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Be skinnier than all your friends

August 6, 2012

I’ve already blogged about how ‘thin’ seems to have become a term of approval for women, supplanting ‘slim’ or ‘slender’ – but surely ‘skinny’ is a step too far? Is there now no term of disapprobation if a woman is too thin? At Walthamstow Central Station there is a poster for some awful diet book with the shoutline ‘Be skinnier than all your friends!’ I find this loathsome in a number of ways. In the first place it’s a logically impossible promise to deliver to the public at large, anyway – how can everyone be skinnier than all their friends? More seriously, why would anyone want to be? It sounds a completely undesirable ambition to me – like saying ‘Be weaker than all your friends’, or ‘Be uglier than all your friends’, or ‘Be stupider than all your friends’. And even if one granted that being skinny was a good thing, which I do not, the promise implies an unhealthy, competitive ideal of friendship – as if one only wanted a certain body-shape in order to score over one’s friends and make them envious.

The same ad also promises ‘thin thighs’, which to me sounds about as enticing as promising flat breasts or crooked teeth or puny biceps or curvature of the spine. Thighs are not supposed to be thin. Who, except an anorexic or a human skeleton in a traveling carnival, would want thin thighs?

I hope no one buys this man’s stupid diet book, the name of which I have deliberately avoided remembering. 

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  1. Actually Carys & I were talking about the same advertisement. I didn’t clock the rest, but I do remember thinking thin thighs sounded dreadfully unhealthy & unsexy.
    Anyway, being skinnier than all your friends is easy – just only make friends with people fatter than you are to begin with, if that’s what you want.

    • That couldn’t work for everyone, though – assuming that friendship is two-way.

      • No, of course. But I assume most people aren’t actually interested in being skinnier than all their friends.

      • No, and nor should they be, and that is largely the point of the blog post. But I also wanted to point out that the promise fails even on its own terms: even if being skinny was universally desirable (which it isn’t), you can’t coherently promise to everyone that that they will be skinnier than all their friends.

  2. The tagline makes the assumption that the only thing that matters to a woman is how thin she is, above friendships and anyting else important to a healthy, well-balanced life. It plays on insecurities that a handful of the female population have, who will probably be sucked into buying the book, and only goes on to feed their insecurities. Maybe the author will bring out another book called ‘How to be skinnier than yourself’, by which point his audience will have perished from starvation and he will have no readers left. It is sad that the publisher is pushing this kind of thing but plenty of people buy into the skinny means success myth and there is plenty of money to be made out of their delusion. If it’s the OMG diet book you are talking about, or any other fad eating plan for that matter, then those that try it will probably end up weighing more than when they started anyway, as most normal people know that diets don’t work long term.
    Nice one Brandon, glad I am now your friend on facebook so I can keep abreast of your blog posts. How about a game of rounders to keep the pounds off?

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