The opinions in this article are the author’s own.
After the videos for “Anaconda” and “All About That Bass” came out, a lot of heavy discussion began about fat-shaming and skinny-shaming; one article in particular drove me to write something of my own. What caused this is that both songs used the phrase “skinny bitches,” and you know who that pissed off? Skinny bitches.
If we’re going to get technical, Nicki Minaj tells the skinny bitches to get out of the club, and Meghan Trainor calls out skinny bitches, but then quickly retracts her words (somewhat) by saying that she knows that they think they’re fat, too. Everyone is up in arms about it, and to make a huge deal of these lyrics only shines more light on to the skinny-shaming vs. fat-shaming debate.
Let’s start at the beginning: why do girls worry about their body image? To generalize it: boys. And let’s generalize why boys care: sex. These songs that are about being bigger and having “something he can grab” aren’t meant to affirm that girls are meant for the male gaze, but rather to explain to “bigger” girls that boys’ anacondas DO want some, after all.
Now, let’s address “skinny-shaming.” I am going to start off by saying that I think shaming anyone about any quality is wrong and that we should all love each other. There shouldn’t be a definitive image that comes to mind when we are trying to explain “beauty.” Having said that….
Skinny-shaming, although it is hurtful, is not on par or even close to being equal to fat-shaming. Why? Because our society grants privileges to those who are not in the marginalized group (thin privilege). There is hierarchal power that goes along with fat and skinny shaming. Yes, Nicki and Meghan called you a skinny bitch, but we live in a society that is constantly condemning our bigger ladies. There are undeniable benefits to being thin, such as the clothing store always having your size or the assumption that you’re fit and active. And let’s not even get into how “plus-sized models” are actually a size 8 (My size!! And you can wrap your arms all the way around me!) or how you’ll hear that wonderful “She’s fat but really sweet!” or “He has a nice face…” when describing those of a bigger size.
Fat-shaming is everywhere. Skinny-shaming happens every so often and gets blown out of proportion, whereas we tend to leave fat-shaming unacknowledged and in the dark. Yes, as I said before, skinny-shaming sucks and can be very hurtful (being told to eat a burger or someone saying you’re TOO thin), but it really is not the same as (or even the reverse of) fat-shaming.
People who skinny shame are not being oppressive in the way that fat-shaming oppresses. There is a difference between an individual case of prejudice and systematic, structural, institutionalized oppression. Nicki and Meghan are not insulting you personally, but rather trying to attack the system of oppression that over-idealizes and over-sexualizes being a size 2. It is completely understood that you (if you fit into the category of ‘skinny bitch’) might also struggle with accepting your body, but your body type is not consistently stigmatized. Your thin figure is not considered to be an epidemic and is not fetishized if someone admits to being sexually attracted to your figure.
Until we completely dissolve the idea of fat-shaming, there will be no (completely) kind words for either a “fat” or “skinny” person. But until then, remember: institutionalized oppression is an undeniable constant. Telling skinny bitches to get out of the club is not.
In case you haven’t seen the videos to these ‘controversial’ songs, they’re down below for your viewing pleasure.
While you’re here…