When she has just unveiled her book “My well-being method”, Alexandra Rosenfeld has uttered a rant. The former Miss France denounced the “minçophobia” of which she has been a victim for many years. A term in opposition to “fatphobia”, systemic discrimination, and which makes many people roll their eyes in a society that glorifies thinness before health.
In the columns of the magazine Closer, Alexandra Rosenfeld is not going to make only friends. After having raised the subject of criticism around her weight on several occasions in recent weeks, the ex-Miss France spoke in an interview of her feelings about comments on her thinness. “Even if I’ve never had a complex about it, I’m still surprised that people think about it so often. It’s as inappropriate as criticizing the color of the eyes!”, she says before specify: “In my post, I received lots of messages from people who are really complexed by their thinness. Often, they don’t even dare to put on a tank top.”
Alexandra Rosenfeld and her weight, a recurring subject
Complex or not, Alexandra Rosenfeld has never hidden that her weight has been a subject of discussion throughout her life. “You may have thought that people have been commenting on my body since the Miss France and Miss Europe elections?” she asks in her book “My well-being method”, published by Robert Laffont. “During my childhood, and it lasted a long time, the comments on my morphology were not always sympathetic, and even often difficult to hear.”
Remarks which were accentuated at the time of Miss France, and which have never ceased, in particular because of social networks. If most of the comments published under the photos of Alexandra Rosenfeld are laudatory, some actually point the finger at her “protruding ribs”, or her “skeletal” appearance. Words that never please, especially when her silhouette is simply due to a question of morphology: “I tried to change my appearance, especially when I was a teenager, during which time I tried to gain weight. My mother gave me a bunch of cakes, put sauces in the dishes, to try to make me gain two or three kilos, she never succeeded!”, says the main interested party in the columns of Gala.
Why “minçophobia” is not systemic discrimination
Warning: at no time does Alexandra Rosenfeld minimize the impact of fatphobia. This is the opposite of her discourse of self-acceptance, and in her book, she mentions both problems: “We hear more frequently about grossophobia in the media and in books – and it acts of quite abject and unjust social oppression – but it must not be denied that there is discrimination against difference in general, and in particular very thin people, considered thin, not to mention those whose shape and proportions are so discreet that some dare to make fun of them by calling them half portions.”
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This is where the shoe pinches, and where the words of the former Miss France annoy more than one person, especially those who weigh heavier on the scales. Because if bodyshaming is never acceptable, there is a big difference between grossophobia and minçophobia: one is systemic discrimination, not the other.
Systemic oppression is determined by the fact that the political, socio-economic and social system produces and reinforces inequalities and discrimination suffered by part of the population. This term therefore corresponds completely to fatphobia, and for good reason: discrimination against overweight people has been proven on several occasions. People, and more particularly overweight women, suffer discrimination against their silhouette at different levels:
The list is long, and it does not stop there. And in our society which still glorifies thinness, and for which overweight is automatically synonymous with poor health and laziness, these discriminations do not apply to thin people. The proof with the case of Amanda Lee, a TikTok star who has been repeatedly congratulated for her weight loss … linked to a particularly violent cancer and the removal of part of her stomach. In the comments of her videos, you can read messages such as: “Whatever the reason you lost weight, it works, you look beautiful. Keep it up.”
The consequences of grossophobia are multiple, and people targeted by minçophobia do not experience them.
Can minçophobia be considered an oppression?
Grossophobia and minçophobia are two very different things, which do not have the same outcomes, but which start from the same principle: a value judgment against a person’s physical appearance, which can lead to complexes . This is where the term “minçophobia” is perhaps poorly chosen. Because if in our society, thinness will never really be considered a defect, this is not the case with thinness. As such, “thin phobia” is quite different from “minçophobia.”
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The extreme thinness suffered by some people is indeed associated with disease, anorexia, drastic weight loss caused for example by diseases such as AIDS or cancer. In addition, slimming phobia is also very present in men, to whom society asks to be tall and strong. Those who are smaller in size are quickly considered less “virile”: a very patriarchal vision of things coupled with a background of homophobia, thin men often being mocked with insults related to sexual orientation, which couldn’t be more ridiculous. The problem is such that we forget that these gentlemen are also confronted with eating disorders.
Minçophobia, an oppression? Not really. On the other hand, in some cases, thinness can be one, and prove to be particularly insidious, precisely because of the glorification of thinness. Many skinny women dare not complain because they are “lucky” to meet societal beauty standards.
What if we just stopped commenting on the physical?
The problem with minçophobia is that its manifestations are often considered a form of jealousy. Again, blame the patriarchy: women have always been brought up to compete with each other. It is to the one who will be more beautiful, more attractive, more interesting than her neighbor. Physical mockery therefore sometimes hides a hint of jealousy, a way of reassuring oneself, and this, regardless of the direction in which it is expressed. On the other hand, it is important to stop believing that those who make “minçophobic” reflections are simply jealous of the silhouette of their target: they are only applying a purely educational and societal behavior in which they have been taught to compare them to each other, and to justify themselves to prove that they are better than the others. The problem therefore goes far beyond a simple question of appearance and value judgment.
This is also one of the reasons why it might be time to stop opposing minçophobia and grossophobia, or rather, to stop judging each other on their physical appearance. Many movements remind us: your value goes beyond your appearance, and bodyshaming is dangerous for your health, both mental and physical. The teasing of a person, whether tall or short, thin or fat, has a significant impact on self-confidence and can lead to self-devaluation and reinforce anxiety disorders. So many things that can increase the risk of developing eating disorders, which are difficult to get rid of. Learning to love your body, to accept it and cherish it is therefore much healthier.
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