Why I Haven’t Addressed the Collarbone Thing

So, several people have e-mailed me links to stories about how prominent collarbones are the new symbol of self-disciplined thinness, since the trends are shifting toward oversized clothes that conceal how scrawny the wearer is or is not. (To an extent. I can tell you right now, I won’t be wearing any trapeze dresses, because trapeze dress + Rack of Doom = pregnant circa 1963, which is not a good look for me.) And the type of people who knock themselves out to be scrawny want some goddamned credit for it, eh?

I just got the link from yet another friend, who concluded by saying:

I have to confess that a couple of years ago I did spend a certain amount of time saying to myself, damn, how do I get my collarbone to be more prominent? Seriously. Not proud of it, but there you go. I hadn’t really thought about the whole starving-yourself-to-look-like-a-Holocaust-victim aspect of it.

I wish I could say I’m horrified by that and can’t fathom such a thought process, but, um, nope. So here’s my response to her, which shall serve as my belated response to all the collarbone bullshit:

I have seen the collarbone thing, though I didn’t see it in the Trib. A few other people have even e-mailed it to me (one of the coolest things about having a readership is that now strangers e-mail me things and say, “I want to hear what you have to say about this”), but I’ve avoided commenting on it so far, in part because I don’t feel like I have anything intelligent to say about it (beyond “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST”) and in part because other fat blogs have addressed it already, so I feel like the territory is pretty well covered. [Note: I think The Rotund said something about it, too, but her site seems to be down at the mo, so I can’t verify that or find a link. If I’m wrong, you should go read her blog anyway.]

Also, I sort of feel like there’s a danger of my comments section turning into a bunch of skinny bashing, which I’m too lazy to moderate, frankly. Every time something like this comes up, someone inevitably says something like, “Real women have curves!” and then someone who’s naturally thin says, “Ain’t I a woman?” And I think that’s completely fair of the naturally thin to say. But there are a whole lot of fat (or even just not skinny) women out there who don’t yet have the self-esteem to say, “lots of different body types, including mine, are just fine” — many feel the need to put down skinny people the way they’ve been put down for being fat their whole lives. And I fucking hate that, even if I understand it and empathize with it, so I kinda just didn’t want to open the door to that whole conversation on my blog.

And although I don’t recall ever thinking about my collarbones, specifically, I did have an interesting conversation with a (thin) friend who also sent me a link to the collarbone thing. I told her what I just told you, and she said, “Yeah, skinny girls hate their bodies, too. I can remember being on the beach when I was a teenager and being mortified because you could see my pelvic bones jutting out.” And I was like, “Huh. I remember standing around the high school pool, and looking at this one girl’s pelvic bones jutting out, and wondering if I could get mine to do that, ’cause it looked so sleek.”

That one girl, btw, also had the copious downy arm hair that suggests a body too starved to keep itself warm, and she once told me that sometimes she stuck her cereal spoon down her throat and puked on the breakfast table to get attention. It never occurred to me at the time that she might have an eating disorder. I just wanted to be as thin as her.

And so it goes…

7 thoughts on “Why I Haven’t Addressed the Collarbone Thing

  1. Oh noes, my site isn’t working for you? It seems to be up for me, but now I am worried. Let me know if it still doesn’t work for you, please?

    The collarbone thing…. Yeah. It’s very much a response to fashion. Current fashions make people look bigger and, you know, heaven forbid we not look as small as possible!

  2. I think its one of the things that has helped me make peace with my body, the knowledge that almost no woman out there is happy with her body, no matter how thin.

    I was wearing this strapless dress from Torrid to work the other day (with a cardigan so I wasn’t totally bare and inappropriate for work). My naturally thin co-worker told me that she really liked my dress but she’d never even consider wearing a strapless because her upper chest and collarbone area were too thin and bony. I was like, but that’s all the rage these days. She said that she knew it was but that she still didn’t like that part of herself. It just struck me as weird that I, a woman who easily weighs 120 pounds more than my coworker, likes my body more than the woman who was so close to society’s ideal.

    I felt kind of sad for her a little and wished there was something I could have told her that would make her feel that she could wear a cute strapless dress if that’s what she wanted.

  3. I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about the whole collarbone thing. Both of us being in the Social Work arena agreed that it doesn’t matter what body size one is, obviously most are not happy or there would be no such thing as the word ‘eating disorder’. At least not as we know it. We mused on the thought of what would we do with our time and money (as a society) if we didn’t have the body image focus? I know that is nothing new for anyone to do, but it is the never ending circle once you ‘step on’ and start the discussion.

  4. I don’t like the look, either. But don’t blame us heterosexual guys — after all, the fashion industry is run by women and gay men, for whom the pubescent boy is the ultimate sex symbol.

    Most straight guys aren’t into the whole fat thing, but nor are they particularly attracted by concentration camp chic. And they’re not looking at your clavicles, ladies.

  5. RoseCampion – I know, it’s awful when people feel really badly about their bodies. You just want to give them a self-esteem pill or a self-acceptance tonic or something. However, I don’t really think talking about it in this way – even skinny people are self-conscious, your body is all the rage, I can only feel okay because I know every other woman hates the way she looks, etc. – really helps out much. The point is to end the tyranny of fitting your body into a fad, or into any proportion prescribed by what magazines say we’re supposed to look like. I guess you just don’t have that conversation, you know? You accept the compliment, if she even gave you one. That sounds suspiciously like someone fishing for a compliment for herself.

    By the way – it’s not a given that skinny people have jutting collarbones any more than it is a given that fat people’s clavicles are subsumed by fat. Depends an awful lot on the bones themselves, not just on your padding. This stuff is just a new way of forcing yet another worry on us. Let’s throw this one onto the pile along with labioplasty and feminine deodorant spray.

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