell them how lucky they are to have a partner who "doesn't mind" their shape. There is no way for them not to take this personally. Of course, you should keep in mind that plenty of your friends that you don't consider fat WOULD consider themselves fat, so maybe consider not saying things like this out loud at all. Fat women - don't call thin people "skinny bitches" and tell them to eat a sandwich. "You're so skinny, I hate you" is not a funny, or appropriate joke to make to thin friends. There is no way for them not to take this personally. Again, keep in mind you might have friends that YOU don't think are too thin, who are convinced they are, so maybe just don't say any of these things out loud either. The way you view women on the other side of the weight spectrum to yourself won't change overnight - it wouldn't be reasonable to expect or demand that of anyone. But by taking a second to think about how the things you say effect other people, you can start making some headway.
|A timely reminder from Things We Forget|
|A kick ass message I DO agree with, in a button by Definatalie|
And finally, let's talk clothes.Thin women - don't take it personally if your fat friends don't want to go clothes shopping with you. We love you and all, but going into store after store and finding nothing for you is just depressing. And please don't lecture us about ethical clothing choices - it's not that we don't care about workers rights, or that we don't feel sympathy for factory workers disabled or killed in poor working conditions. We do, we really do. But you have to understand we have SO FEW CHOICES. Trying to find things we like, that fit, that we can afford can be extraordinarily difficult and if you add in that it has to be ethically sourced as well, some of us would be walking around in one pair of pants year round. Some of us wouldn't even be able to find that. While there are more options available in plus sizes than there used to be, there still aren't nearly as many as in straight sizes. And, I gotta tell you, a lot of plus sized clothing is just AWFUL. A huge percentage of our choices consist of shapeless sacks of polyester covered in hideous giant flowers that costs a fortune. This is why, sometimes, we don't want to go clothes shopping with thin girls.
|Online shopping is my Achilles Heel|
And to the fat women - if going clothes shopping with your thin friends depresses you, quit doing it. Don't go along and then sulk yourself into a furious rage. Do something else instead. Go have coffee with them, go rollerblading, whatever. Go see a kick ass movie, laugh your asses off, then go home and fill your cart up at Domino Dollhouse. If you DO go shopping with them, keep in mind that just because the majority of clothes you see will fit your thin friends, this doesn't mean they have limitless options. If a thin woman doesn't have a lot of boob, a huge number of shirts and dresses are simply impractical. If a thin woman has too much boob, just as many shirts and dresses are out. If a thin woman also happens to be trans, there's every chance she will have an absolute nightmare trying to find a dress that will fit both her shoulders and her waist - that is if the shop assistants will even let them try things on. And even if a thin woman does find an outfit that fits the amount of boob and shoulders they happen to have in proportion to the rest of them, there's every chance it will be too clingy for their taste. My mum, for example, is tiny and has taken to shopping in the children's section to find clothes small enough for her frame, that are modest enough for her taste.
|This doesn't happen because your body is wrong, it's because the |
shirt is designed poorly.
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic. Maybe this sort of change just isn't possible given the weight of messages telling us to hate each other, and to hate ourselves. But I am trying to give it a go, and I hope you will too.