The Fat-Shaming of Kate Upton; or Why I'll Never Buy The Difference Between "Thinspiration" And "Pro-Ana" Websites Michelle Konstantinovsky

Kate Upton is fat, everyone.

True, the stunning 20-year-old somehow managed to sneak under the vigilant radar of the Skinny Police and land the cover of Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition, but clearly this honor was undeserved, if not accidental.

Because if we’re to believe the truly motivating, encouraging words of the anonymous, “thinspirational” blogger behind a website called Skinny Gossip, Upton looks “thick, vulgar, almost pornographic” (assuming these are negative physical qualities? I think I know a few men and women who would gladly ogle a body fitting that criteria). Upton appears “lazy,” and “lardy,” has “huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition,” and “looks like a squishy brick” (which is a comparison that perhaps stretches the appropriate boundaries of proper simile usage). She’s likened to both a cow and a pig and the post itself is titled “Kate Upton is Well-Marbled.”

Feeling inspired yet?

If you, like me, feel more inclined to curl up into a ball and cry over this kind of casual cruelty, then perhaps you take issue with the term “thinspiration” as well.

It’s tricky to define thinspiration properly without performing an extensive internet search, and innocently typing the term into Google turns up all sorts of results I don’t care to see. But for the sake of clarity, some definitions are in order:

Thinspiration or “thinspo” as the kids call it, involves the use of “motivational” imagery or sayings to supposedly inspire people to achieve or maintain thinness. While some of the popular “encouraging” phrases seem harmlessly health-conscious, others ooze masochistic self-flagellation.

“Do not reward yourself with food. You’re not a dog,” says one particularly uplifting Pinterest message cited on Jezebel and the classic “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” mantra could practically serve as thinspirational sacred text. The images range from thin runway models to skinny celebrities to skeletal girls and women, some of whom have received some Photoshop treatment, and some, undoubtedly and disconcertingly, have not.

So what, pray tell, is a “pro-ana” website? In an effort to “promote anorexia” (get it?), pro-ana sites often feature thinspiration but also endorse behaviors typically associated with eating disorders, sharing tips for starving, vomiting, or abusing laxatives. Some sites claim to provide a safe, non-judgmental haven for those suffering from eating disorders, while others seek to spin disordered behaviors into positive lifestyle choices.

Here’s where things get tricky. If anorexia truly is a mental disorder (which it is, according to the psychological bible known as the DSM IV), and not just a convenient shorthand for one’s physiological and behavioral state, then how can some silly little websites be held responsible for anyone’s disease?

If you ask our anonymous blogger friend who tore Kate Upton to pieces, they can’t be. At least her site can’t be. In a blog posted shortly after the fallout of Uptongate, the blogger (who claimed to have received death and rape threats for her harsh words) bristles at the suggestion that Skinny Gossip is indeed pro-ana. “Anorexia is not mere dieting,” she writes, “It is not striving for a certain look or to fit into a certain piece of clothing” and “calling every skinny person anorexic doesn’t do sick people any favors.”

And she’s right. But she also notes that her site is built on a community “where we prefer the skinny look, but not at the cost of health.” Oh, really? If health is of the utmost concern here, then maybe it was sheer, selfless consideration for Upton’s cholesterol and blood pressure levels that inspired the snarky post?

Let’s imagine for a moment that Upton’s reaction to the venomous post was to starve herself to the point of amenorrheic emaciation. She’d be sick but less offensively “fat.” Would sacrificing her health in favor of avoiding callous criticism mean crossing the line into anorexic territory? Would she then be chastised for stepping over the boundary between thinspiration and pro-ana?

The problem is that the boundary doesn’t exist, and if it does, it’s been worn away to the point of irrelevance, thanks to sites like Skinny Gossip. Say what you will about the importance of motivation and support for those seeking to drop a few pounds, but what we read on the Kate Upton post was pure, unadulterated body-shaming and uncensored animosity that had nothing to do with building a supportive community. But the blogger isn’t wrong when she claims she can’t take responsibility for inciting anyone’s eating disorder, because eating disorders are the results of complex interactions of genetic and environmental factors…right?

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  1. [...] response to the statements made about Upton, blogger Michelle Konstantinovsky argues that this “fat-shaming” is one more way that “thinspiration” and “pro-ana” show [...]

  2. Ms. Upton is drop-dead gorgeous, and if she puts on 10 or 15 pounds, she’ll still be drop-dead gorgeous. If she’s fat, then fat is what I wanna be. All her curves are in the right places.

    “Skinny” or “fat” are not what defines sexy. Sexy is healthy, confident and proportional. Look at Queen Latifah – a larger size than Kate Upton, but still perfectly proportioned, still gorgeous. There is no one “perfect” size.

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  4. WHO IS TO SAY WHAT IS ATTRACTIVE SIZE WISE ANYWAY. I WOULD RATHER HAVE A WOMAN EATING AND HEALTHY AND HAPPY. SO IF A MODEL WANTS TO EAT THAT CUPCAKE OR TWO IT’S OKAY. MODELS THAT ARE TOO SKINNY LOOK EMACIATED AND UNHEALTHY ANYWAY. THAT IS NOT APPEALING OR SEXY TO ME AND IT SHOULDN’T BE TO OTHERS EITHER!!! ANYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE SHOULD HAVE THEIR HEADS EXAMINED!!! KATE UPTON IS VERY BEUATIFUL AND SEXY!!! SO DON’T LISTEN TO THE HATERS KATE,I LOVE YOU!!! YOU KNOW THERE IS AN OLD SAYING ANYWAY “BONE IS FOR THE DOG AND MEAT IS FOR THE MAN!!!”

  5. [...] confused with the awesome Nancy Upton, but I digress.) Lately, Kate Upton has been torn apart by bloggers for being too fat, having “huge” thighs, [...]

  6. [...] read this Hello Giggles article in response to a hateful post on a blog called “Skinny Gossip.” Naturally curious, I [...]

  7. I can’t write much right now, as I broke my wrist and it takes forever to write just a few words. I’ll let this link speak for itself. I posted this on my site 3 weeks ago, just before that Skinny Gossip went viral with its vitriol:

    http://survivorofdespair.com/command.html

  8. Erm… I think I love you!x

  9. Thank you so much. I was reading Skinny Gossip’s page and though I was disgusted by what she wrote, I found it even more disheartening to read the 11 pages of people agreeing and feeding the fire. It’s sad that people truly live their lives compulsively counting calories and ripping other women’s bodies apart just to feel better about themselves. It’s hard enough being a girl without the unnecessary pressure to be today’s standard of skinny as it gets smaller and smaller.

  10. Nice post. It’s scary when the perspectives of someone who’s very ill with a life-threatening disease (anorexia) comes so close to the opinions offered in mainstream society.

    To those who commented on the “obesity epidemic,” please know that dieting is the number-one predictor of obesity. Weight cycling (dieting to lose weight, regaining it and then some) causes obesity. If we practiced self-acceptance from the start, we’d all be a lot healthier, physically and psychologically.

    –Harriet Brown
    Author, BRAVE GIRL EATING: A FAMILY’S STRUGGLE WITH ANOREXIA
    harrietbrown.com

  11. Thank you, Michelle.

  12. There are millions of people starving in the world as we read this article. Millions of people who have to fight for food.

    I don’t know if there really are pro-ana websites out there. I don’t know if skinny gossip is really trying to make things less hurtful.

    I am a skinny girl. I am made to feel guilty when I don’t eat because it’s unhealthy when really I’m just too lazy to cook.

    I don’t think I will ever be a bigger girl. It’s not in my genetics.

    But to call someone out for being a bigger girl. For eating. For having fun. That is what breeds discontent.

    I read her ‘some changes’ article about how hard it is for skinny girls to be called skinny but the fat girls never get called fat. The only difference between the two is that skinny girls get called skinny to their face while the fat girls get bitched about behind their back and made to feel disgusting.

    Why can’t people just accept other people for who they are? Why can’t we all just get a little perspective and realise that it isn’t someone’s size that determines their worth?

    For some reason this article just really pissed me off.

    I have been told my whole life that I must be skinny because I want to be sexy. And when I gain weight I get called fat when really I look healthy and happy.

    Kate Upton has boobs so she must be fat but I don’t have boobs so I must automatically have a complex.

    Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.

  13. Personally I think Kate Upton is beautiful. I think that what is so concerning about this story isn’t the poison that “pro-Ana” websites preach but is the hatred that some women feel for other women. I personally don’t think that there is a blueprint for beautiful. I think it’s possible to be beautiful at any size or shape. Though I would say that that almost all the people I have ever seen in this world that I would describe as beautiful appear to be enjoying life, which the author of this piece on “Thinspiration” certainly doesn’t seem to be.

  14. You know, it just occurred to me how sad this is, because one day we’ll all be skeletons in the ground and we’ll all be the same body type.

    Will we get over it then?

    :(

    Can we all hug now and get over it?

  15. What’s super hilarious is that Kate upton apparently has a 25″ waist when standard models generally have a 24″ waist…Kate just has bigger boobs. To which, as we all know, big boobs = super fat and gross…according to anyone who is completely entranced with western media.

  16. kate upton is a gorgeous woman!!! it makes me sad to see how downhill our society has fallen we find pride in looking like a skeletal closes rack and i know guys ogle at these woman but in reality they dont want a skeleton they want a women and those that deny or dont are dogs who will live a very lonely life. it’s important to find positive healthy role models and kate has just made it to that list

  17. Kate Upton is a stunner! I’ve never come across anything like SkinnyGossip before, but I have to say it was incredibly disheartening reading some of the stuff on there. I’ve recently gone on a bit of a health kick, because I carry a little extra weight around my middle, ate too much chocolate and drank nothing but fizzy juice – I didn’t want to be that person anymore, and I turned to the internet for inspiration, and it’s going brilliantly! I’ve never felt better about myself! I just find it incredibly sad that some girls (and boys, no doubt) feel the need to turn to places like this in order to feel content with themselves. Does it highlight a lack of resources out in the real world? It’s all fine and well joining a gym, but I joined with a friend and not everyone has that opportunity. It’s a lot easier to sit at your computer and slander other people, but at the end of the day it’s nothing short of bullying, and no amount of that is ever going to truly make you feel better.

  18. People are cruel. Unfortunately, that is life. I can’t go to the movie theatre without someone making fun of the way I walk. I lost my leg at birth, so I’ve had a prosthetic my whole life. Insecure immature people will ALWAYS find something to make fun of someone for. You just have to find out how to love yourself and what makes you comfortable, and surround yourself with those who love you just the same. In the end, who cares what any stranger on some random site thinks? Kate Upton is rolling around in her piles of cash laughing at those calling her fat. And vice versa to any *thinner* model who has to deal with people telling her to eat a sandwich.

    With that being said, the most upsetting thing I found on the website were men commenting anonymously about their girlfriends and wives. “I’m so glad you posted this! My wife has gained weight after our last child and hasn’t gotten rid of it. She says she feels beautiful but it grosses me out and I don’t know what to do!” I don’t even know how to process these comments. There are so many things wrong with what’s happening there. If I found out my husband was going onto sites like these to join gaggles of mean girls to bash me and other women, I’d cut his throat! What a sad excuse for a man. And a father. But I don’t have to worry about that because my husband is the sweetest, most precious man who is madly in love with me. Or is he? Maybe the wives and girlfriends of these men think that very same thought. This man could currently be telling his wife how beautiful she is, while simultaneously typing those insults on his iPhone.

    Girls are always going to be cruel to one another. But I fear when those you love and trust the most are joining in on it. My husband can drool over Kate Upton all he wants and day dream about her at work all he likes. Hell, maybe I’ll do the same (she is painfully beautiful after all!). Just as long as he’s not secretly vomiting at the thought of touching me and Googling message boards where he’s free to make fun of me and complain about it with mean 13 year old girls.

  19. I don’t know why other people’s bodies are any of my business, or why people think it is okay to publicly comment on them. Pro or against – why can’t we just mind our own plates? It’s not your body, why should it be so important or interesting to you that someone is emaciated or overweight, unless you are involved in his/her direct medical care?

  20. Connect with FacebThat Skinny Gossip website is disgusting, it made me soooo angry! The comments on there are pure evil. Yeah its good to have a healthy lifestyle but that doesnt mean you have be so vicious against people who are slightly bigger and different. Had to stop myself from ranting on there as I think they actually enjoy arguing and being controversial. ook to post a comment