Please Stop Using 'Skinny' as Your Go-To Compliment–It's Actually Insulting

Like pretty much any female on the planet, I've at some point sported a giant grin on my face when someone referred to me as "skinny."

Whether it was actually true or not (likely untrue since I haven't been skinny since, like, 9th grade), the influence of movies, media and peers used to instill this idea in me that my level of "skinny" equated my worth or desirability. And there was no one around me to prove otherwise.

Gossip Girl: Blair and Serena laughing together

(Gossip Girl via The CW)

Fast-forward to now—and many more human encounters later—I'm learning that there are so many messed up things about calling someone "skinny." It's a word I actually despise, and one that makes me look down upon you if used.

Now, don't get me wrong. Looks are still very important to me. I want people to acknowledge if my "body looks great in that dress" or if my "arms look great in that tube top." I still value being "in shape," and there's no denying the majority of us do. I still want to look good—or better yet, amazing. Just don't call me skinny. Here's why.

1. It Has Such a Fake Association

Because of decades spent heralding "skinny" girls, it's become human nature not only to desire being skinny, but also to make someone feel special by telling them they're skinny. There's that automatic sense of approval when your name is associated with that word. But because of that, some tend to say it without thinking. It's become certain people's automatic signature greeting. It's not even like it's supposed to sound fake or genuine—it's just what some people say. A person losing weight or looking magnificent in a tight-fitting dress doesn't necessarily make them "skinny." The fact that it's the only way people know how to imply someone looks good is disheartening.

gossip girl characters in school uniforms

(Gossip Girl via The CW)


2. There's Pressure to Always Maintain That Appearance

Because the word "skinny" is associated with perfection and desirability, once people say it to you enough, you have it instilled in your mind that you must uphold this image. This drives girls to obsessively weigh themselves, abnormally monitor their eating habits and look at themselves with disgust.


3. Skinny Is a Huge Extreme

The most laughable part about all of this is that most girls aren'skinny. Now, don't get me wrong: Plenty of people are extremely fit, slender or have what's considered a "bangin' body"—but the actual number of skinny girls is minimal. In fact, the actual definition of the word, straight from the dictionary, is as follows:

a) lacking sufficient flesh : very thin : EMACIATED

b) lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities, or significance


4. It's a Negative Word Altogether

As noted above, for starters, the definition implies "emaciated," which is synonymous with malnourishment. It's not healthy. The idea of being "skinny" can be associated with under-eating, excessive working out, and typically not taking care of yourself. While by all means, it's incredibly unhealthy to be significantly overweight, being on the other extreme can be just as dangerous. It's certainly not to say that every skinny person is unhealthy (many times it's genetics or body type), but it's destructive that people feel compelled to use an extreme like "skinny," when they can, in most cases, simply say "thin."


5. There Are Far More Meaningful Compliments to Give About One's Appearance

Again, there are certainly people who just so happen to be naturally, truly skinny—and in those cases, it's only "normal" to refer to them as such. But for the majority of time, when using skinny as your generic adjective to tell someone they look good, you can use far more believable and complimentary terms.

As for me personally, please, tell me I look goodgreatamazing. That tells me I'm the whole package—body, hair, makeup, style, whatever! Tell me you love the way my outfit looks on me. That tells me not only are you eyeing my physique, but also what I'm wearing. Tell me you love my hair. That tells me that the time I took to get ready really paid off, and that there's more value to me than my body.


6. People Aren't Always 'Skinny' for the Right Reasons

Let's be honest—90% of girls revel in the idea of being called "skinny." If it's between being called skinny or fat, well, I mean there's absolutely no question… right? But that said, there are instances when it's downright inappropriate to call someone the 'S' word. There are cases of eating disorders, when skinniness becomes life-threatening. There are also cases of illness, maybe in the form of cancer or some other disease out of one's control. While you may think someone sees this term as a compliment, the fact that they're unable to gain weight may actually be a huge issue.

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