In an interview with HuffPostLive, television personality Giuliana Rancic describes how she endures taunts for her extreme thinness in social media.
The interviewer seems to be suggesting that Rancic is very thin as a result of having battled cancer but she looks about the same today as she did before her diagnosis. Rancic wants to make the point that she’s thin because it’s just natural for her to be.
The co-founder of fashion and lifestyle website FabFitFun.com has been ranked by Maxim magazine in the “Hot 100” list and was one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” in 2006. And people tweet about her with the hashtag #tooskinny. Yeah OK.
For as long as I’ve been aware of who Giuliana Rancic was, she’s looked about the same to me. I’d venture to guess that she was a delicate-looking little girl and maybe even went through a gangly period as a teenager. I’ve known many people like her, we all do. We call them bean pole. Chicken legs. Skinny mini. Twiggy. Stretch. Skeletor. String bean. We might make fun of them but mostly in a joking way. We tease the guy with no muscles or the gal with no boobs. We tell them to GO EAT A SANDWICH!
I’m not saying it’s always OK to tease thin people or call them names. But there’s a very distinct difference between what is generally said and believed about very skinny people vs. the fat shaming that’s directed at overweight people. We don’t believe skinny people are depriving themselves of food because they’re self-destructive out of a sense of self-loathing. We don’t assume they struggle with such stress and depression that they’ve lost their appetite and can’t eat. We don’t think they have so little respect for themselves they can’t be bothered to eat a healthy diet. We don’t surmise they’ve been traumatized and they’re trying to make themselves unattractive.
Our culture does not make value judgments about the character of very thin people, based solely on their appearance. The teases and jokes are generally limited to the skinny person’s appearance and how they may be physically weak. I believe the key difference is that our culture sees fat as the justifiable penalty for a weak character, ignorance, and poor choices. It is the character of the fat person that is actually more despised than their fat body. A fat person is seen as freely choosing to be fat and to do nothing about it. Fat shaming is viewed as something fat people deserve.
So what’s different about how our culture judges thin people? We either do not associate negative character traits to what contributes to making people thin or we accept that some people are simply thin by their nature and we deduce nothing about their choices. Clearly, similar assumptions are not extended to fat people.
Giuliana Rancic gets to say that she’s very thin because she has a “faster metabolism” and people will believe her. What do you think the comments would be if Melissa McCarthy went on TV and said she had a “slower metabolism”?