Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guest Post: Mary Mauney

* Thanks Mary for this great post!*

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“I don’t know why girls want to be skinny and anorexic-looking. I like curvy girls.”

“Guys like girls with curves.”

“Being TOO skinny isn’t attractive to men.”

“Girls need a little junk in the trunk.”

“You should eat, a little meat on your bones looks good.”

I keep hearing this from men. It comes up every time the issue of body acceptance occurs in any way, or even seemingly out of the blue. They seem to think that they’re ‘helping’ in some way by making these statements, that they deserve pats on the backs or cookies for such an ‘enlightened’ view. They seem to expect me just about gush about how RIGHT they are and how GREAT it is to hear a guy say that.

Know why I don’t?

Because it’s not about what men want. Dear guys, I know this flies in the face of everything society tells you about the goals and motivations of women, but it is not about you. The issues of body acceptance--for ALL bodies, not just the ones YOU find attractive, whether those are skinny or curvy or whatever--cannot be boiled down to ‘girls just want guys to like them so they try to be skinny’ and definitely should not be followed, which it usually is, with the additional statement that men like “curvy” women to begin with. There’s a whole lot of fallacy packed into this. Firstly, not all women are attracted to men. Secondly, not all men are attracted to women. Thirdly, those men that are attracted to women are not all attracted to the same body type. And fourthly, thanks for the implication that eating disorders and body image issues is all just our own fault being ~*silly*~ and must be just us poor clueless womenfolk not realizing we already have the body to please men--or at least the male speaker. Yup, this is just about women wanting to please men and getting mixed up about how to do it! But now we’re saved, because a man has assured that he likes curves! Hallelujah!

Oh my god, shut up.

There are a million fucking things that go in to anorexia and bulimia than the idea that men want thin women and we should answer that call. I would say that’s NOT part of it--it definitely is, and we are definitely told that we need a man and don’t deserve one if we aren’t pretty (read: thin) enough. But it’s also that the ‘average’ women we are presented with in our shows, our magazines, every ounce of media we are bombarded with every day, is someone who is being presented as normal yet is, by societal standards, incredibly gorgeous and extraordinarily slim. Take a look at your favorite shows. How do the female characters look? How do the male characters look? Which gender gets to be old, to be fat, to have a facial scar? I love Law & Order SVU, but Olivia could not get away with being Munce’s age and expect to be a regular character on that show. If Danny DeVito and Jack Black were women, they would not, in all likelihood, have been able to make it where they are today, even with twice the talent, and if they had, their bodies, and their worth as human beings, would be judged mercilessly by the public eye. Fat men are seen as having failed at fitness, but fat women are seen as having failed at being people.

And sometimes it’s not even about being thin. Sometimes its about wanting some control over your life or your body in a world where both have been taken out of your hands. Sometimes it about wanting some kind of agency over your body after someone took that agency away by force. Sometimes it’s about punishing your body for having been what that someone used to hurt you. Sometimes it’s about trying to make your outside look as frail and fragile as you feel inside because that is the only way you feel allowed to convey your feelings. Sometimes, dear men, it is not about what you and your cock want from us. And when it is, the solution is NOT to assure women that they are fine the way they are because YOU like them. That just maintains the idea that we need approval for our bodies at all, that the way we feel about our bodies should be dependent on how much they please other people instead of if they’re healthy, not to mention the idea that women should be striving for the approval for men in particular.

You like curvy women? Great. You wanna say what you like? Great. But when you phrase it as if it’s the fucking answer to all anorexia ever, you need to sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up, and get some fucking perspective about just what you’re implying when you basically say that because you prize this body type, women should have it, no matter WHAT that body type is. Don’t tell me shit about what my body “should” have, whether it’s curves or a big butt or a little belly or zero percent body fat. I didn’t ask you. I don’t need your permission. I don’t need your advice. I don’t need your approval. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK AND IT PISSES ME OFF YOU SEEM SO SURE THAT I AND MY VAGINA DO.

(Oh yeah--and some of us don’t have curves because that’s how we are. I really appreciate all the implications that we’re undesirable or only have these bodies because we MUST be sick and starving ourselves. Fuck you again, my “womanliness” (whatever the hell that is) is not defined by my hips being wide anymore than it is by the number on the scale being low.)


  1. This is FANTASTIC and so are you, Mary Grace!

    Also, this post makes me really miss Agnes. :(

  2. Men get caught up in all this, too. As much as we've been taught that a man must approve of our body, men have been taught the same. Passion is great, and I admire yours, but compassion is good, too.

    What can a man do? Don't comment on bodies at all, except perhaps to say, "You're beautiful." If a woman asks your opinion, give it, but with compassion for all women.

  3. In addition to all of this incredible insight, as someone who is generally considered "skinny", I would just like to add that it is wrong to say things such as “I don’t know why girls want to be skinny and anorexic-looking. I like curvy girls” not only for all of the aforementioned reasons, but because not everyone who is thin is thin for unnatural and/or unhealthy reasons. Comments such as the one quoted are just as harmful to body image as the ideas that the media proposes. It is just as wrong to call a "skinny" person disgusting as it is to call a "fat" person disgusting. The way to promote a healthy body image is not through more unhelpful judgement towards the "standard ideal".

  4. Oh, I did not see the last bit of the post, my apologies for posting hastily and being redundant.