Quick hit: “You look great! Have you lost weight?”

At Shakesville, Amber Leab writes about how being too sick to gain weight – and too sick for life-saving surgery – changed her perspective on that ultimate compliment, “you’re so skinny!” For Leab, being skinny was dangerous, even as the women around her envied her for it. She observes that the culture of thinness is so powerful that it reaches all the way into the operating theater:

On the operating table, I was prepped for the procedure by a female nurse and a male doctor. When the nurse lifted the hospital gown above my abdomen, she exclaimed, “Look at that pretty flat stomach!”

I processed this statement for a moment. A medical professional had complimented me on my thinness, which was so extreme as to prevent me from having life-saving surgery, while prepping me for a procedure intended to help me gain weight.

To his credit, the doctor quickly snapped, “That’s the problem!” but her message couldn’t have been clearer.

Go read the whole thing. And remember, next time you go to compliment a person on how skinny they or how much weight they’ve lost: they might be skinny because they’re sick. And besides, their waistline is none of your goddamn business.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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