The Body-Shaming We Don't Talk About

October 28th 2015

Famous people and regular women alike endure body-shaming, but Spanish model Blanca Padilla just pointed out an overlooked aspect of the body-shaming experience: receiving criticism for being too thin. Some say thin-shaming isn't as damaging as shaming a person for being heavy, but certain people are skinny regardless of diet and exercise and merely have fast metabolisms. Others are victims of eating disorders, which qualify as mental illnesses, and should not be made to feel worse about their issues.

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Speaking to Spanish TV personality Risto Mejide on his show "Al Rincón," Padilla revealed that she struggled with being labeled "too thin" growing up. She has also faced the less subtle side of body-shaming: being told her face was "too fat" at casting calls. Having seen both extremes of the body-shaming spectrum, she understands how damaging both can be to young women.

"Sometimes people don't understand that it's as offensive to criticize someone for being underweight as it is for being overweight, especially when your job revolves around your image," she said, according to a translation posted on a forum called TheFashionSpot.com. "I always think that one of the most important things you have to learn in this society is to accept yourself, and that’s very hard. Normal people have a lot of issues with this, and it’s the same for models because we actually work with our body and physical appearance."

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Padilla also took issue with a recent Instagram essay post by fellow model Gigi Hadid, who wrote that she has been body-shamed for having a curvy appearance, breasts, thighs, and a butt. While Padilla sympathizes with Hadid on the matter, she also thinks it's crucial to give a voice to thin women who have been treated unfairly for their figures.

"I agree with what [Hadid] said but on the other hand I want equality for everyone," Padilla continued. "I don’t have a problem with the fact that you’re a curvy girl on the runway, I support that. But if it was me with your same measurements going to a casting they would send me home to lose weight."

Padilla also acknowledged the fact that Hadid mentioned being supported by designers, editors, and stylists regardless of her size.

"Most of us have to conform to extreme measurements because otherwise we won’t book any jobs while others have the privilege to say that designers love them despite their curves," Padilla added. "Well then, why do they love you? Maybe your millions of followers on Instagram might have something to do with it as well."

Cultural shaming surrounding thinness

Padilla is not the first to point out the issue with shaming women for being thin. Last year, singer Meghan Trainor came under fire for her song "All About That Bass," which encourages women to love their bodies no matter what even though it shows disdain towards thin women. The lyrics simultaneously mock "skinny bitches" and say all women are perfect as they are. Trainor's hit song came more than a decade after the release of the film "Real Women Have Curves," which also faced controversy for spreading the message that only curvy women are "real" women.

Eating disorders and thin-shaming

Many women outside the public eye suffer from eating disorders, and this is one of the many reasons that thin-shaming is so harmful. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), as many as 30 million people suffer from eating disorders (those disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders), which have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. It's wrong to shame someone for suffering from a mental illness, yet many people often forget that eating disorders are mental illnesses and judge those who suffer from them as such.

Though eating disorders affect men, it is much more common for women to have them, and 91 percent of college women in the U.S. have reported attempting to control their weight through dieting, according to ANAD. Nearly a quarter of women said they are "always" or "often" on a diet.

If you are suffering from an eating disorder or think someone you know might be suffering from one, visit the National Eating Disorders Association's website.

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