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. Such a great post! Upton is beautiful. If people think that is “fat,” I can only imagine what they think “skinny” is. Being healthy is key. Not what size pants you are and what the scale says. Completely disgusted by what was said regarding Upton.

  2. I saw the screen cap of the site and I actually felt sick.

  3. I bet the only reason the writer from thinspiration is anonymous is because she herself is probably very fat and very self conscious about it.

    • Your comment isn’t doing anything to disprove the author of SkinnyGossip’s point of view. By name calling and insinuating she’s obsessed with the thin ideal because she is fat is completely offensive. I’m my opinion, your comment and hers are parallel. We need to get rid of fat or thin shaming, which is the point of this Hello Giggles article, and you’re just perpetuating it.

  4. Yikes! I went over to skinnygossip and was terrified. This is what girls/women are reading these days?! Kate Upton reminds me of Marilyn Monroe, who at a size 12-14, was THE SYMBOL of beauty and sex-appeal. Good on ya, Kate Upton! Flaunt those curves, girl!

  5. Umm, yeah, she’s gorgeous. I’d rather look at Kate Upton than your run-of-the-mill washboard-bodied model.

  6. THANK YOU for telling it like it is. I hope to contribute to the movement of banishing this disgusting trend.!

  7. so i went on this skinnygossip site for the first time after reading this article. the writer and the commenters’ idea of healthy and thin is terrifying. the writer claims she is 5’7″ and 100. That is not healthy. I am a huger promoter of eating healthy and exercising (and I exercise a lot) but this website terrifies me.

  8. I’ve volunteered in a self-help group for students with eating disorders so I can imagine the negative impact bloggers such as the one mentioned might have.

    The tremendously unrealistic expectations of people like the SkinnyBlogger, placed on others who may not share their views is, at best, deluded and, at worst, stupid.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when people start listening to people like this blogger. I’m grateful for the considerable degree of backlash she’s receiving because of this attack on Kate Upton.
    Curvy all the way!!

  9. It’s so sad that with all the wonderful technologies we’ve created, we have failed to educate ourselves on what is healthy. Your weight isn’t necessarily an indicator of your health. We should be more worried about whether we’re getting enough of the RIGHT nutrients than we are about what other people think. If people want to gauge this girls health, they should ask to see her food & exercise journal, not her body.

  10. Kate Upton is quite simply a true model, a real person and also part goddess if i may say so myself. At least she is part of the living and looks that way, not just skin and bone.
    Curves are the way forward again, why did they get side tracked for so long in the first place ?

    Lots of Love for Zooey and Kate!!!

  11. Coming from someone who is in recovery from anorexia, I am upset with this entry. Who are you to question my mental disorder and make me feel like I have some ‘silly’ disease. I used to love HelloGiggles, and I will no longer visit this website. I am appalled! Pro-Ana sites are usually created by anorexics who give tips about how to ‘stop hunger’ or tricks to teach how to make it look like your eating, or any other anorexic tool. Obviously a blog or site does NOT create an eating disorder but it sure as hell can trigger someone with one. I wish you would have consulted someone who has an understanding of psychology or mental illness. I am fuming!

    • Sorry to hear you’re fuming, but as someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade, I drew on my own experience to form the opinions I wrote. No one’s mental disorder was called into question; the term “disorder” was called into question. It’s becoming increasingly difficult in our society to sort out what is “normal” behavior around food and body image when websites like Skinny Gossip create an open dialogue rooted entirely in starvation tips and body-shaming. I’m sorry you took offense, but I think we’re actually in agreement – maybe it was a miscommunication issue on my part. I wish you well in your recovery.

  12. I love this article, and have been reading all of this bloggers posts because I respect her words and think shes hilarious. I just read the original post on skinny gossip and I am equal parts sad and enraged. They say the site is about “thinspiration” but all they really seem to do is tear down other women. You are entitled to your opinion, and you are even titled to talk about it on the internet, but call a spade a spade. Your site is about tearing down other women because it makes you feel better about yourself. There is nothing inspirational about comparing a woman to a cow. ANY woman. It breaks my heart to see such woman on woman cruelty.

  13. I read the blog post and decided to explore the site. I don’t know how this Skinny Gossip blogger can say that they “prefer the skinny look, but not at the cost of health”, when the readers post that they consume between 500-700 calories a day! I felt like I was entering a different world. That aside, Kate Upton is beautiful and looks healthy. Great article =)

  14. This website is a very nice place for inspiration, with absolutely no shaming. http://www.haescommunity.org/

    SkinnyGossip is insane. Nothing about it is helpful.

  15. Shame on SkinnyGossip! I’d never seen the website before and I am absolutely appalled! Sites like this only serve to make normal, healthy, or maybe even god forbid curvy women feel bad about themselves, and encourage dangerous and unhealthy behavior in those poor women with negative body image. It’s taken me years to own my curves and feel good about my healthy body – and while I think she’s maybe a little too young to be so sexualized in men’s mags, I’m happy that beautiful curvy gals like Kate are getting some love.

  16. Agreed 100%

    Upton is gorgeous, and body-shaming is at maximum volume right now. However, there is an equal and opposite crisis going on right now with obesity. It’s either girls are starving themselves or they’re deciding that they don’t need to worry about that extra 50-100 lbs they’re carrying in their teenage years. One look at any amusement park or public event and you can literally see Americans eating themselves to death. I’m not talking about everyone’s 10-lb cushion or a girl of 5’10″ weighing 150 lbs and wrongly feeling “fat” — I’m talking about girls topping 200 lbs at 5’5″and not feeling compelled to lose any of it.

    There has to be a happy medium, and maybe it’s more Kate Uptons coming on and showing they don’t have to starve to be beautiful, but I do very much also worry that girls are taking the “accept me for who I am” mantra just a little too far. Another reason to support our First Lady in trying to create a healthier population!

    • It’s almost as if the obesity epidemic has grown alongside the obsessive Thinspo/anorexic look in modeling- as if there is some weird correlation. It’s very, very weird. Plus tons of fast food everywhere, lack of phys. ed programs (budget cuts in schools), lots of computer & tv time for kids- it’s like a perfect storm.

      And for girls, a perfect storm of increased media use, airbrushed ads, diet products, lowered model body weights, our porn-y culture givng men unrealistic standards for body types…. it’s all so F*CKED!
      :( If Kate Upton is fat, I’d like to live in THAT fat suit.

    • Absolutely! The body shaming is horrific, but the public health crisis facing the US and UK is obesity not eating disorders. What we all need to focus on is encouraging those around us to be healthier, and though they may be perfect just the way they are, they are not in perfect health. There are far too many people who are overweight but feel like the norm so do nothing to change it, and are constantly told by their friends and family “Oh, you’re fine” , or “You’re not that big”. To me these statements, while not psychologically hurtful, are physically hurtful, and looking at the health of our nation, that may be worse.

  17. If Kate Upton is considered fat, God help us all.

  18. This is my first forray into the Skinnygossip world. And all I wanted to do is find the author – tie her to a chair and shove McDonald’s down her throat. I’m so tired of Hollywood dictating what’s sexy and what’s not. Yes, I am overweight. Yes it’s a problem. Not for my looks but for my health. And last I heard the saying was “Nothing tastes as good as HEALTHY feels.” Not skinny. I called a friend of mine skinny and she took offense to that. She’s a slender lady, who’s had to keep her body that way because of food allergies. All overweight people are not pigs – some of have psychological issues that lead to binge eating, some enjoy the food, and some are LONELY because of the stigma society puts on being overweight. Sites like Skinny gossip are completely DETRIMENTAL to women’s self image. And shame on her.

  19. I love how shes now trying to revamp her site to make it less “hurtful” and all of her followers are like poor you, poor you. What a laugh. This type of blogging is boarder line bullying and is not setting a good example for younger people. She sounds like a fat chick that got skinny and is a total con. Kate Upton is a 15 out of 10. If that’s fat, I’ll take it all day.

  20. Love this post. Skinny Gossip and site like skinny gossip are disgusting and horrifying.