Skinny the New Fat?


Photography by Athena Quddus, Copy Editor

“Whatever way you look, you are fine. You don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful,” said Andrea Olive, Cam High senior.

In an American society in which the term ‘fat’ has received a negative connotation, the same is now true of that word’s antonym: ‘skinny.’

As national media places increasing emphasis on body confidence, many people whom adolescents look to for guidance are taking things too far. Celebrities and pop culture artists are shaming those who are considered healthy; turning something that should spread a positive message to today’s youth into one that makes them self-conscious.

For example, several best-selling songs such as “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, currently ranked as #2 on Billboard’s Top 100 Hits, feature lyrics which degrade many who are simply not portly, crudely proclaiming that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

In her latest hit “Anaconda“, the famous rapper Nicky Minaj belittles thin girls through lines such as “he won’t like em [girls] boney” and “[…] I ain’t missing no meals,” garnering almost 300 million views on her music video alone.

Other artists forgo any attempts to mask the meaning behind their music, as shown in the lyrics of U2’s 2007 song, “Big Girls Are Best.”

“A lot of shows and stuff nowadays make girls feel like they should have a specific body type,” said Katie Stubblefield, Cam High freshman.

This is especially troubling because adolescence is the age where one is the most impressionable. Many of these artists fail to realize that in the process of popularizing their music they are debasing countless numbers of young people for being healthy.

“A lot of teens listen to the lyrics of these songs and make them their life philosophy, which obviously leads to problems,” said Kabeer Majhu, sophomore at Oak Park High School. “[Artists] are just expressing their opinions.”

Truth be told, there is never going to be a way to satisfy the “norm” that society praises, nor is it necessarily even worth aspiring towards. Shaming people for being too fat, too skinny, too curvy, or too anything is not okay.

“Whatever way you look, you are fine. You don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful,” said Andrea Olive, Cam High senior. “If anyone is fat or skinny, nobody else should care.”

Furthermore, the over-glorification of “curvier” people over slimmer girls glosses over America’s expanding obesity epidemic.

Obesity is the leading major health crisis in America, with over one-third of the nation categorized as obese, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Kids are getting health problems at a younger age,” said Mr. Ronald Wilson, health teacher. “They aren’t eating [healthily].”

Fixing the problem isn’t a matter of shaming those that are overweight, it’s instead a matter of informing them of the major health risks they have to deal with. Many wrongfully view the label “overweight” as a derogatory term, while in reality, being overweight may suggest one is at risk for developing serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and a myriad of other illnesses.

While “fat-shaming” remains a problem, for America’s present state, “skinny-shaming” is even more prevalent, perhaps due to skinnier people simply being out-numbered by the “curvier” populace. About 24 million Americans are currently suffering from a variety of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, compared to thrice the amount of obese adults, who number over 78.6 million in America today.

According to statistics taken by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease, a major effect of obesity, is the leading cause of death in America.

“Obesity is deeply affecting our nation because it’s bringing down our physical fitness levels for younger people,” said Majhu. “There’s more risk of heart attacks, strokes, and generally being in a bad state.”

It seems the more aware America becomes of anorexia and the dangers of eating disorders, the more people in society feel the need to shame skinny people as a way to combat them. However, justifying being overweight is even more destructive.

Role models should put more accentuation on the importance of being healthy rather than conforming to a specific body type. While there is no strict definition for a perfectly healthy body shape, there are multiple definitions for ways to treat one’s body well.

“It would be nice to have emphasis put on being healthy. The real issue is that [students] aren’t eating healthily throughout the day, but, in the end, people are going to do what they want to do,” said health teacher Mrs. Adrienne Brasted. “[We can help decrease obesity levels] by teaching about [obesity], raising awareness, and educating people. Try to be good a role model.”