When we first started thinking about writing a rebuttal to “Big Boobs Are Overrated,” which appeared on our brother site, TFM, last week, we had a million ideas about which direction it could go in. We could have written a funny piece about how defined abs are overrated. We could have written about how while there does come a time when our boobs start sagging, there also comes a time when dudes’ hairlines recede, their six-packs turn into kegs, and their pecs morph into man boobs, so who the fuck are they to complain about saggy boobs? We could have attacked the “science” proposed in the column, which states that anyone with a D cup must have a significant amount of body fat, with pictures of our size 0 friends with DD boobs (sorry, guys–another time). Any of those would have been a perfectly fine rebuttal to that column, and they would probably have been easier to write than this one.
Looking at both TFM and TSM, there have been columns on guts, chest hair, dad bodies, big boobs, small boobs, flat asses, and big asses. Clearly, we aren’t afraid to talk about various body parts. If you scroll the contents of those articles, they generally fall into one of two categories: either self-depreciating humor, written by people who possess that particular characteristic making jokes about how “hard” it is to live with a flat ass or big boobs, or a joking depiction of a personal preference, such as ladies telling guys that we’re good with their gut and chest pelt.
When we opened the “Big Boobs Are Overrated” column, we thought it was going in the second direction–that the author would talk about his preference for our smaller-chested sisters. But instead, this column went somewhere else. When someone starts saying girls who don’t fit within his personal preferences are “tree trunks” who will “smother” you, we’ve got a problem. It’s gone too far. While it probably wasn’t the author’s intent (we hope) he went into body-shaming territory, and that’s not okay.
The fact of the matter is that a large number of both college-aged men and women in this country have serious issues when it comes to weight and body image. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.6
Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.
This isn’t a girl or boy issue. It’s an issue of decent human kindness and it’s one that we are all responsible for. Everyone is entitled to his or her own personal preferences–we all have a list of what we are attracted to and what we aren’t. But when we start publicly body-shaming people in the course of expressing our preferences, we’ve go too far. We’ve fed into the problem that causes young women and men to feel so inadequate, they begin to harm themselves. That’s something we all need to think about the next time we write a column, type a comment, or express an opinion.
If you or a friend is struggling with an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website for resources or call its helpline at 800-931-2237.