The Pressure To Be Skinny: Women Do The Most Damage

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pressure to be skinny
It's women — not men — who perpetuate an unattainably skinny body image ideal.

I recently received a call from a friend. She said, "You’ll never believe the horrible thing my boyfriend just said." I prepared myself for the worst and was already mad at him before she even opened her mouth. "He said he likes my body ... because it's 'healthy!' Healthy?! He said it's a compliment, but do you think he's calling me fat?"

I assured her that yes, he absolutely meant it as a compliment. Then I began to wonder if her reaction would have been different had he called her "skinny" instead. Like most women, myself included, she probably would have been ecstatic and triumphant. Women want to be skinny.

When did "healthy" take a backseat to "as skinny as humanly possible?" Why are women so terrified of the notion of being anything other than thin? And, most importantly, if the men in our lives call us "healthy," why do we hear "fat"? My friend's boyfriend said he liked her body; why didn't she believe him?

From websites devoted to fat-shaming Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera and Adele to magazine covers urging us to "lose those last five pounds" to "thinspiration" Pinterest boards, it’s safe to say there's a pervasive message out there: women must be skinny in order to be beautiful.

The pressure takes it toll. It leads to women feeling like they're never enough — hot enough, thin enough, sexy enough — for a guy. But here's the ironic thing: it's not men who are doing the majority of the name calling and fat shaming. It's definitely not men who most recently dissected every inch of gorgeous, curvy Sports Illsutrated swimsuit model Kate Upton's body on the internet, circling her flaws in red and calling her a cow. And it's not men running "fitspiration" websites that advocate month long juice fasts. Women are consistently more critical of other women than men are to women. Why are we so hard on one another? Keeping reading...

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