It was just a few days ago that I was texting a friend and used, “She was giving me Monique ’skinny bitches are evil’ vibes,” to describe a former colleague and my failure to understand why someone I only interacted with via e-mail and social media most days seemed to always have an attitude with me. It’s something every skinny girl experiences at one point or another. You walk into a room of “pleasantly plump” women who aren’t that pleasant. And let me be clear, not for one second do I think all big girls are bitches who have issues with or want to be skinny mini’s. But the ones that do seem to be mentally chanting affirmations like “More cushion for the pushin’” and you can instantly feel the hate slapping you across the face like when someone’s bad breath singes your nostril hairs. It used to be that we could blame the media, cosmetics companies and men for these strict beauty standards that habitually have women defending everything from the arch of their eyebrow to their metabolism, but thanks to the gift of social media we can now take our mean girl attitudes to the internet and insult each other as entertainment for the masses.
I love a good, dark, cut throat joke as much as the next person. When Bette Midler clapped back at Kim Kardashian last week, I had a chuckle or two because it seemed like Bette was coming from a genuine place of comedy and not from a place where she too wished she could black bar her tig ol’ bitties for the Gram. See, the thing about comedy is that even some pretty grave offenses can be forgiven if the joke itself is funny as hell. And I’m sorry, Julie Klausner, you’re not funny. If anything, you seem kind of bitter and a tad bit envious.
If you’re anything like me and hesitant to stan for any comedian that doesn’t begin with “Mindy” and end with “Kaling”, you might be like, “Julie, who?” Klausner is a comic and the star and creator of the Hulu show Difficult People. When Disney star Zendaya took to the stage this past weekend to accept her Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Star, while we are were all listening to her give a heartfelt speech about inspiring young women, Klausner apparently couldn’t wait to pick apart her appearance (which by the way, my girl ‘Daya was slaying…all day…all night…all damn weekend). Klausner tweeted:
“Zendaya’s ultimate retort to Giuliana Rancic is starving herself down to the size of one of her elbowz.”
“You don’t have to have an eating disorder to attend the Kids’ Choice Awards….but it helps!”
Needless to say, Klausner received a lot of backlash for jumping on the body-shaming bandwagon and even got a little clapback from Zendaya herself who tweeted:
“Do you find this funny? I will write another paragraph to educate you aswell #youreallywannabenext?”
My initial response?
1. I still don’t know who the fuck Julie Klausner is but her Twitter is giving me Amy Shumer vibes (you know the girl Hollywood is presently forcing us to find funny) and she’s about as funny as an ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan on piano.
2. It’s NEVER a good look when a grown ass woman comes for a teenager. It just always makes them look bitter and like they start off all drunken conversations with, “Back in my twenties I was so damn skinny.”
But what bothered me about this whole messy exchange what the fact that Klausner attempted to use some sort of half-assed concern for the health of young women to defend what seemed to be a display of her own insecurities:
“I will never stop criticizing celebs who perpetuate dangerous beauty standards for a generation of girls who grow up thinking they’re fat.”
Since when did anyone with a Twitter handle and over five minutes of fame become an authority on health and wellness? It was only a few weeks ago, model Cheryl Tiegs threw a whole Sherwood forest of shade towards cover girl, Ashley Graham for representing “Team Thickness” on the cover of the latest Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
“I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women, because it’s glamorizing them, because your waist should be smaller than 35 (inches),” the former Sports Illustrated cover girl model expressed at a pre-Oscar arty a few weeks ago, “That’s what Dr. Oz said, and I’m sticking to it.”
I’m sorry, but are any of these people undercover M.D.’s testing these ladies’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels? How the hell can you look at someone and make an accurate assumption about how healthy they are? “Healthy” looks different on every woman and something tells me Klausner’s jokes were more about a moment of self-hate and less about any actual concern about Zendaya’s health or that 13-year-old who is a size 10 and contemplating starving herself after watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show.
Look, it’s Klausner’s Twitter and she can do whatever she wants with it and if we don’t like it, we all have the option to unfollow. Klausner was quick to remind fans that she would not be backpedaling or deleting any tweets and that everything was said in good fun. Body-shaming celebs being the go to punchline for a few retweets is one thing, but every evil thought that passes through your brain doesn’t need to be shared. Who hasn’t had a mean-spirited thought after being bombarded by images on the daily of rich and famous celebs with perfectly constructed hip to waist ratios. Every time I see a fifty word article about Kylie Jenner’s new hair color I can feel an insult rising with the bile in the back of my throat, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be tweeted, no matter how funny I think it may be. Especially when what you tweet speaks more volumes on how you view yourself more than your concern with the well-being of other women.
Skinny-girl shame isn’t more acceptable by default because we feel it gives us an excuse to attack America’s narrow standards of beauty in defense of girls who feel awkward because Forever 21 considers them plus size. Being 5’2” and weighing 120 lbs. doesn’t mean I sail through life on a parade float of acceptance and admiration every day. I’ve honestly had women ask me in disbelief why I’d opt for a one piece over a thong bikini on the beach or remind me to clean my plate as if being thin grants me an all-access pass to high self-esteem that allows me to take low-brow Twitter comments and criticism on the chin. Shaming thin girls doesn’t magically uplift curvy girls everywhere. That’s not how it works. Instead of obsessing over the circumference of Zendaya’s forearm and who does or doesn’t want to look like her, why don’t we celebrate her confidence and the fact that there ARE women who actually like themselves whether they are a size 2 or a size 12.
If there’s more to to be offended by than comments about someone’s size, it’s the attack on another woman’s”moment”. In her book, “Why Not Me?” my favorite comedian, Mindy Kaling makes a profound observation about the conflict that comes with being a confident female, “The scary thing I’ve noticed is that some people feel really uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.” And I think that what bothered me the most; the fact that Klausner wasn’t just attacking another women’s waist size, but her moment of confidence. It’s a struggle for most women to like themselves in a world that makes it’s a daily mission to convince us not to and we should stop assuming that just because WE think a woman is beautiful means that SHE feels the same way each and everyday or takes the moments when she does feel like she’s kicking the world’s ass for granted. Whether we are accepting an award on national television, posing butt naked in a bathroom mirror, or finally found a pair of jeans that makes us feel like Beyonce’ strutting on the sidelines of an NBA game, every woman deserves a purely untainted moment where she feels like she is unapologetically the shit. One of the worst things we can do as fellow women is fuck with any moment a woman is truly feeling herself. Because those moments for too many of us are far and few.