The word “skinny” is threatening the body image of a whole generation of our kids. It’s actually not the word itself but how “skinny” is used to market clothes. I was doing back-to-school shopping recently with my two daughters and it hit me in one store when they had the jeans on the wall… only two styles front and center… “skinny” and if that wasn’t skinny enough… “super skinny”.
Yes, people have been quick to point out to me online.. “skinny” describes the style of the jeans not the size of the jeans. Others have called me the “poor dad” in that disparaging voice that I must be clueless because I am a dad and a guy and clearly don’t know the difference between style and size. I get it. But do THEY. Why do you think retailers are using the word “skinny” in the first place? Because it sells.
Merriam-Webster defines the word skinny as “very thin, emaciated” and I worry that’s the image we’re giving our kids. If you’re thin, you’re in…
Google the word skinny. See what comes up: super thin pictures of people… and websites celebrating super thin people and the diets that got them that way. Now, many of the biggest retailers are selling “skinny”… there are even whole brands of skinny jeans promising to make you look thinner. That’s no accident.
What message is it sending to our girls -and boys too for that matter- that the only trendy and stylish clothes right now are the skinny ones. I grew up shopping for husky jeans. I’ve always been a bigger guy. Long ago I stopped finding clothes in certain stores which intentionally only carry clothes up to a certain waist size. And yes I did a major crash diet in high school just hoping to finally make it out of the husky section. For a while, I did. I lost 40 pounds in two months… and likely did irreparable harm to myself in the process. So for the folks who just call me some dumb dad, trust me, it’s personal.
Research shows as many as half a million teens suffer from eating disorders. Eating disorders lurk out there as people keep striving for these unattainable body images. I’m not suggesting the styles should be changed… I’m not suggesting people stop shopping at those stores… I AM suggesting we may want to rethink how we label and sell clothes in this country. What’s wrong with jeans labeled in a way that doesn’t play on body stereotypes… in a way that is realistic and true.
People will still find the right fit, people can still be fashionable and stylish, even if it’s not marked skinny.
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