Friday, July 6, 2012

When “Skinny” Was a Dirty Word

I don’t often share links, but I thought today’s Yahoo! feature on old advertisements for products to help women gain weight was pretty interesting.  And not just because there was a time in the very recent past when enough people wanted to gain weight that companies actively went after their share of that market.  (Though I do find that fascinating and utterly foreign in the world we currently live in.)

No, my main interest in these ads is the way they universally put a negative spin on the word "skinny."

And that led me to remember something from my own childhood that I had forgotten about:  my parents' extreme aversion to the word. 

I was always very thin as a child, but my parents would get borderline angry if anyone called me “skinny.”  “You are not skinny," they would adamantly tell me anytime I reported someone had described me as such.  "You are thin and you are healthy!"

As a result, I, too, developed a negative connotation with the word, and even now only rarely use it...

So I wonder which came first?  Did advertisers play off of people's dislike of the word?  Or did the dislike come from advertisers' spin on it?

All I know is that it'd be pretty bizarre in this day and age to get mad at anyone for calling you "skinny."  Weird.


  1. hmmmm.... a lot of these pictures about how skinny doesn't used to be a desired body shape pop up lately.

    But I don't think 5 pounds make a difference from being skinny or not *ggg*


    1. Probably not...and I think these ads were aimed at plumping up not just women's bodies in general, but certain *parts* of a woman's body specifically.

      But pretty interesting looking back on it! Very different times, indeed...