The size-ist “slim” label – a positive take

The size-ist “slim” label – a positive take

Labels such as “slim” or “fat” don’t really fit in here at Can Eat Attitude. We don’t feel that they engender people’s positivity and empowerment about their health/lifestyle choices. We can’t pretend that they don’t exist though and it’s important to us that we address some of the language used alongside those labels.

Today we are specifically going to focus on the “slim” or “skinny” label: not because we don’t believe the “fat” label carries just as much significance, but because we can confidently speak from experience. And according to Can Eat’s experience, this label is doubly complex.

Here’s a scenario:

You are a “slim” person who hears lots of comments about your weight, because it seems to be deemed ok to pass comment on people like you. You’ve done a lot of work to have more body confidence; and that may have previously largely been zero.

And then…

You go out for a run in the sunshine, it was hard but you were happy, feeling really strong, pretty healthy and in your zone. You stop to chat to someone. There passes a number of comments on your weight during this conversation, including: “if you stood behind that lamp post we wouldn’t see you”, “you’re VERY slim” and a question as to what dress size you are. Then being told that there was no way you are x size, they reckon you’re a “zero”.

So, let’s unpick what this might mean to you

Firstly, the implication that you aren’t fully aware of your own body – and inadvertently disassociating you from it. And then you have the “zero”: implying nothingness, being insubstantial, lacking, not enough. This “lacking” is a dramatic undercurrent of our discourse in society now. There are so many arbitrary numbers with which we assess whether people are “enough/not enough” and good/bad.

Find your rhythm again and meditate on these reminders:

  • You are far from nothing or insubstantial – what you do and who you are matters.
  • You will never stack up to arbitrary measurements and you don’t need to.
  • You can strive to build up those around you (especially the women) to see that these measurements are set up to make them “fail”/feel bad/guilty.
  • Whilst dress sizes can have a practical application in terms of buying clothes, this never used to be an issue when everything was tailor made to fit the individual. Consider buying vintage items and get them tailored to fit your body. There is no “standard” size or shape of body, we are all unique.


Consider banishing the scales from your house. The weight on the scales isn’t necessarily the most reliable gauge of your health. It’s so much more important to be in touch with and listen to your body: if you feel energised, healthy and strong, you’re probably getting it right!

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