It's been hard to miss over the last couple of weeks, the fact that Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has been in the firing line for being 'too thin'. Alan Sugar fired the first shot by stating it as a fact which, following a big debate about it on Twitter subsequently led to Cheryl writing an open letter about it. There has even been a plea for people to donate £2 to ensure that Cheryl gets a sandwich this Christmas, and call it a joke, call it concern, call it what you want, what it is, is body shaming.
But it's not the body shaming that we have become accustomed to, no, these particular body shamers are a different breed entirely, these ones are snotty and self righteous and they sort of feel that they can get away with it because really, they believe their comments stem from concern.
Now, for the record, I do think that Cheryl is very thin, but there is a difference between acknowledging this and shouting from the roof tops that she is 'too' anything. I, of course, do have concerns that she is a role model for a lot of young women and that she is not necessarily promoting a healthy body image but you know what... there's not much I can do about it.
Cheryl has a naturally small frame and clearly she loses weight when she is under a lot of pressure, and actually the masses are probably right when they say that she hasn't got the figure that young girls should be aspiring to, not least of all because, and I'm sorry to say, she doesn't look particularly happy or healthy at the moment.
But that said, is it really any of our places to make judgements and say that she is TOO thin? Is it fuck.
There are really, only a select number of people that you can say are getting too thin to and just about get away with it:
i) Your friends, close friends, if and only if it is clear that they are going through something and that weight is becoming an issue for them. It is still only appropriate to comment if you genuinely believe that you are not only being constructive, but that you can in fact help them.
ii) A family member if you are sure that you are going about your observations in all the right ways.
iii) Your children's role models but only if you are saying it out of genuine concern because you believe their body is going to directly affect the life of someone that you know. You still need to air on the side of caution with this one and make sure that you are being kind.
I appreciate how incredibly difficult this is because it's true you don't necessarily want your daughter, sister or yourself to be aspiring to someone so seemingly unhealthy BUT, nothing good ever comes from telling someone that they are too thin.
Here's what happens when you tell someone this:
i) They will agree with you. This happens when the person that you are telling is having a problem with food, this is therefore not constructive and by telling them that they are too thin they may well see this as encouragement.
ii) They are already struggling to put weight on, be it because of their bodies or their personal lives and your reminding them of this won't help.
iii) You will hurt their feelings.
Now I am a very far cry from 'too thin' but people often make the mistake of assuming that, since I've lost a lot of weight over the last year, that I must be unhealthy. This is by no means the case and if I had always been this size then no one would comment on my weight, but since I haven't, people stick their noses in wherever they can.
It's not okay to do this, it's one thing to say 'you look amazing, have you lost weight?' but to say flat out that someone is 'too thin' is actually pretty rude. Whether it stems from concern or is meant to be a compliment it's never totally appropriate as it makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable and I at least feel that I'm being criticised.
No one would dream of pulling you to one side at a party to tell you that you're 'too fat' because that would be incredibly awkward, so why do we feel that it's appropriate to pull someone aside to body shame them for being too thin?
The weight of a person, theoretically shouldn't ever be the issue, but it has become one because of our attitudes towards it. Ultimately our weight will settle at where it needs to at any given time in our lives, and there should be no drama around that, but because people have 'fat shamed' there is now the fear of being fat. And now we've started 'thin shaming' as well, you really can't win. Even if the person in question is nowhere near either, she has the constant fear of being shamed.
What we all really, really need is an attitude adjustment, weight has become a problem solely because we have made it one, if we can start looking at our behaviour and treating the 'issue' properly then the problems will ebb away.
I do worry for Cheryl and I hope that she is okay and whilst I am not sure that this is a healthy message that she is putting out I completely appreciate that this is in no way her fault. Has it even occurred to anyone that she may in fact be going through something and that really if we can try and be supportive rather know-it-all-bitchy then we might be able to help?
And who knows, the next time a young girl is struggling with her weight she might see the SUPPORT that we gave Cheryl and perhaps even feel brave enough to reach out to someone? Just a thought.