“You Are So Tiny!” Is NOT A Compliment (+ It’s Dangerous)

By Alexis Wolfer

I was just perusing Facebook and stumbled upon a picture of a friend.

In it, she looks beautiful (as always).

In it, she looks petite (as always).

The comment below, however, (from a friend of the friend, I imagine), read “You are so tiny!” (Exclamation point included.)

I’m pretty sure she meant “tiny” to mean “skinny” – and that this was (of course) a compliment.

But when did being “small” become a good thing?

(Oh wait, when we’re talking about weight it’s always less is more, huh? Well, until you’re starving yourself to weigh.just.one.pound.less. because your worth depends on it…)

But really, why is smaller better when we’re talking about women? (And yes, it’s only when we’re talking about women.) Small – which connotes weakness, lack of strength, etc. And is it a reflection of a larger patriarchal paradigm designed to minimize women and shrink their value (literally)? I think so.

Make women small and they’re not a threat. (And not just because you literally reduce their mental and physical strength and power in the process.)

Promote a culture that celebrates skinny at all costs and women shrink.

They begin to measure their self worth by their weight and, even more problematically (if there can be something more problematic than that) they begin to act on it. A culture of eating disorders and body obsessions ensues. And the ramifications are profound. We not only have shrinking waistlines. Rather, we also limit women’s ability to flourish in any other aspect of their lives.

In starving her body, we starve her worth, her ability to contribute to society and  her value.

But back to the Facebook comment. In it, the assumption is this: tiny is good, tinier is better. It’s a recipe for eating disorders. It’s a recipe for shrinking women. It’s a recipe for disaster.

So please, pretty please, don’t ever say that to anyone. Ever. And definitely don’t write it on Facebook. Because not only does the girl read “I look skinny (yay!)” she also likely reads it as you saying she looked “big” before and that if she were “tinier” she would look even better. Moreover, when you post something like this on Facebook(or say it in a crowded room) the other girls reading or listening not only hear how greatly you value weight but also play a potentially deadly game of compare and contrast.

Or at least that’s how I heard/read comments like that when I was sick with an eating disorder.

That holds for naturally “petite” women as well as women of all other shapes and sizes.

Let’s celebrate beauty in all shapes, sizes, colors and ways and stop commenting on women’s bodies. Ever.

(Just because tabloids do it doesn’t make it right… if all your friends jumped off a bridge…)