I’m a Skinny Yogi, I’m a Real Woman & I’m Not Anorexic.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Oct 12, 2013
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Jennifer White

Okay, real women have curves—it’s true. Most people aren’t going to argue with that.

We nearly all have breasts—whether small or extra-large—and we all have hips, rear ends, etc, etc, but you know what? I barely weigh a buck-fifteen—and that’s okay.

Because real women are sometimes thin too.

And real women have skin folds and stretch marks and yada yada yada.

I am so sick of women arguing over whether “real” women are heavy or tiny.

Here’s the deal: I was watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with my daughter earlier and let me just say that I’ll admit to being annoyed.

Not slightly annoyed or mildly agitated but Belle was full-on giving me a headache—and I’m alright with princesses. I’m down with glass slippers and temporary comas. Still, there’s only so much that a lady can take.

Example: Belle is “different” and “a most peculiar mademoiselle”—because she reads.

The future princess is a bookworm and that makes her a unique female. Um, okay. Moving on.

Belle is also traditionally beautiful (read: traditionally slender).

In short, I watch movies and read books with my toddler and obviously I notice that there’s a stereotypical look for women to have. For Godsakes, I remember reading Seventeen magazine and thinking that the girls were gorgeous—and I proceeded to be anorexic for years to follow.

So, yeah, I’m a skinny yogi and I’m not anorexic—now. But I used to be, and let me tell you that judging women by appearances is never okay, be it small or large.

Because not all women are overweight. I’m sorry but we’re not. Simple fact.

And not all ladies that practice yoga are either two ends of an opposing spectrum—anorexic and teensy or overweight and “normal.” And since when was the opposite of starving yourself being obese?

You know, I’m expecting a lot of horrid responses from this—I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the barrage. Yet the thing is, why is it acceptable to degrade women of smaller proportions—calling them eating disordered and, essentially, not even “real” women—and it’s not okay to simply say that women come in all shapes and sizes, including  but not limited to extra small?

And here’s the deal too: yes, I used to be anorexic—but that was an emotional problem. It had nothing to do, really, with my shape or size. It had to do with not wanting to own my emotions and deal with becoming a woman—because women do have curves.

Real women do have butts and breasts and maybe even little rolls in their armpits. We also have responsibilities, feelings, thoughts and dreams and it’s not always easy to grow up. At the same time, just because your parts are bigger than mine doesn’t mean you’re healthier, more of a grown woman or better in any way—just like I’m not better either.

And women will not stop being criticized, compared or defined until we stop defining ourselves first.

So, go ahead: own your curves and your real-woman ass. It’s awesome—for real. I, too, am fabulous with my miniature bosom and scrawny arms—and I’m still strong. You are too.

Muscles, skin, bones, fat—they make up both of us, regardless of what size jeans and bras we wear.

So, yes, please, rock on with your bad self—I will also. I work hard to feel good about who I am, inside and out, and I know you do too.

I’m merely offering that we consider that the opposite of a “real” woman isn’t necessarily a skinny one.

No, come to think of it, the opposite of a real woman is a phony one—and I’m being genuine in my body, like you are in yours.

And let’s agree to disagree, or better still, let’s agree that a woman isn’t determined by something as inconsequential as facts—and figures.


Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


100 Responses to “I’m a Skinny Yogi, I’m a Real Woman & I’m Not Anorexic.”

  1. sabine says:

    yup…I think you got it right on the money! I am also naturally slender and am glad that at age 46 I finally have the experience in life to be unapologetic for who I am…naturally. I could never understand why we are so judgemental of our different shapes and sizes…probably easy to say for a size 5, I know that…but the world would be a happier place if we could practice self love, regardless of shape and size. My endeveour, for the rest of my life, is to love myself better – no matter what my shape or size.

  2. Exchange from Facebook:

    Reader: I liked this a lot. Made me remember some of the flack I got by some for saying SOME women give birth and get back to looking like their pre-pregnancy selves very quickly. I was one of them. I shared how hurtful it was to get comments suggesting that I was 1. anorexic or had other disorder 2. was addicted to working out. 3. was obsessed with looking like a celebrity mother. Wow. You can't take this stuff personally, but many of those commentators completely missed the point I was trying to make. My favs were the ones implying that I was "bragging". Er, no. . .
    about an hour ago · Edited · Unlike · 2

    Jennifer White I was back in my clothes immediately after birth too. It happens. My intention with this article is not to offend. Rather, it's to consider that I'm told on a regular basis things like "you need to go eat" or, my favorite when I wasn't served cake at a birthday party, "I didn't think you would want it;" and those types of comments to thin women are considered highly acceptable, yet it's ubiquitously demonized to call a larger woman anything besides curvy, luscious or, my personal favorite, "real."
    I think it's time that we take into account that judging women for size—regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall on—shouldn't be okay.
    about an hour ago · Like · 2

    Reader: I've always been thin. I hear "You need to eat!" a lot. I agree 100% with your points.
    about an hour ago · Unlike · 2

    Jennifer White And why shouldn't you have been allowed to brag (even though I get that you weren't)? A heavy lady who flaunts and verbalizes pride over her assets is "strong," "real" and "beautiful," but a thin woman doing the same thing is "arrogant," "cocky," or a bragger? Fine. I'm an arrogant, cocky bragger—because I'm proud of my body too.

    • kaya10 says:

      oh me too… I am skinny. Always have been. I've been told I am "emaciated" (hardly) and people have no problem telling me to eat more. Anyone who knows me, knows I eat like a horse! Love food and do not have a problem….yet it is perfectly acceptable to comment on my body. Can you imagine someone finding it ok to tell a heavy person to stop eating so much?

  3. Shanti says:

    You are my hero. I LOVE YOU. Thank you! I feel exactly the same way you do. Thin women are real women too. The important thing is FEELING GOOD! The whole "real women have curves" ethos (ick, so tired of it) only separates women by setting us up to participate in the comparison game (which really just shows low self esteem/self worth), which is exactly what we DON'T NEED to be doing! We need to unite and agree that all shapes are beautiful, not just the curvy ones. I don't have a lot of curves but hey I'm not going to deny it, I'm no less a real woman than someone with curves. And I love being thin. If you love your body that's all that matters.

  4. Peach Dumars says:

    I love this, and could have written every word myself (also a skinny yogi, recovered anorexic, with small children who watch those princess movies). I have had similar thoughts many times…thanks so much for putting into words!

  5. Lacy says:

    I think it's been well established now that using the term 'real woman' is judgemental and discriminatory. There have been many bloggers who have rightly pointed out that this is not a fair term and I completely agree. However, for those of you who feel hurt when this term is occasionally used, I challenge you to image being harshly judged like this every time you turn on the TV, browse the internet, read a magazine or even overhear comments by strangers about how you look. If you are overweight this is your daily reality.

    The term ' real women' should be retired, but it was borne of the need to push back against the relentless hounding of overweight people, especially women. So, yes speak up about how it makes you feel when you are judged for being thin, but also keep in mind that there is a context to this issue that should be taken into consideration.

    • amphibi1yogini says:


      How many naturally thin, couldn't gain an ounce teachers–who in one breath state to the then plumpish me (U.S. size 12 at the time, in the New York City area–and thought of as "fat" by the [male] former studio owner–and that I was "of size" and that I had "much INNER beauty"–*asshole*) that it is okay to appreciate the body you are in, right now – and "you are beautiful" (and all that associated claptrap) … have ever said to me – in another breath – anything other than, "but I certainly wouldn't want to be FAT" …

      I guess that means there are only certain KINDS of "beautiful", n'est ce pas?

    • Brianne says:

      I disagree with this. I was never anorexic, I'm Ukrainian and I eat like it's my job. I have struggled with keeping on body weight my whole life, I even resorted to eating mayonnaise out of the jar with a spoon when I became a teenager in an effort to gain weight (yes, disgusting I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures). I was bullied so badly in school because I looked like a boy until I was 16, and I literally had no friends in school. (and developed a mental disorder because of all the trauma, which isn't exactly convenient). To say that women that struggle with weight are the only ones that understand real turmoil is ignorant, as my femininity was challenged because of my real, natural body. I hated myself and the way I looked for years and years and years, until I finally caught onto the war that is raging against all women (regardless of appearance or size). There is no context that needs to be taken into consideration other than the fact that women are pitted against each other and dehumanized straight across the board, and this has more to do with the way society perceives our gender than anything. We are held up to an impossible, unnatural standard and we need to unite to support our sisters. We don't all look the same, and we never will. We are all real and we are all women. Nothing else needs to be said.

  6. Sarah says:

    I really related to this a lot. I've always been tall and skinny. I'm also a nutritionist, I spent five years at university studying nutrition , I know I'm healthy. But I've been told many times (sometimes by complete strangers) that I need to eat more food, had people question my health (which as a health professional is actually quite insulting). One lady actually confronted my mum about me having an eating disorder, why is that OK? I 100% agree with you that women need to stop judging one another, I am no less a women than a lady wearing a 10 instead of my 2. We should celebrate our differences not ridicule them! I'm comfortable in myself, it took me a while to be but I'm a lot happier for it 🙂

  7. Caroline Behymer says:

    Love.. love.. love this… I am not or have never struggled with anorexia.. but I do have daughter who did. She is now a skinny yogi like you. As her Mom I worry about her… (you get this you're a mom) but Yoga and a belief in God and his healing powers are what I believe will keep my daughter in recovery: and having a mom who will pray for her every single day that she has a healthy and realistic view of her body and self image. Yoga has helped me look at myself as a beautiful curvaceous , big bosomed, inflexible down dog loving yogini. I probably will never get into crow pose (I've been trying for three years..ha!) but guess what I am gonna keep on trying, cause maybe in another 3 years I will. But it the small accomplishments in my yoga practice that keep me coming back to it… like maybe getting in one more vinyasa before needing a child's pose. Anyways.. all i really wanted to say, is thank you for your article.. I loved it. I love when I an reminded and encouraged to be ME and love ME for who I am, and where I am, in this moment, in this life.

  8. Karmamama says:

    Well I'm definitely not in the skinny category at all, but I'm not fat either, at 5'5" 126lbs and aged 44 I'm probably in the in between category I guess. In my life I have been skinny in my 20's and fat in my 30's producing 4 daughters – I'm happy now 🙂 But I have to say I loved your article – I am often shocked at how people are able to make derogatory comments at thin people, and every one is cool, but they wouldn't get away with the same commentary re fat people. We'll done for calling it out.

  9. Kristal says:

    Yaaaay I loved reading this! I’ve never been a “curvy” girl/woman if you ask most men or women. Tall and top heavy, small bottom and yet other women have critized me for being skinny and men have shunned me because “of the lack of junk in my trunk”,which apparently equates to my beauty”! It starts within as you said! It took me awhile to figure that out. I eat healthy, goto Yoga, do tons of cardio, all because I like having the stamina. If I went on a eating marathon I couldn’t gain enough weight to satisfy the masses and believe me, I tried! I thought the more I weighed the more men would like me and see me as curvy! I am learning to let it go as I have now entered 40. By the way, I love being 40 for all its worth and I’m loving my body just the way it is! I celebrate you for being so courageous! Thank you again! 🙂

  10. kaya10 says:

    Oh yes! This is one of the few things I have criticized others openly on! Yes ! Real women have curves and Real women don't too. Thank you! Say it!

  11. Jacquie says:

    I haven’t met all that many women who were ‘naturally skinny’. Every one of them ate little or nothing, puked in private, and/or obsessively exercised. Perhaps there are some, but does it really matter which side of the same fucked up coin we are on? Fat, skinny, we’re all part of the same mess and trying to figure out how to love ourselves.

    • Kat says:

      Hi Jacquie,
      My name is Kat, I'm 25, I bike 10 minutes to work everyday and you might find me hiking on weekends. I also enjoy pilates once or twice a week. I love eating hamburgers, doughnuts and never deprive myself from eating whatever I want, may that be salad or pizza or a late night ice cream snack. Oh and I don't puke in private. Consider you've just met a naturally skinny woman. No fucked up coin for me.
      Ta ta

    • This response is seriously sad and totally ignorant. I don't know who you've been associating with, but I could introduce you to many, many naturally thin women who aren't harming themselves, publicly or privately. What does "it really matter which side of the same fucked up coin we are on? " That's exactly the point of this article: I'm not fucked up at all. At all. I'm 100% real, unphotoshopped, healthy yet not-deprived eater, you name it. I think you have some of your own issues to address if you think this is a normal state of being.

    • jacquie says:

      I think you misread my comments, and that's fine but I am not saying I don't think there *ARE* any naturally skinny women, I am saying that the skinny women I have known were just as fucked up, – scratch that – "concerned" with their weight/looks/size/etc as the rest of us. So my point is only what does it matter if you are skinny or fat? Sorry if you read it as an attack. my bad.

      • amphibi1yogini says:

        I LOVE this … "concern" being translated to: going on every cleanse that comes along … to "detoxify" … *snorgle, snorgle* …

        I've witnessed more than one naturally slender yogini get super-thin (for a time) this way …

        • Sam says:

          "I think you have some of your own issues to address if you think this is a normal state of being."
          My opinion of you has just plummeted.

          • Wow. Your opinion of me plummeted because I don't think that all women are fucked up? You must have had a pretty low opinion to start off with.

          • Brianne says:

            Fucking preach it Jennifer. Jacquie, its pretty ignorant of you to say "I don't know any women like this, they all do this." I'm sorry, I didn't realize I had an eating disorder. Thank you for notifying me. I'm 5'8 and I weigh 125 pounds soaking weight, and I have never been able to get past 130 and that's if I'm eating constantly for weeks. Thanks for doing what kids have done to me my whole life, and alluding to the assumption that I'm doing this to myself. I finally love my body after years of self-hate, thank you very much.

          • amphibi1yogini says:


      • Jacquie, I didn't read this as an attack at all, but I do completely disagree. There's nothing wrong with your feedback and you certainly don't have to apologize, but I will maintain that not all women spend their mental energy worrying about their weight. I don't even own a scale. I know many women who simply eat without deprivation but without also eating away their emotions. The point of this article is not to pit heavy women against thin women; that's not the point at all actually. All I'm suggesting is that "real" is a term that's more often than not applied to only women in a certain way (for one, not thin). (Read Kate B's article shared on ej FB.)

        • Emily says:

          I wasn't going to comment on this article at all, because I think your argument has validity and I respect that. However, your reply above brings up a very sensitive point: "heavy" vs "thin." Can you honestly say one of those terms is not pejorative? I am a yoga teacher, and because of emotional eating due to a bunch of crap that happened with my son after his birth, I am now overweight. This doesn't make me, or any other woman who eats emotionally, less than in any way. I know that I am also strong, trying to eat more mindfully, and more biologically tended towards gaining in the tummy. We all have our issues to deal with, i.e. "all sides of the same fucked-up coin." It's the truth!

      • ebb says:

        Okay, okay, I'll bite. Because I haven't seen another comment similar:

        Yes! I am a thin woman who is obsessed with being thin, (but also obsessed with being healthy and strong and living a long and healthful life). I eat loads of coconut oil and avocados, but if I notice a couple pounds weight gain (totally and completely natural, chill the fuck out Em, you are not paid to be skinny like a model), I make sure to scale back on food and work out more because there is a part of myself that subscribes to society's insanely unachievable beauty standard. But there is also a part of myself that knows it's much harder to pop-up quickly on a surfboard with just a few extra pounds (thank God there is a balance).

        I have work to do, but I have noticed a lot of progress in my healing of this: I continually admire (and find quite beautiful) women who are more curvy than me; they inspire me to think myself beautiful too When I do gain weight (and I do, I assure you: I have to eat right and exercise in order to stay thin, am not a totally natural thin person, and sometimes I binge eat and sit around all day), I am learning to look at myself naked in the mirror and love the extra weight. It is less teenage-girlish and more womanly. It's like admiring someone else. If I don't personalize my body to myself, I have no problem with it. It's because of societal brainwashing that I still associate my value as a woman in part with how well I fit into society's unachievable beauty ideal….I know I will grow out of this.

        So, yes, definitely so many naturally super-high metabolism women out there–I imagine that comes with problems of its own–and definitely many women like myself who put effort in to stay thin. Indeed, many sides of the same coin.

    • JustAverage says:

      I am naturally quite slender, I eat fatty things, never had an eating disorder, etc. I'm active, but have gone months without working out and notice no changes except muscle tone. I have stayed the same weight basically as I was in Highschool…I'm 38. It is more common than you think. I do take it as a slight when people tell me "You need to eat!", etc.

  12. S.Tanner says:

    Perhaps it is not as difficult as it seems. Living in balance without "obsessive" eating/exercise is not a
    f'd up coin or anything else. Not easy, but not difficult either. Just takes a lot of forgiveness & self-compassion.

  13. Crystal says:

    Great article and interesting comments. As a woman of the larger curvier set, I gotta say that I don't look as skinny women as the way you described it. I think all women should be self accepting and loving. We grew up in the same society so I know the same pressure you felt, although I never had an eating disorder, I most certainly fell under depression because I didn't fall under what is beautiful according to American mainstream standards.But I learned to love myself because no matter what I did, I was still going to be in the same body I was given.Let' stop assuming that someone from the opposite end of the spectrum is hating on us, because really, we aren't. More love, more support and less stereo typing and less assuming.

    • Brianne says:

      As a naturally skinny person, let me tell you that I was so badly bullied in school because of it that I developed a severe social anxiety disorder and another mental disorder on top of it from the trauma and self-loathing that I experienced growing up. There are people hating people from every spectrum, and this is not an assumption. Let's not take attention away from the issue on hand, which is the discrimination of women as a whole.

  14. befunknote says:

    I totally got the "do you even eat?" comment today. Um…yes, of course I eat, I'm alive aren't I??

  15. My personal favorite: being the only one at a fairly large birthday party who wasn't served cake. I looked around for my piece and the cake-cutter said, "Oh, I didn't think you would want any. You don't look like you eat cake." Ohh…kay…

    • Emily says:

      Holy crap, RUDE. MEAN AND RUDE. There just isn't any other way to describe that comment.

      • nosweetme says:

        oh wow. he was being rude for both parties…imagine someone who actually got her piece of cake hearing this…"Okay, so I look like I eat cake all the time?' 😀 he also might have taken different strategy and tried to give you more than others, because "you need to eat more!"…

  16. Amy Landry says:

    I'm so grateful you have put this out there!

    I'm a skinny yogini… and I've not ever had an eating disorder, never. I'm healthy, fit, and strong. Both of my parents are naturally very slim. In fact not one person in my entire extended family is overweight (nor does anyone smoke, or have diabetes).

    I've had just as many insecurities over the years as curvier women do… I'd LOVE to know what it feels like to have womanly curves… breasts and a butt! But hey, that's just not me this lifetime… and I'm ok with that.

    I too am sick of reading that skinny is unhealthy. I'm sick of reading that curves are 'healthy'. Health is not determined by ones body weight or body type necessarily.

    In trying to make curvier women feel better about their weight, society has been dragging down those women more slim than the 'average'. The 'average' size of a women is growing larger each year, and 'skinny' women are becoming less and less, and somehow this has made me personally a subject to a lot of criticism from many people about my weight (even random strangers).

    It blows my mind how it is acceptable in society to say to a woman's face "oh geez you're so skinny aren't you" – but so unacceptable to downright say the opposite. Both are judgements.

    Women should not be judged on their weight or body type. It's all about HEALTH. It's all about SELF LOVE and ACCEPTANCE 🙂 xxxxxxxxxx

    • Amy, that's what I think, almost exactly. In trying to make "curvy" girls feel good, it's at the expense of another body-type of women. It's wrong. It needs to be called out. So I did. The article calling out judgment towards curvy women got largely nothing but wonderfully positive responses, and mine got a lot of negative even though I in no way judge anyone or put anyone down at all through my article. I too simply share my truth, and some reader responses (mostly on FB) simply prove to me why I needed to state what I stated.
      Thanks for your feedback. So appreciated. xoxoxo

    • amphibi1yogini says:

      Hey… I repreSENT that, I'd gotten diabetes while BMI of only 25 (and somewhat muscular at the time) for YEARS prior … and plenty of Type 2 diabetics (such as Tom Hanks) were never – as a rule – fat …

      This culture should stop demonizing BOTH conditions …

    • Emily says:

      SO true. I'm glad someone finally wrote about this, I've been thinking these thoughts for years.

  17. Toni says:

    This whole topic is pretty annoying to me. I am a yogi with Crohn's disease. My weight fluctuates with my disease. Yoga has taught me to meet myself where I am. To be comfortable with myself everyday as long as I continue to move toward balance. It has freed me from basing the opinion of myself on other peoples thoughts. Their thoughts are their experience, not mine. I take care of my body to the best of my ability every day. This is where I live. I am a child of God and divine. The rest is just fluff, some days more than others. Right now I'm in the "more than" phase, and there are comments. I ignore them. Two months from now I may be on the other side. How about we all just let go of the judgement and just be.

    • Brianne says:

      I agree with you, and I congratulate you for being so strong and being able to work past all of your hardships and being able to develop yourself so well. This topic is necessary, however, for women who have not come to this realization and do not have the self-confidence to do so themselves. This article is to bolster us to focus more on ourselves than on society. Not all of us are at the same place, and some need a little nudge and some encouragement. Maybe some of the other ladies don't have Crohn's, but every person has their own different challenges to overcome and have experienced different trauma, so bringing awareness to the oppression against women should not be such an annoying thing.

  18. Sarah says:

    I totally agree with this! I think there is so much body hating in the world today and it really has to stop! I mean who cares what kind of body you have or don't have that doesn't make the person you are. Being that I have been both skinny and now curvy I understand both points of view and I think the comments come from people wanting to feel not so bad about themselves, i think that it's a way of trying to accept how they look by saying that "real women" are this or that,if you get what I mean. I am just so done with all the body hate and shaming and what society's ideal women are suppose to look like. You are suppose to be exactly who you are! Learn to love yourself and it won't matter anymore what people say. I love this post, thank you!

  19. Ashwin S says:

    To me there is no "real" women. There are just women in all their forms. If your naturally slender or plumb or curved that is who you are. Don't have to change it for conformation. The only change that would be important in lifestyle would be for health and wellness.

    But really, I don't believe there is a so called "Real" women or a way a Woman is supposed to look a certain way to be considered "Real". All these definitions are purely subjective to each individual. Personally character and personality is eternal.


  20. Erica says:

    Great article…and most of the responses have been positive, because you are writing from you heart 🙂

  21. thank you for this, Jennifer. i love Ayurveda for the possibility of liberating us from the whole conversation of 'what is a beautiful body'. in Ayurveda, there are three doshas – energies that make up every individual and perform different physiological functions in the body. we all have a particular balance of these and that balance determines so much, including the shape, size and even color of the body…our hair and complexion. obesity is a concern as is anorexia because both are life threatening and speak to a degraded sense of self, which is absurdly fed in a culture of insecurity and competition. may we all love ourselves for who we are and share ourselves without hesitation. may we all be in the perfect form that is our own unique form of beauty in this world… we are needed in this way – together – NOW. asana is a wonderful practice for all… love, megan

  22. Robyn says:

    I seem to remember being annoyed by Lane Bryant's "real woman" campaign years ago. I was in my 20s and naturally very thin and all I could think was, "Thanks a lot." It is an annoying term. I am still thin but spend a lot of time preoccupied with how I should lose 5 lbs of fat. So many women struggle with their appearance and I'm starting to rebel against that. If I wasn't thin enough when I WAS 5 lbs thinner, when will I ever be good enough? (I've never had any kind of eating disorder, just kind of beat myself up a lot.) Yes, let's kill the idea of "if women are thin, they must have a disorder of some kind" and heavier women are the "real women." We are all beautiful in our own ways and let's learn to support each other and love ourselves more.

    • Robin says:

      I agree that we should not use the phrase "real women," bit you do realize, I'm sure, that Lane Bryant is a store for women who have difficulty finding clothing in any other clothing stores for women, right? Have you considered that perhaps the ad is to validate the only women who perhaps do *not* feel like real women? I can't tell you how many times I've left a shop in tears and feeling like a freak because I can't find clothing to fit my size 14 body. If Lane Bryant wants my business and catches my attention by stating that I, *too*, am a real woman — well fine. The fact that you can go into most shops and find something that actually fits you is your validation. While I agree that we should all support each other, it would be disingenuous to say that "thin privilege" doesn't exist and that for the most part, heavier women have a rougher go at it when it comes to societal acceptance. That being said, I would stand up for anyone who is being dissed for their body size, big or small.

      • Wow, is it THAT bad these days? In the 1970s, size 14 used to be a fairly popular goal size … I was above a size 20 only briefly … at age 24, and then was mostly around the size 18-20 area … Lane Bryant had been my store for years, until I was told about a better store: Ashley Stewart …

  23. Robin says:

    I agree with this, mostly, but I object to the word “overweight.” Which weight are heavier women over? You are not referring to yourself as “underweight.” Your word choice seems to imply the same judgement that you are objecting to. Body-shaming is never OK.

    • Annabella says:

      As a woman who has been called 'underweight' (not by a doctor, just those opinionated laypeople….), i can totally understand your point Robin. The idea of a ideal weight can only apply to each individual based on their particular metabolic functioning, genetics and lifestyle and how they feel their healthiest.

      • Again, this is semantics.

        • Robin says:

          Indeed it is. "Semantics" means the meaning of a word. The definition of "overweight" is "above a weight considered normal or desirable." If this is not your intention, as a writer, perhaps you can choose a different word to more accurately convey your intention. Otherwise, it leaves one wondering if while you are protesting the idea that larger women are called "real" at the expense of thinner women. Or perhaps you are struggling with a bias towards larger women.

          As I commented above, "thin privilege" is alive and well in our society. To deny that is to deny the suffering of most larger women. I agree with you that the term "real women" is offensive (and the argument has already been extensively played out in the blogosphere), but it was intended as push-back against the very real stigma that *all* women suffer from.

          I would hope that being stigmatized for being thin, would make one more sensitive to the plight of larger women, who, I would argue, deal with body stigma more frequently (did you know that some clowns declared it #fatshamingweek on twitter last week? Ouch.). Anecdotally, it is rare that I hear my skinny friends say that they want to gain weight, but my normal-sized friends won't shut up about wanting to lose weight!

          While you feel that larger women want to be made to feel better at the expense of thinner women, I would argue that we just want to feel like we are beautiful, too. We don't hear it enough. Pick up a copy of any magazine or watch any movie if you don't understand what I mean.

          • I prefer the terms, "gravitationally enhanced" for those who do a little better in the weight department on, say, Earth's moon's gravitational field … and "gravitationally slighted" for the opposite …

            Yes! Shows MY bias …

            Yes. REally! Overweight ?… over WHOSE weight …?

          • Brianne says:

            There is such a thing as overweight and underweight. Overweight means over a person's natural healthy body weight, which differs from person to person. Being overweight and underweight can both affect your health negatively. Just like curvy and thin can both be healthy, but not on the same people. Just like if I suddenly grew big boobs and a butt, it wouldn't be proportionate or look good because it wouldn't go with the rest of my body. We're just built differently, but health should be what we're striving for. And for our own sakes, nobody else's.

    • fluffy.. says:

      Overweight is a technical term established for the BMI. A standardised and accepted measurement. Being overweight causes various health problems and adds to the burden on the health system. It is also a fact. If you are overweight, then you need to exercise more and change your diet. Don't object to reality because you are unhappy with it. It is not body shaming. Ask a doctor: it is unhealthy to be overweight.

  24. Shasha says:

    Fantastic article! Doing yoga everyday is my job and when even friends say I’m too thin I just smile and change the subject. I have body fat same as everyone. I just have less than some and I put that down to my super active lifestyle! I too still have curves, they are just smaller, and ultimately I’m proud of my muscle tone and the relative wellness of my body compared to when I was less active. I like myself this way, I’m not obsessed and I apologise to nobody. If people criticise it of jealousy they have to own the fact that their lifestyle choices are reflected in their physique. “I couldn’t do that” means “I’m not prepared to do that” which is fine and also nothing to do with me. Don’t criticise my choices and I won’t criticise yours! Enjoy your body and if you are not enjoying it, ask yourself why. If you want a change be realistic and see if you’re prepared to do the work. If not accept your decision and love with it. Don’t take it out on others who do. Xx

    • amphibi1yogini says:

      Total. Value. Judgment. You are no better than me, only DIFFERENT.

    • Robin says:

      Many people work out regularly and are healthy and strong, but not thin and muscular looking. You know zero about a person’s mental or physical health just by looking at them. Enjoy your body, but please don’t judge mine.

      • amphibi1yogini says:

        Thank you, Robin. Strong may be the new skinny. NOT. Strong is the new strong.
        As a physically weaker person due to chronic disease now (plus the management of same), imho and experience, skinny just is….

        And self-righteous is always ugly and never in fashion …

      • lindsay says:

        hey, thinner people are demoralized and judged, too. to their faces. if you want examples, let me know. i do not judge larger people, i dont really even care what they look like, but plenty of people have felt the freedom to comment on my body and assume i am gifted this magic metabolism when #1 my body is NONE of their business and #2 like you wrote above, they know jack about my life or experiences.

        we ALL struggle and we are ALL judged. Trust me.

    • Lacy says:

      I have found that conversations of this nature eventually devolve and comments like this pop up. The 'don't hate me because I'm beautiful' refrain has no place in this mostly productive thread.

  25. Danielle says:

    Thank you from one thin person to another. I too, have had the hate from others because I'm thin. I've just started loving myself and it's a long time in coming as I"m almost 50. The hardest one was from a close friend who wouldn't be around me because she was heavier and self conscience, and I made her feel "bad" about herself. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Angie says:

    Thank you for this. i bet you feel better after writing your emotions down. I feel your fire sparking and i appreciate your effort, honesty and strength. Thanks for speaking up, we could all use more of it and i totally agree with what you are saying.

  27. Thank you for the honest and well written article. I wish I could have in a class with me to speak this truth out-loud to my students.

    As a man, a boyfriend, a Yogi, and an established Yoga instructor I would love to maybe remind everyone to shift away from the focus of big or thin, skinny or fat. Perhaps what we should be asking is 'Am I Healthy?'

    So yes we know everyone comes in all shapes and sizes, however there is a healthy version and an unhealthy version of every size. Skinny doesn't usually mean anorexic and it doesn't usually mean healthy either , or more accurately these blanket terms are a distraction from what should be the real issue of 'Am I Healthy?'.

    By healthy I mean, do you eat healthy, have a healthy relationship with food, diet, exercise, sleep, socializing, etc. We can say Fat is beautiful until the end of time but that can be a bit of a bias in-itself, just as saying lean is healthy. Because as the writer so perfectly communicates that there can be a healthy version of skinny and one that is not..just as there is a healthy version of a not skinny person and a version that is not.

    Lets forget about sizes and stop labeling people by sizes. Let's instead begin to discern wether something is Healthy or Not and wether it is rooted in a healthy lifestyle or not.

    Men, until recently had the luxury of being free of this labeling for themselves. Though now I am starting to see the same bullshit labeling towards men, and surprise, men are now developing just as many negative body issues and eating disorders that we historically attributed to women.

    So lets stop saying 'Fat is beautiful, or Lean is healthy' – Instead let us ask ourselves 'Am I eating right, living right, feeling right'? If not change THAT and then let your physical body to transform to support your healthier version of your True Self ..whatever that hell that may look like.

  28. Thank you for the honest and well written article. I wish I could have you in a class with me to speak this truth out-loud to my students.

    As a man, a boyfriend, a Yogi, and an established Yoga instructor I would love to maybe remind everyone to shift away from the focus of big or thin, skinny or fat. Perhaps what we should be asking is 'Am I Healthy?'

    So yes we know everyone comes in all shapes and sizes, however there is a healthy version and an unhealthy version of every size. Skinny doesn't usually mean anorexic and it doesn't usually mean healthy either , or more accurately these blanket terms are a distraction from what should be the real issue of 'Am I Healthy?'.

    By healthy I mean, do you eat healthy, have a healthy relationship with food, diet, exercise, sleep, socializing, etc. We can say Fat is beautiful until the end of time but that can be a bit of a bias in-itself, just as saying lean is healthy. Because as the writer so perfectly communicates that there can be a healthy version of skinny and one that is not..just as there is a healthy version of a non-skinny person and a version that is not.

    Lets forget about sizes and stop labeling people by sizes. Let's instead begin to discern wether something is Healthy or Not and wether it is rooted in a healthy lifestyle or not.

    Men, until recently had the luxury of being free of this labeling for themselves. Though now I am starting to see the same bullshit labeling towards men, and surprise, men are now developing just as many negative body issues and eating disorders that we historically attributed to women.

    So lets stop saying 'Fat is beautiful, or Lean is healthy' – Instead let us ask ourselves 'Am I eating right, living right, feeling right'? If not change THAT and then let your physical body magically transform to support your healthier version of your True Self ..whatever that hell shape that may look like.

  29. Kim says:

    Love this. The longer I live, the more I think we really don't have much control over our size or appetites. Until I was 45, I couldn't put on weight if I tried. I am male, 5'8" and for most of my life I was 120 lbs. I had a pretty typical American diet of pizza, cheeseburgers and doughnuts, whatever I want really…..and sometimes I would gorge…..old country buffet, bring it! A whole pizza? No problem! I enjoy running because I have a natural affinity for it but my running volume could not possibly account for the extra calories I eat…..I often eat 4000-5000 cal/day. My friends say I have a wooden leg.

    I didn't choose to be 120 lbs and I don't think someone who is 300lbs chooses that either. Whatever size you are it is not a moral or characterological flaw. Let's be kind.

  30. Annabella says:

    Thanks Jennifer for fighting the good fight. I've been saying 'ALL women are real' for years, every time it comes up in social media. The divide and rule tactic is used by media and commercial interests to keep us fighting amongst ourselves AND against our 'selves'. As you have experienced……I am lucky that i've never had an eating disorder although being thin means i've often been told i have! This is such a Western issue. There are so many women in the world who are thin because they do not have enough to eat, who have to work their butts off every day to provide at least one meal for their families of which they usually take the smallest portion……Let's all be thankful we have choices over what we put into our bodies and stop playing into the hands of capitalist producers by turning against the sisters around us and put the energy these sorts of issues take up into supporting our sisters in places where the real issues are control of food resources and exploitation by multinational corporations who plant monocultures and export the produce back to the West as animal feed and processed non-food……Thanks for being pro-active and being prepared to take the flak Jennifer! 🙂

  31. Stefanie says:

    I like your conclusion: "let’s agree that a woman isn’t determined by something as inconsequential as facts—and figures." I've seen several articles like this recently on both ends of the spectrum – either written by larger or smaller yogis. Truth is, whichever end of the spectrum you think you fall on, this is a huge issue for so many (both women and men). I can't help but think there is a bit of a "grass is greener on the other side" thing going and our shadow self sees something in the person we are judging or criticizing: maybe it's envy, disgust, pain over past struggles…the list could go on. Not that I am perfect (either with my own body issues or judgement of others), I think one of the best things we can do is love ourselves and our own bodies first and see if that dissolves some of the outward judgement and/or reaction to others' criticism. Peace, yogis/yoginis of all sizes!

  32. Megynn says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful, honest article. It's lovely when someone shares their perspective from the heart. It's hurtful to be judged by size, shape, weight, color, "prettiness" or some other arbitrary standard of what we're supposed to look like according to whatever this decade decides. As someone who has struggled with weight my entire life, I can say that at 46 I am healthier and more accepting with myself than ever. I'm sorry that it has taken this long. I've only been noticeably "thin" when I've been very ill with my eating disorder or drug use. Now I'm active, healthy, curvy, flexible and imperfect – and yet, that's perfect for me. Trees are all different shapes. My three dogs are different shapes. Clouds are different shapes. The sky is a different color of blue every day. I have freckles and age spots and a few wrinkles here and there. Others have browner skin or paler skin or younger skin or pinker cheeks.. ad infinitum. The problem is not that we judge fat women or thin women – the problem is that we judge ourselves and others by appearance at all. I know, I know. That's just part of our nature. There's probably something primal about it, stemming from species survival and breeding and whatnot. It's long past time to use our big brains and open our hearts to one another, rather than killing ourselves and harming others with judgement and criticism. Thank you again.

  33. Hullabaloo says:

    Why are we even discussing what a real woman is? All women are real, including Angelina Jolie and Madeline Albright and Michelle Bachman. I'm reminded of Dr. Freud's question: What do women want? The answer to that is, The same as men, namely, everything. We all want self-determination. Tall or short, thin or heavy, we all are in our bodies, and all our bodies are different. Go forth in peace and love.

  34. Sarah says:

    This is a good one Jen!

  35. Lori says:

    Thanks, Jennifer! I was a skinny teenager, but life and my age have made me about 30 lbs over what I consider my "ideal" weight. I'm still working on it and I suppose I always will. I fall in a funny category where I am not fat or thin, so I get comments from every end of the spectrum. I once joined a weight management group and a heavier woman than me asked why I was in the group. I told her "I know I look like some people's AFTER'' picture, but I'm my 'BEFORE' picture. The most important thing is that we strive to be healthy, and that comes in all shapes and sizes.

  36. Alex says:

    Thank you for writing this article, it was a breath of fresh air for me. I am 24, overweight my entire life, and obese according to my BMI–after losing about 60 pounds. My whole family is obese, and one of my mother's favourite tirades is talking about those "stick people" who "aren't real". I know this comes from a sense of hopelessness about her own weight, but it still makes me feel sick inside, to know that there are people–who are close to me, who directly affect my life–who judge so harshly based on looks. I want to lose more weight (though it's on the back burner for now), but I don't want to have to deal with an endless stream of commentary and judgment. I'm sorry you are subject to it as well. I hope you get more cake in the future.

    … On the plus side, this article has cemented my decision to subscribe to ElephantJournal. So, well done! ; )

    • Alex, your comment is the most thoughtful, kind, honest and inspiring one I have ever received. Thank you.
      Would it help you to know, on a different more personal note, that I have certainly not always been "skinny" and that in real life I have never went around describing myself as such? This article's goal was merely to point out that we are all real and living in our own authenticity, however different that may be.
      I was absolutely a chubby little girl. I was picked on and called names for this, not for being a "skinny" kid. I understand both ends of this spectrum more than most.
      At 24 you have the wisdom and personal insight that many people, regardless of age, never achieve. You will be fine, no matter what the scale or charts tell you.
      From my heart to yours, here's a tip, and one that prompted me to write this article in the first place:
      I have weighed (on doctors' scales, because I don't own one) the same for almost ten years. Even after giving birth, my body gravitates here. The only way that I am able to achieve what I find to be my "natural" state is by acceptance. Talk with yourself and to yourself gently, lovingly, and without judgment: like you would a beloved and tender child or your very best friend.
      On another separate note, your comment inspired an article that I submitted this morning.

      Thanks again.

  37. Chrystal says:

    It's amazing to me that in todays world it's perfectly "fine" to degrade a thin woman by saying she isn't feminine enough to have "real curves" but people better not call a curvy woman fat or overweight. I do have to admit, being a little chubby myself, that many of the woman who are like, "only real men like curves" are over weight and it's often unhealthy. Regardless, we're ALL real women, stop with the curves bullsh!t. I've been extremely thin, and I was just as much of a real woman then as I am now with a little extra meat on my bones. I just can't believe that people weight shame thin women but think that no one better dare to weight shame extra weight, because it's "something to be proud of." Most of the women who are thin work very hard, and have a lot of self control, to be thin. Most of the women who are "curvy" don't work for their size at all. They eat whatever they want and think they should have more pride than a thin woman.

    Anyway, this is a great post, and I completely agree with you.

  38. Wow hear you roar! Good for you! I agree with Robin.. We all want to exist where ever we are and we get tired of the flak from both ends.. you beeing too skinny, and me being suggested I need to quit eating junk food. That maybe I am just happy the way I am and have no medical health concerns to worry about but not to say I am trying to prove a point.

    It took me to be curvy yoga instructor to even know that both spectrum is misconcieved. Even in my advocating to love ourselves and each other where we are, I have learned to choose words that doesn't body shame anyone. I think many who has posted here and you yourself have instead of advocating against body shaming seen it as an attack. '

    It gets old from both ends of the stories. Hopefully we can all question why are we like this towards one another, own up our own stabs at others. It seems this day we are debating who is better than the other, rather than existing and knowing we are all going through something.

    Thank you for sharing your story..maybe we can jump on the band wagon to end body shaming of all shapes and sizes rather than DEFENSIVE hear me roar.

  39. Emily says:

    THANK YOU! I am thin and one of my friends posted something on facebook about real women having curves. It hurt me. Why is this ok? It's not.

  40. cequall says:

    I have to be honest and say that the article sounded a little on the "defensive" to me. I've been all of the above…from eating disordered, to thin, to heavier and thin again. Having experienced all I have to say that the societal norm is much more strongly weighted to derogatory comments for heavier women and almost exclusively praising to very thin women. And perhaps I've just been fortunate to NOT have experienced the snotty comments about thinness…but rather the many compliments..no matter how thin and "ill" I was. With that said…unkind comments to anyone are uncalled for and we need so much more love and support for one another.

  41. Laura Blues says:

    I found this article truly wonderful. Contrarily to most of these comments, I have never been thin; not overweight either, but very, very curvy. I have always struggled to fin pretty bras in my 36 F size (all the most beautiful ones come only up to C cup and sometimes not even that) and most of the nice trendy clothes do not come in my size. My teenage years were hard, because I obviously lacked the maturity to like my curves; instead, I suffered not being able to wear the pretty things that most of my friends could. I hid my body, ashamed of it, even though I never developed any sort of eating disorder. Afterwards, I developed this judgmental pride of my body. It wasn't only to enjoy showing off (yes, bragging) my full cleavage or tight jeans, it was also, indeed, feeling that I was healthier, prettier and sexier than the skinny women who have been "in fashion" for so many years. I used to say in a diminishing manner "a model type body" and to characterize it as "pre-teen boy body". I am sure that I am not the only woman with my kind of shape who developed this negative reaction as a response to the opposite trend telling us that we are "too fat". Nonetheless, I want to now apologize to you and to all the skinny women that I have looked down on for the past years and I also want to tell you how reading this has made me learn something important about myself, that I intend to change now and forever. You are so right. You are beautiful and so am I.

    • Laura, wow. This comment—and your ability to engage with a differing perspective—are wonderfully astounding. Thank you for both.

      Societal norms have more than contributed to your defensiveness about your body, and I don't think apologies are necessary. However, discovering that you deserve to be truly proud to be in the body you inhabit—no defensiveness required—is an extremely liberating realization (and one I can also relate to). Congratulations and enjoy your new-found freedom.

  42. BayAreaGal says:

    Thank you for writing this! I am so tired of naturally petite, thin women getting hated on. This is my body type. This is the body type of some of the women on my mom's side. I do not starve myself, and I'm the furthest from eating "clean". I watch what I eat, but allow myself chocolate chip cookies daily. I have a pooch on my lower stomach because I just do. I don't lose sleep about it. I am about 100 lbs, give or take, and I have untoned parts and stretch marks. At 46, I really don't give a rats ass. Actually I have a rats ass. I have been bullied, accused of anorexia, and have been called Karen Carpenter. I consider myslef a beginner at yoga, and I am not very bendy. I have the tightest hamstrings West of the Mississippi. I don't do cardio because I hate it, bit I also don't want to burn calories. I want to retain the ass I have, so it doesn't look like a complete pancake. Again , I don't lose sleep over it. I just wish people would get off the asses of thin folks. We did not make the awful stereotypes the media shows. We have been walking on egg shells when Facebook posts make their rounds of "real women have curves". Sorry, I have mini curves, no ass, and chicken legs . . but that's okay. There's enough room on the planet for everyone.

  43. tessatito says:

    Far from offending or outraged, I adored this article. Thank you for translating how I feel. I am a naturally tall, thin woman and recovering bulimic. I am tired of being a brunt of criticism or passive aggressive compliments that are really cutting about my size. Just a I do not judge overweight or obese women, I ask to be afforded the same respect. No I'm not throwing up after meals, yes I eat often and well, I eat sweets, I enjoy exercise and take care of myself.

  44. carol says:

    As a thin person, I've been subjected to this my entire life. I will never forget the lunchroom with a co-worker 20 years ago, who said to my face across the table full of people, "I hate you, you're so skinny". I was speechless. Oddly, she was also a friend. I can't imagine ever saying that to anyone, no matter what their size. If someone would have said "I hate you, you're so fat" to a co-worker, hr would have been all over it.

  45. Jody says:

    Thank you for this post. I am a five foot height, barely-a-buck-five weight if im lucky to cross that line, and i get hated on so much from other women. I love my yogic body which i have created and maintained with hard work, but no one on the street would know how much i have broken the causal chain of weight distress and chronic disease in my family. But regardless, discrimination against ANY weight size is just a waste of time.

  46. Maria Laura Aguayo says:

    You have no idea how much I appreciate your article. I’ve always been skinny, I’ve never had to watch what I eat but I do eat as healthy as I can, and I am grateful for that, but you wouldn’t believe all the crap I took growing up, I heard it all. For some insane reason people think it’s ok to make fun of the skinny girls when it is as wrong as calling somebody names for being fat. It is NEVER ok to judge.

  47. Juniper says:

    Thank you for this article!
    I've been naturally thin all my life, and no matter how much I eat (i LOVE organic, grass-fed whipping cream and butter and eat large quantities daily), I can't seem to get any curvier. Most of the women I see in mainstream media–large or small–still seem to have substantial breasts, which can make a narrow woman like myself feel inadequate. I love the rest of my body (I have a fantastic butt!), and I'm learning to be more confident about my breasts, but it can be hard to get past the concept that ''real women MUST have curves.'' I know that the most important thing is that I'm happy and healthy, no matter what anyone else thinks of my body. Power and love to ALL the world's women; no matter our shapes, sizes, chromosomes, or decorations, WE ARE ALL REAL.

  48. carole elaine says:

    Great. You’re skinny. Naturally. Most women are not so ‘fortunate’.

    I, too, am naturally thin, not skinny. If I eat fairly well (with a focus on non processed local food) and practice yoga 5-7 times a week, I am also fit. In our fucked up society, I am ‘lucky’. I’ve been skinny-skinny -in high school then I was also obsessed with food and exercise. Not fun.

    Do I ever point out to my heavier friends who go on walks with me, dine with me, yoga with me…basically live similar lifestyles but carry 20-40 more lbs on their frames? No.

    Because I know I am fortunate in today’s society. I am lucky to have to do less and maintain society’s preferred shape from not trying too hard. I don’t need to shout it from the rooftops and blogosphere.

    My friends would be deeply offended if I touted my ‘natural skinny’ over their shapes. I care that my friends are mentally, physically and emotionally well.

    Here’s your gold star for being skinny ⭐️. There are so many more important issues to discuss. Why another ‘Oh poor me I’m skinny and it’s not my fault’ articles, elephant? As a thin girl, I think it’s bragging and showing off to emphasize my size. I am LUCKY, so are you. My heavier, fit friends who take excellent care of their well-being are tired of hearing your skinny comments.

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