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We don’t expect skinny girls to be compassionate; in fact we teach them they don’t have to be

When I was growing up, I was called “bird legs.” I’d pop in the kitchen for a snack about twenty times per day, but never really sat down for a meal. I played sports 1-2 hours in the afternoons. In high school, I had the Jennifer Anniston hair.

For awhile, I was a “popular girl.” I could’ve benefitted from a Tina-Fey-style “Self Esteem Workshop,” like the one in the cult classic Mean Girls. “Who here has been personally victimized by the writer of this piece?” Hands would’ve been in the air, it would’ve been awkward.

It wasn’t until after high school, when I realized what food really is (antidepressant? love? worth? social glue? All of the above!), that I noticed a vital difference in how society treats “fat” girls and “skinny” girls.

*This is not to say that all skinny girls are assholes — just that being a skinny girl makes it much easier to get away with being an asshole.

I’ve never felt all that bad about gaining weight, and since the initial gain, I’ve lost and gained probably hundreds of pounds. I’m in a place now (most days) where balance and wellness mean more than pounds and inches.

The point is: fat girls are taught to be compassionate, nice, thoughtful, and tolerant while skinny girls are taught to get away with as much as they can, while they can.

Why is this? The answer will depress you. Subconsciously, society is telling bigger girls that they’ll never be able to keep a man based on looks alone. When competing against skinny girls for the pool of the same men, you’ll need to have a secret weapon: a personality.

The differences in how we treat the two archetypes—in the classroom, in movies, in our families—are almost imperceptible. That doesn’t mean they aren’t lasting and impactful.

At 20 years old, I was a former skinny girl whose actions would no longer be tolerated in the big girl body I was growing into. Getting free drinks? No longer an option. Free appetizers sent to the table? A thing of the past. Skipping to the front of the line and sliding in in front of a cute boy? That won’t fly here.

But why? Why can’t I continue being rude and inconsiderate? The short answer: because fewer people want to have sex with you.

Gaining weight was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It forced me to look at myself and my actions and realize that I was acting like a selfish, spoiled, entitled person. It forced me to look inside myself and begin to build something of substance.

Part of that journey is atoning for past sins and actually becoming a nice person. Do the work. Feel the feels. Understand that your actions do impact others and make a concerted effort to do no harm.

It means realizing that the man crossing the street coming towards you isn’t coming to rape you because you’re so hot and he can’t control himself; his car battery is dead and he needs a jump. (No, not that kind of jump.)

It means understanding that you’re no better than anyone else standing outside the club. It’s really wrapping your mind around the fact that the universe does not give a shit about you—you have to be the hero of this story.

Another good thing about becoming a nice person is now you get to be seen as an equal—someone who is capable of helping jump the car/change the tire/fetch the gas/mow the lawn etc. You are no longer able to be a participant in your own helplessness.

It makes me want to eat a few extra pretzels for the girls who will never learn this. You know the ones. In a restaurant you’ll overhear, “This isn’t what I ordered, I expect a free dessert,” or “Can we please be sat in a window where there’s better lighting?”

Waiters scowl, drivers sneer, the word “bitch” is uttered quietly and with purpose. Many women’s entire lives have been spent skating by on their looks, never having to dive deeper than surface level. It leads to a very unsatisfying existence, and lots of very unhappy women.

Men, you play a part in this too. How can you help? Oh I’m so glad you asked. While tiny waists and big boobs are always nice, a few other characteristics to consider when choosing a mate might be: kindness, altruism, intelligence…you get the jist. Let these qualities be “must haves,” not just “nice to haves.”

When pretty, skinny girls try to pull rude, selfish crap, call them on it. Dads, I’m looking at you, too. If she truly is “Daddy’s Little Girl,” then you want her to actively participate in the world, not just passively judge everyone and everything. This means teaching her how to be a deep, thoughtful person.

My advice to the ladies is this: gain a few pounds, see the world for what it is and your role in it. Sure, it’s nice having things done for you, things bought for you, decisions made for you… but, then you’re just living as an extension of someone else. And that’s not a real life is it?

The world needs more nice people, and if you have to get fat to become a better person then I say start pounding blocks of butter to your heart’s content.

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