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Skinny vs Fat

Have another Donut

by Laurelle Williams / 24.01.2011

Why is it okay to tell skinny people they’re skinny in public? “Oh you’re so skinny! How do you do it?” But not cool to say as much to overweight people? “Oh you’re so fat! How do you do it?”

I’m one of the ‘skinny’ people. There I admit it. I love it. I’m happy to be skinny. But I find it offensive when someone reduces me to my body. Hello I have a brain up here! Even the word ‘skinny’ kind of irks. It’s the negative spin of thin. Suggesting unhealthiness. Sickly thin like a Bronte sister. Language is the conveyor of differences. We need to guard against it. Why not use “slim” or “slender”? Both lovely F.Scott Fitzgerald type terms. Elevating and attractive.

Then there’s the assumption that we “skinny” folk (increasingly threatened with extinction before the expensive and destructive epidemic of obesity, an epidemic that has seen social scientists coin the term “globesity”) either starve ourselves or blow chunks in the bathroom after dessert. Hello it’s not rocket science! Some of us are born like this okay. It’s in the genes. It isn’t some new age miracle or an indictment of your own body shape or choices. And it has to be said: as a general rule, eat less and exercise more. (I know I sound like an obnoxious slender person now, but it’s true).

Society has made women (and increasingly men) obsessed with weight. The global diet industry is bigger than gaming. It’s massive. An ongoing international obsession. It’s an obsession that regularly spills over into my everyday life. Women are forever grilling me over my body shape. And it’s not just overweight women. Women of all shapes and sizes try to get to the bottom of my slimness.
Handling these enquiries takes tact and skill. You have to evaluate whether the woman is sincere or just being jealous and envious.

Jealousy: “You’re so skinny! Shame. Do you starve yourself?”
Said casually but poisonous with an evil undertone.
My response, “No, I am just lucky. I’m naturally thin.”

Admiration: “You have a great body, so slim!”
She’s genuine. A conversation on gym routines and calories ensues. Friendship blooms.

Even fellow ‘skinny’ girls sometimes ask me how to stay thin! WTF? These are the girls for whom skinny enough is not an option. They may even be the source of all the trouble. They give us bad reputations. That kind of superficial fixation can be deadly. Starvation and laxatives or some other insane way of staying thin is in their short future. Death by magazines. Death by fashion.

So next time you’re out and about to cut the skinny girl at the party down to size – be careful. She just might fire back (after you’ve asked the perennial skinny question), “How do you stay so chunky?”

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  1. tobias funke says:

    Whilst well intentioned (can you taste my condescension), I don’t think this article is doing justice to the subject. A few comments.

    Firstly, this whole thing is all about power. Skinny vs. Fat, where the fat are the marginalised (not in terms of numbers, but treatment) and the skinny rule. The reason people say ‘skinny’ instead of ‘slim or slender’, is the same reason people say ‘fat’, instead of ‘curvy or (shit, I don’t know) well contoured’. But the reason it’s okay to say ‘skinny’, is because, in terms of the way prestige is distributed by Hollywood, skinny is up top, and fat is way down bottom. Calling someone ‘skinny’, is a feeble attempt to redress the balance. Think of this parallel – fat women can call themselves, “real women”, a terrible insult to femininity if e’er there was one, and get away with it. No-one takes it seriously. Why? Because it’s the cry of those without cachet. Let thin women proclaim they’re the real women, and goddamnit, watch that fat bastards get crazy.

    Secondly, this ‘in the genes’ thing is total and utter bullshit. Fat folk need to start taking responsibilities for themselves and stop blaming physiology. Two things here. First, as Ricky Gervais once said, “It’s not glandular, it’ s greed.” And secondly, think about it this way. If your body was designed in such a way that you have some degenerative disease that means you can’t eat (let’s say for example) dairy. That means you have to make a physical adjustment in your life to cope with the differences of your body. You can’t be the same. By the same token, if you happen to have a poor metabolism or whatever (and very few of the fat arses on this planet can actually claim this legitimately), it means you just have to work harder to stay fit. Deal. People’s bodies are all different and saddle them with all sorts of problem – they adapt. So put down the fucking Doritos and take a jog.

    And as to this whole thing of taking offence when someone asks you why you’re so skinny – just get over it. Unless you want to tie in that question with some broader pernicious ideological theme, which you haven’t done here (except to say people think they starve themselves), it’s not such an offensive question. 🙂

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  2. dr phil says:

    I used to hold a similar view to Tobias a while ago, but several documentaries on the subjects of obesity and the food industry have prompted a rethink. It has been demographically proven that this current generation’s rate of obesity is way above that of our forebears, so metabolism etc is not a big issue. The role that fast-food and poor eating habits have played has been highly significant.

    The way that the food industry has been developed and structured also has a lot to do with this. If you are poor it is far more affordable to buy highly processed, mass-produced products which are high-sugar and high-starch in nature than more natural foodstuffs with higher protein, vitamins and roughage. My eyes were opened to this in a documentary where a lower income overweight American family wanted to buy broccoli from a supermarket and ended up going to Mac-D’s ‘cos it was the only thing that they could afford.

    the planet has become so over-populated and commercialised, to the point that only the wealthy will be able to eat helathy food and drink clean water in future 🙁

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  3. lazyboy says:

    isnt Roger anorexic?

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  4. fatty says:

    i have a strong hatred for this chick.

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  5. Lizzy says:

    Dr Phill is right. Also, industrialisation and a number of other factors have given certain societies an advantage over others in terms of adaption to processed foods and alcohol. this is why fat people in some places are actually malnourished, its just a different manifestation than bones sticking out. also why some societies have no resistence to alcohol and the social problems that accompany it. you are one of the lucky ones, part genetics, part lifestyle, have given you the ‘ideal’ body type, and you can eat refined foods, and have some drinks with few consequences.

    cost is a big issue too. phutu fills you up for a long time for cheap. (but its refined). Low gi foods are hardly government subsidised.

    and how old are you, Laurelle? younger than 25 i’d assume. any kids?

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  6. Blahmbed says:

    “the planet has become so over-populated and commercialised, to the point that only the wealthy will be able to eat helathy food and drink clean water in future”

    Yes, throw in thimerosal, fluoride, excito-toxins and various other neat shit cooked up by our corporate owners and voila – it is called eugenics. The sad thing is that American family was so dumbed down that they didn’t realise they could grow vegetables in a barrel of earth at pennies to the pound.

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  7. Dan says:

    @tobias funke

    While agree that to a certain extent some people just have to get a grip and as you say “taking responsibilities for themselves and stop blaming physiology” I do have to point out that there are indeed some people out there who are ‘just born that way’ I refer you to an excellent little BBC documentary – http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/why-are-thin-people-not-fat/

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  8. ling-ling says:

    I have read this article over and over again, and each time I get the same response. “Shame”, she has to deal with “skinny” as a lable, very difficult, might as well kill yourself. No substance.

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  9. Tim says:

    Being Skinny is a bourgeois problem… and don’t worry I do see the irony. Serious, get some real issues or stop writing. Check out Robs article… thats substance.

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  10. katzenjammer says:

    Let’s tie this in to reality, shall we? I guess the most important question now is whether Roger Young’s is glandular or greed? Young?

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  11. Jono says:

    Fat is a state of mind, I eat what I want then I just use the force to shed unwanted poundage. So like if I can do it then anyone can.

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  12. damndemons says:

    she used ‘WTF’ in the article.

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  13. Roger Young says:

    I kicked a ten year heroin habit. I was down to 68kgs. I was practically about to snap. I came off my meds and discovered the insecurities were still there. Then I started comfort eating, yeah, I got issues. Nearly two years later and at 115kgs, I realised that shit had got out of hand, and I started trying to slim down. Nothing really happened. Then recently I discovered that my thyroid and lymph nodes are fucked from all the poison that is still in my system from the meds and the smack. So I started treatments and light yoga and guess what, it’s coming down finally. So yeah thanks for the “concern” because as much as it is amusing being the fat guy, i’d prefer to be more agile when I fuck, your sister.

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  14. katzenjammer says:

    To be honest, I’d also prefer you to be more agile when you fuck my sister. She said the last couple of times was like being a sumo wrestler’s apprentice for one and a half minutes. Come on, the girl deserves a good shag. Do ‘er justice.

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  15. Roger Young says:

    I’m trying man, I’m trying. Real weight loss takes motivation. Maybe you should dangle her on a stick for a bit before you throw her into my cage.

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  16. fobias tunke says:

    Reality journalism pitch for Mahala article: Roger Young gets slim. A harrowing gonzo style account of driving straight past the 24/7 McDonalds in Observatory, jogging one half-stretch of the common and collapsing, eating ‘organic’ foods and salads, and most importantly, cutting out the ‘feel sorry for me I had a smack addiction’ melancholy.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    OK so this article is about a skinny/slim/slender girl preferring to be called “slim or slender” as opposed to “skinny”. Okay then… What about a nice big oily carton box of deep-fried shut the fuck up?

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  18. fobias tunke says:

    The author doesn’t seem to realise that ‘skinny’, ‘slim’ and ‘slender’ don’t all mean the same thing, and they have value judgements encoded into them. But I agree with anonymous. This piece belongs in Cosmopolitan, where it’d be licked up by vacuous, uncritical bitchmachines.

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  19. A joke I heard.. says:

    “Do your bit for the environment: lose some weight”

    This might be kind of funny in a dark kind of way – but there is truth.

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  20. Roger Young says:


    Quick update: If i wanted people to feel sorry for me, I’d probably still be doing smack.

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  21. sugar lips says:

    The point is it is considered rude to tell a fat person they fat so it shoulb be considered rude to tell a skinny person they skinny!!


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