Let’s get something straight. Telling an ultra-thin woman to eat a cheeseburger is no different than telling an overweight one to find a treadmill.
Giuliana Rancic is being criticized, again, for being too skinny. The comments don’t fall short of telling her she looks unhealthy, that she should really go eat a cheeseburger.
While more women are standing up for their bodies at every curve, wrinkle and roll — and that is a beautiful thing — it doesn’t give anyone the right to attack a woman for not having enough rolls. It’s as if right when it was cool to be proud of our weight (a trend I fully condone), it somehow became cool to poke fun at being too skinny (a trend that I don’t).
Our society’s new-found confidence in not looking like every magazine model does not suddenly make it OK to shame anyone who represents this group of women. And cheeseburgers will not solve any issues you think these women have.
I repeat, “… you think these women have.”
Your body weight is your choice and every other woman has that same right. While we may have freedom of speech to express opinions about how ugly, fat or skinny someone is… why are we so quick to tear people down?
Yes, Giuliana is thin. But she also might love the way she looks. Her doctor may think she is perfectly healthy. And if she’s not, well, throwing cheeseburgers in her face certainly is not the answer.
Brynn Andre, body image expert and certified life coach, who battled an eating disorder for 10 years before she started to coach other girls, can attest to how dangerous comments like this are.
“Every woman I coach can recall the smallest insult they ever received on their body, like a bullet that’s lodged inside her heart. One mean-spirited remark could be the spark to cause an eating disorder; words about a woman’s body can be that powerful.”
So, tell a woman to eat a cheeseburger. Tell her that she is way too skinny. Tell her there is obviously something wrong with her. But you’re probably doing one of two things: fueling her eating disorder or giving her one.
When you suffer from an eating disorder, what you ate that day drives everything you do and what starts with a simple desire to look thinner (something that’s really pretty common) becomes an addiction to food and everything it represents. It’s an obsession with food that is only increased by our society’s obsession to attack what a woman looks like, whether “fat” or “skinny.”
As Andre says, “Struggling with emotional eating and body shame is an emotional drain. It robs you of the ability to be fully present in your life because you’re continually worrying about how much or how little you’ve eaten, how fat or thin you look that day and whether you’ve worked out enough.”
And before you ask, “If it’s so miserable, why don’t they just stop caring what people think?” Let’s just remember a little thing called empathy. Telling an overweight person to “just exercise” doesn’t magically make them do it and telling a woman with an eating disorder to stop caring will not suddenly make years of emotional shame go away.
If you’ve ever personally known anyone who suffered from an eating disorder, you know very well that all the positive comments in the world don’t change their mind. You can say, “You’re crazy, you look beautiful. Forget them.” But all they hear, is “I’m not good enough.”
Leora Fulvio, psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues, explains, “It doesn’t matter what they look like, they feel not good enough because pretty much all women and their bodies are metaphorical piñatas. Anyone who puts themselves out there is up for criticism because we have created a society that tells us that it is OK.”
And thus so many women learn to hate their bodies before you can blink twice.
“Having an abusive relationship with yourself is impossible. So you have to get out into the world,” Fulvio continues, “Take it slowly, step-by-step. Do little things that challenge you… little steps to help you reintegrate into the world.”
So, why are we set on creating a world in which no one is comfortable being themselves? The chatter is always about being too skinny or too fat, what is so-called normal, when all we really need to do is just take a deep breath and start supporting each other a little more. We’re all each other have.
If you’re worried about a friend, suggest Andre’s free guide to food freedom. And you can get more advice from Leora here.