'Try being skinny for a year and you'll understand how hard it is': Young woman slammed for candid essay


Leslie Magallanes (Photo: Facebook)

Leslie Magallanes is tired of people commenting on her body. Like many others who have publicly posted about body positivity, she has had strangers as well as people close to her openly talk about how much she eats, and she often has trouble finding clothing that fits her properly. She doesn’t feel like her natural body conforms to what society calls beautiful. The difference between Magallanes and many “bopo” bloggers out there is that she feels criticized because she is skinny.

“We don’t have it easy,” Magallanes wrote in a post on Facebook that went viral and has been picked up on the website Love What Matters. Though she is grateful to be able to eat whatever she wants, she laments, “Being called ‘anorexic,’ people telling you that ‘you need to eat more cause you need meat on your bones,’ ‘do your parents feed you?’ ‘you look hungry,’ people CONSTANTLY measuring your wrist with their hand calling you skinny like you don’t know it already, people asking you where is your butt or where is the rest of your chest.”

Magallanes says she tries to find clothing that won’t make her look “like a walking stick with clown feet,” but she still gets comments in public. She says she understands that “thick” girls get a lot of negative commentary about their bodies, but wishes they wouldn’t in turn criticize women like her.

“But at the end of the day no matter if your skinny, thick, chubby, fat, or short we all still have beautiful bodies,” she concludes.

The kind of commentary Magallanes has received doesn’t surprise Karen Tenreiro, a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders.

“People would feel more open to saying something negative to her because it wouldn’t be perceived as insensitive,” Tenreiro tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Somebody grabbing her arm and saying, ‘What are you eating?’ or ‘Why aren’t you eating?’ That would be judgmental. That would be assuming something before you asked more questions.”

As you might expect if you’ve been anywhere near social media, Magallanes has received mixed responses to her post. Many identified with her complaint.

“For the longest time I felt less of a woman for being smaller and not having a fat a** etc, mostly because it’s all over that bigger women are perfect, curvy woman are more beautiful, and don’t say it’s not cause IT IS!” Emily Nicole Hart commented on Facebook. “In the process of making bigger women feel confident, they made skinny girls feel completely disgusting and less of a woman. This post is 100% how skinny girls feel about the constant body shaming towards them.”

“I was teased all through school about being skinny, being told boys don’t like skinny girls, being told I looked unhealthy,” @atxbrockwell wrote on Instagram. “So, yeah, being skinny and being teased for it can leave lasting marks on a person.”

Some appreciated that this was about the fact that all kinds of people feel the effects of commentary on their bodies.

“Whether you’re too big or too small, everyone has these struggles. Just change a few of the insults,” wrote Kyrstie Lyn Gosselin Morrison on Facebook.

But a good chunk of readers took offense at the notion that it’s just as hard to be thin as it is to be fat. “Cry me a river,” more than one commenter said.

“Try being at a weight where people automatically think you are lazy, smell bad, dumb, unworthy, or a punchline,” @butnotquite wrote on Instagram. “The world caters to slim people. Seats on planes, buses, and other forms of public transportation — and even movie theaters — are made for a specific size and weight. You don’t get a ‘special’ section at stores because you fit into a regular size. You don’t get judged when ordering food. The things you take for granted every single day are nightmares to overweight people. Movements for fat acceptance is ridiculed, and people who are attracted to bigger men and women are called fetishists. You tell me try to be skinny for a year? I challenge to be fat for a week.”

One person hoped to be the voice of reason in the debate that has inspired 3,000 comments on Magallanes’s Facebook and over 100 more on the Love What Matters Instagram: “It shouldn’t be a competition for who is the most marginalized,” @sunnyvee87 said. “This post is calling for people to respect all shapes and sizes. From the sound of it, this girl is correct in feeling like she doesn’t fit in because her body shape is slender.”

From her professional perspective, Tenreiro agrees that it’s probably best to take Magallanes’s post at face value. “What seems like her conscious intention is really just to say that she shouldn’t be commented on, just like someone else in a different situation.”

Whether she should have taken this gripe to Facebook is another matter. For anyone else who wishes others would stop making comments on their body, Tenreiro says there are some easier options: “If this is a complete stranger, you ignore it and get away from there … because I’m not sure it’s helpful to start an argument with somebody that you don’t know.”

If it’s someone closer, like your own mother, you may choose to stand up for yourself and say, “Mom, you know what? You are always commenting on my body, and I would like you to stop,” Tenreiro suggests.

Some might think that lighthearted teasing that someone is too skinny might help them out of a possible eating disorder. This is not the case.

“You can privately say, ‘Are you OK?’” Tenreiro says. “It’s not usually OK to comment on people’s appearance. What people look like is based on so many different things.”

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