A popular pro-ana — excuse me, "pro-skinny" — site called SkinnyGossip is being roundly criticized for writing a hate-post directed at noted GQ covergirl, YouTube dance enthusiast, and swimsuit model Kate Upton. Alongside some semi-unflattering pictures of Upton modeling in a Beach Bunny show that took place at Miami swimwear week last July, the anonymous blogger wrote that Upton "lumbered" down the runway "like there's a buffet at the end of it." She also called Upton "well-marbled" and her body "pornographic." Say what?
The blogger added, disingenously:
Now, there's nothing wrong with an average girl like Kate being confident. She's pretty, she bangs down the runway like she owns it, and I totally commend her for her bravery.
Then the post — which you can see screencapped in full at right, in case the intermittently offline site gets taken down again — got even nastier:
Huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition — she looks like a squishy brick. Is this what American women are "striving" for now? The lazy, lardy look? Have we really gotten so fat in this country that Kate is the best we can aim for? Sorry, but: eww!
Have we gotten so riven by self-hatred in this country that even Kate Upton's body can still be subjected to this nastiest and most personal of public critiques? Upton is basically the epitome of curvy, blonde beauty as it's valued in the U.S. today. Hers is a look that ticks every box. She has the long, golden hair, the huge breasts, the tiny waist, the long legs, the tanned skin, and the gorgeous face that we women are taught — by virtually every beer ad and billboard and movie poster — that men want. She's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition, she's been in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, she's been the face of Guess and she has over seven million views on YouTube. Her body is "perfect" — by every conventional standard. If Kate fucking Upton's thighs are not immune from public dissection, then who is?
The truth is, none of us are. As long as we live in a culture that tells women that being admired and desired for the way we look is merely the normal condition of womanhood, something fundamental to our sex, it will be considered acceptable to evaluate women for their decorative value. As long as it's considered acceptable to pass public judgment on women's bodies, often negatively — to snark on and condemn and make fun of things that are truly beyond an individual's control — in public, then it's open season on all of our bodies. As long as women are in competition with one another to have the "best" body, we all lose. As long as there persists a single, narrow beauty ideal we are all instructed to live up to, none of us will live up to it. This game is rigged. There will always be some critic who can tell us where we are found lacking.
The blog is written by someone who purports to be a former editorial and print model now working in the fashion industry. It is a repository of some pretty staggering, and truly sad, body-hate masquerading as a supportive community for a self-described marginalized group — slim women. ("As a thin person, I was also annoyed by our double-standards around weight," writes the blogger in a post that touches on why she started SkinnyGossip. "For example, people think nothing of telling a thin woman — to their face, in front of an entire group of people — how skinny they are and even to suggest what they should eat. But I've never seen the reverse happen to an overweight woman." That sound you just heard was every overweight person who gets regularly concern-trolled by strangers [[headdesk]]-ing en masse.) There is such a prejudice against thin people, writes the blogger, that:
It also seems thin is only OK if it's an accident. We hear thin celebrities say "damn, I eat like a horse and I just can't gain weight!" This is a lie and one they feel they must tell, because honesty ("I work hard for this body!") is for some reason socially unpalatable.
The thing is, that part's true. The "perfect" female body is supposed to be natural — the product of unperspiring excellence. That's also a strong argument for less snarking and public policing of women's bodies, especially through the media. Not more.
SkinnyGossip — where the community includes people in recover for eating disorders, but, the blogger who runs it says, "self-harming" behavior and encouragement of same is not tolerated — also had until this week a "Starving Tip Of The Day!" section (all the posts have been deleted, but many are still cached by Google for the time being). The numbered tips include this advice on "thinspo":
Thinspiration is key to skinny success. Keep a thinspiration notebook and thinspo pictures everywhere you can.
"Competition," writes the blogger in tip number 118, "is such a great motivator!"
Compete with yourself; test your willpower by making a delicious meal for your boyfriend. Serve it to him and everything — see if you can eat none of it!
While many of the "Tips" will be familiar to anyone whose eating has ever been disordered — anorexic old wives' tales like "coffee is an appetite suppressant," "turn down your thermostat to burn more calories," and other ramblings of not-quite-healthy minds — others just teach straight-up self-hate:
Pay close attention to other girl's bodies. Pick them apart — try to find faults even with the best bodies. Then apply these high standards to yourself.
Number 127 is:
Think of your stomach pains in a whole new light. Your stomach doesn't hurt because you are hungry, that burning feeling is fat melting off of you.
The notion that SkinnyGossip is a pro-anorexia site, says the blogger, "is absolutely false."
The site caught the attention of Reddit last week, and was posted to r/WTF last week with the note, "Someone stop this." (It turns out when you criticize Kate Upton, nerd boys get mad!) The thread quickly became popular — and despite Reddit's often bro-y culture, many of the comments are very empathetic. "Did anyone click the 'starving tip of the day' button on the site?" asked one. "I read a few and was like 'dafuq did I just read?'" Another mused:
My girlfriend suffers from the brainwashing from women like her. She is ina [sic] a perfect BMI range and looks completely sexy how she is, but is always picking her body apart and staring at pictures of runway models wanting to look like them. It fills me with so much rage that if the woman who wrote this article was in front of me I would seriously consider socking her in the face.
(Let's all note in passing that it's not okay to threaten to punch a woman in the face as punishment for expressing an opinion, even an opinion as hurtful as that espoused by the blogger behind SkinnyGossip.)
My feeling is this: your body is where you live. You might as well do your best to get comfy in it.