The following word is an insult that people regularly mistake as a compliment: Skinny.
I despise being called skinny. As in, “Wow, Tracy, you are just so skinny!” I hate it. I understand that being thin is the new it-girl look, but I want absolutely no part in perpetuating that belief.
If anyone is to blame, it’s my parents. Genetics made me “skinny” and despite my greatest efforts, I cannot seem to escape that label. I have tried everything. From chicken wings to chocolate cake, it seems no food is powerful enough to make people stop calling me skinny. Or tiny. Or any of the other “compliment” terms they use.
I guess I have more than my stellar genes to blame. I like to workout and eat healthy most days. I do not like to do these things for the sake of my metabolism and waist line. I like to do these things because they make me feel good.
Let me repeat: I do not workout or eat my veggies to impress you. I do it for me. I do it for the endorphins, which relieve the stress of being alive. I do it for the increased energy, which helps me survive long days. I do it for myself, which means I get to have me-time with no intruding voices.
Stop doing harm to women by using “skinny” as a compliment. Try “healthy” or “beautiful” or “intelligent” or “generous” or “loving” or “kind”. Every woman is beautiful, so do not disservice us with words about our size. Do not make those words mean beautiful.
Women are powerful. We have the ability to influence what young girls perceive as attractive. If we stand together, society cannot tear us down. So the next time someone calls you “skinny”, do not smile and thank them and tell them about your juice diet. Do not let them label you with a word that describes your shape. You deserve more. We all do.
Pick your compliments with care. Use them to build each other up, not to create painful constructs of what the female body should be. I challenge everyone to use a compliment today that goes beneath the skin and looks at the soul, the character, the drive of the person, not the weight, width, or mass.
We don’t have to let the media tell use how to look. We can have a positive effect on the body image of others. It starts with you and me, but we can change the world.