• Tue, Apr 17 2012

“Disgustingly Skinny” Alexa Chung Removes Photo Of Self Amid Thinspo Controversy

“It-Girl” Alexa Chung is no stranger to body scrutiny–every couple of weeks, we come across another article about how she’s been photographed looking “sickly” or how, according to A Source, she has an eating disorder. Whether or not that stuff is true, she just became a casualty of the sudden widespread public sensitivity to thinspo and pro-ana sites.

Last night, Chung posted a photo of herself and her mother to Instagram (above). As you can see, Chung’s wearing a conservative denim mini dress that shows her legs.

…Soon after, the comments began: “I’m going to be very honest. I look at this picture and think ‘This is a woman not eating.’ Thus, I worry for women everywhere” and “THIS degree of skinny is frankly alarming, sadly. It is equally alarming that people ENVY this degree… as it is NOT a healthy degree of underweight. Certainly, they shouldn’t want to be like this.” Elsewhere, she was described as “horrid” and “disgustingly skinny.”

Chung then set the image to private and responded herself:

Hi, I am here. I can read. Ok everyone thanks for the teen angst discussions. People are different sizes. I’m not trying to be thinspo for anyone. I am now making this acct private. Byyyyyeeee.

It’s a tricky thing: we’re pretty much of the opinion that Chung’s body is Chung’s business (unless she’s whining about it to the New York Times). Still, a lot of people feel that Chung is a public figure and she has more than a passing influence on the legions of young girls who see her as a “style icon.” Moreover, the argument that “people are different sizes” is only acceptable when people of different sizes are adequately represented (or, at all).

If anything, hopefully we can all agree that calling someone “disgustingly [anything]” on the internet is 1) unhelpful and 2) lame.

Where do you fall?

(via The Telegraph)

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  • Gaia

    But she *IS* too skinny and she *DOES* look unhealthy! I can’t believe we’re at a point, culturally and thanks to the PC internet police, that we can’t say when someone looks sick/anorexic… if she’s being presented as this beautiful/cool/IT GIRL model.

    • Wren

      Should we be able to call someone “obese” as well?

    • tonya

      People do all the time. Obese is a medical term that has to do with BMI. If your BMI is over 30 you’re obese, unless you are an athlete with a lot of muscle. It’s just a fact. You may not like it, but it’s a fact.

  • Tasker

    I think the real problem here is that Alexa Chung is famous entirely because of how she looks.

    …So, it’s a problem when someone is famous for her looks/beauty/figure/style and people are supposed to treat this (images like this) as perfectly normal.

    • Asca

      Her knees are the widest part of her leg!

  • Bean

    YOU GUYS. You’re missing the point. Alexa Chung is still a real person and if she actually IS struggling with an eating disorder, or poor self-image, then blog posts about how “disgusting” she looks is going to make things worse. I don’t care if she’s famous, she’s still a human being.

    “Her body is her business,” I totally agree.

    • elizabeth

      at the same time, her body is her BUSINESS. she’s famous for her body and her clothes and for her to pretend that she’s naturally this way is irresonsible

  • kjon

    I just hope if she actually does have a problem that her family and friends will be there to support her and encourage her to get help. I can empathize to the degree where I know how it feels to have people voice their faux concern about your body (I was a 5’10″ size 0 freak of nature). I have filled out a bit since those years but I still deal with comments about my skinny arms and visible ribcage. And it does hurt when people think you’re sick and it’s like “no, this is my body”.

    PS I’m not accusing anyone here of concern trolling! I am saying though that it’s possible this is her natural body.

    • Ashley Cardiff

      This is a reasonable perspective! Everyone: look!

    • thaumata

      And it does hurt when people think you’re sick and it’s like “no, this is my body”.

      Exactly!

  • Cee

    She is rather thin, I hope its natural thinness as opposed to someone with a problem. But…who is she? I don’t know how she is famous? Is she even really Asian or is she like that white chick from Sienfeld?

    • Bean

      Ashley already wrote the definitive piece on this!!!

      http://thegloss.com/fashion/why-alexa-chung-bothers-me/

    • Cee

      …I couldn’t finish reading it. She inspired some sort of rabid rage in me. Shes a hipster Kardashian basically. Those two words joined together will probably bring on the apocalypse.

    • Kit

      Hipster Kim Kardashian pretty much sums it up. If anything, a little too succinctly.

  • Lisa

    “frankly” AND “sadly”!

  • Fabel

    No one’s body deserves scrutiny like that, but her response was so annoying to me. I don’t know why. Was it the “byyyyeeeeeee”? Maybe I got spoiled be Ashley Judd’s smackdown & wish she could have wrote something less flip?

    • Ashley Cardiff

      Really good point! This is an issue that deserves and needs real discussion, but we also need to find a way to talk about it.

      Judd, obviously, did a much better/more thoughtful job of addressing her critics, but she was also being attacked for something (puffiness, visible cosmetic procedures) that isn’t, alternatively, lionized as a standard of beauty (by which I mean “extreme” thinness).

  • thaumata

    As a person who is naturally as skinny as the lady in question, I get really tired of hearing nasty and presumptive comments about how skinny people are gross and need to eat something. If I’m not allowed to say someone looks like a cow because it’s rude, then you are not allowed to say someone looks like a skeleton. It’s really infuriating when you’re not even underweight or anything, but are just rocking what the universe gave you, you know? I think she looks just fine. She’s lanky, like a lot of people are. Whatevs.

    • Marissa

      Thank you, Thaumata. I feel exactly the same way. My legs just do not gain weight, and I forever look like a lanky 12 year old.

      If I were as famous as she is, I still wouldn’t feel the need to respond to all of those people making comments because no one is ever satisfied. Once she gains a few pounds, she’ll immediately be called fat.

    • elizabeth

      look up photos of her from like, 2006. she’s lost 50+ lbs over the years and for her to pretend that she’s naturaly this way is irresponsible

  • NotThumper

    Who the hell is this person?

    I must be under a pretty big rock because I have never even heard of her.

  • Sam

    In the same way that I get angry about people being “grossed out” about overweight women or any form of cellulite or whatever, I get really upset about people criticizing women for their thinness. I have many, many friends who are naturally thin in the same way I’m naturally a size 8-10; it’s just how their bodies are, and who on earth has the right to tell them they should or shouldn’t gain weight?

    I think the problem is not so much what she chooses to do with her body, but the fact that other people believe it’s (1)okay to call people “disgusting” based on appearance (2)okay to idolize anybody based on their weight.

    On a side note, I seriously have barely any idea who this chiquita is. My roommates mention her sometimes but I couldn’t tell you anything about her besides she has…a blog. I think.

  • Joanntheredhead

    @Wren… Well, that’s a fair question. But, I guess the answer may be: “yes”. I mean, I’m overweight (obviously so). I don’t think I’d be considered “obese”, but–I am obviously overweight enough that people could, in fact, say so If I look like I weigh “x” amount of pounds over what would be considered a healthy weight–which I do–well, I may be overweight. And, the fact is: I am. The truth may hurt, but–it’s still the truth. There’s also such a thing as being “x” amount of pounds under what is considered a healthy weight. There’s variance due to body type, but–there are still parameters which have been established by the medical community (just as there is a diagnosis of “obese”). And, people who really are underweight may need to accept that as a reality (just like I’ve had to accept my being overweight) and do something about it. I’m not sure the argument of “that’s just my body type” is anymore valid for them than it is for me to excuse my being overweight. I don’t like being told I’m too fat anymore than Ms. Chung likes being told she’s too skinny. But, if we are…well, then…we are.

    That being said: I suppose it’s in the way people address us. And, what their intentions may be. I don’t know if Ms. Chung is underweight–I haven’t weighed her! Am I’m not a doctor. But, well…I’ve been overweight enough to know that you can’t stop people from noticing what may have come to be the obvious (or, at the very least–the suspect).

  • Holden

    You have to realize though, she wasn’t always this thin. I think part of the public outcry is because she’s visibly dropped a significant amount of weight, suggesting this is not just her ‘natural body type.’ (btw, I’m a guy whos always been significantly underweight myself, have trouble putting on oounds, been scrutinized for it, blahblah, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, frankly, you can get an idea when someone’s weight has reached an unhealthy level.)

    I think Bean is right, name-calling and nasty comments really aren’t going to help the issue or her self-image, but at some point I think we have to stop being so self-conscious about being construed as judgmental, or unaccepting, and stop and say, whoa, hey, I think this girl has a problem. Thats really more up to her friends and family members, but when the person in question is constantly putting herself in the public eye, well, it gets very complicated.

    • Superjack

      Possibly the most reasonable comment I’ve ever read on the subject of a famous person’s thinness.

      And, yes, she’s lost a very, very noticeable amount of weight. And I agree on all points.

  • tonya

    I’m sorry but she does look malnourished and unhealthy. Her face looks gaunt.