As a descriptor for food, it’s meaningless and manipulative. As a diet goal, it’s straight-up dangerous.
The first time I remember encountering a food product called “skinny” was at Starbucks, probably a decade ago (yikes). I found out that you could order any drink “skinny” and you’d get fat-free milk, sugar-free syrup, the whole nine yards. I thought it was the coolest, hippest thing ever and knew it was a club I wanted to be in. Skinny vanilla lattes quickly became My Thing. ~*~only 90 cals, y’all~*~
Older and wiser, I see how misguided that was. Milk fat is not an enemy. Sugar-free syrup IS my enemy. It tricks my tastebuds into thinking that this is how sweet things taste. It’s not. It was made in a laboratory and is astronomically sweeter than real sugar, and instead of giving me a satisfying hit of sweetness, it only made me crave more more more more.
How did it take me so long to realized that “skinny” foods are not good for me? Because the diet industry is filled with brilliant marketers who have convinced generations before us that they can show us the way to effortless thinness. Doesn’t matter if thinness isn’t written on your DNA. This skinny latte is gonna get you there. The skinnier the better.
What does skinny even mean? Nothing, really. “Skinny” foods and recipes are an insufficient shortcut to eating healthfully. There’s a false security to just blindly picking up on things that are labeled “skinny.” You don’t learn anything about nourishing yourself, or which fats are better for your body, or listening your body’s unique needs and wants.
It all builds on the glamorization of “skinny.” In college, my friends all knew that there was no greater compliment than “omg so skinnyyy.” Of course it’s just a word, a synonym of thin, but connotatively, it’s so much more: the opposite of skinny is fat. Anyone with body issues knows that. You’re either skinny, or you’re fat. It’s a binary view of the body, and it’s a very, very slippery slope.
I’m delighted by the (very deserved) blowback skinny has gotten in recent years (e.g. “strong is the new skinny”/“healthy is the new skinny”), and may it continue apace until this pointless term fades into distant memory. We deserve better.