“Oh, honey, she only looks like that because she starves herself,” a mother reassures her self-conscious daughter. “Someone feed that woman a sandwich!” she shouts at the red carpet on her television. “Real women have curves,” she proclaims with pride.
Wait—real women? Who gave any of us the right to define what constitutes as a ‘real woman’ or to make assumptions and judgments about a stranger’s eating habits based on her dress size?
No one did. That’s right; we do not have that right. Not a single one of us.
I recently came across a petition to “Say No to Size Zero”. Katie Green, a curvy UK model who experienced pressure to lose unhealthy amounts of weight, created this petition in order to “fight for curvier women”. The petition aims to ban all size zero models from the fashion industry and the catwalk.
The petition has good intentions. It aims to promote a society in which women do not need to feel as though they must be a size zero in order to be beautiful. Body image is a serious problem among women today and it is commendable to want to remedy the issue. However “saying no to size zero” and skinny shaming does not in any way resolve the problem. In fact, it actually serves to further body image issues.
Banning size zero and denouncing skinny women suggests that there is something wrong with women who have less cleavage and narrower hips. There isn’t. Tearing down skinny women sends the message that it is okay to judge a woman based on the shape of her body. It isn’t. Claiming that “curvy women are better” suggests that one body type is superior to another. It’s not.
Some women are tall, and some are short. Some women are petite, while others are curvy. These characteristics should not define or distinguish a person. We should not ban size zero models from the runway. We should not ban anyone from the runway. Society needs to realize that in order to have a world in which all citizens feel comfortable in their bodies, we must celebrate and acknowledge that there are different body types.
The fashion industry should represent all of these body types and promote body equality instead of a one-sided sizeism. We desperately need to stop playing the size game as a competition that must have a winner. Instead of dividing ourselves according to our waist measurements or our cup sizes, we need to unite under the common cause of body confidence and positive self-image in order to truly triumph over the body issues that we are combatting today. We need to not say no to size zero, but instead say yes to size equality.