Slender arms, flat tummy, graceful legs and angular cheekbones. So often, these are features portrayed within media and entertainment as the ideal. Most people seem to know and understand that, while many seem to ignore an underlying issue; society often portrays “skinny” as the norm; the default of happy and healthy. If you are thin, you should be happy right?
Kelly Clarkson, American Idol’s Season 1 winner, brought the issue to light in some recent tweets addressing how she felt when she was at her thinnest, which it turns out she wasn’t feeling very happy at all; but it wasn’t because of her weight.
This came about with Clarkson taking to Twitter to clarify comments published in Attitude Magazine, which quoted her as saying “When I was really skinny I wanted to kill myself, I was miserable, like inside and out, for four years of my life. But no one cared, because aesthetically you make sense.”
Clarkson’s tweets clarified that being unhappy caused by her efforts to stay thin, but rather the result of it, also clarifying that she never was suicidal because of her weight.
In response to the tweets claiming Clarkson was suicidal she said, “I’ve never contemplated suicide because of my weight. I said people had no idea I was unhappy oddly enough because I appeared healthy.”
That last part is what really stood out to me. It took me back to my first year of college. During that time in my life, I was at a university that I did not really fit in or enjoy, and as a result of that I was miserable there. I lost a ton of weight because of how I felt, but like Clarkson, no one was the wiser because I looked “good.”
Society’s default is if you are thin, so you must be healthy and you must be happy. I don’t know why media pushes that- at the weight I was then, I was far too skinny for my height and body-type, and the last year or so, 15-20 pounds heavier, my body is a LOT healthier and my mental health is a LOT happier.
I think it is important to think this way for many different body types. Society is quick to judge the bodies of those who are heavier, but sometimes fails to realize “skinny” can be unhealthy too. For some reason, we are taught through media and celebrities this vicious cycle to follow, one that tells up that we can be happy if we get skinny, but if we are skinny we can’t feel unhappy.
Women and men need to reject what media tells us is the norm for body image and find what fits their own lifestyle and body type the best. Society as a whole needs to stop putting so much weight, pun intended, on people’s weight!
Meridith King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org