In certain celebrity-obsessed corners of the Internet, there is no greater compliment than being called a “skinny legend.” No matter how well-meaning its usage may be, though, FKA Twigs would prefer it not be applied to her.
Last week, after the singer, actor, and dancer posted a photo on Instagram of herself hanging upside down while pole dancing, fans were quick to heap praise on her. But when one commented, “You’re so skinny I stan a skinny legend,” Twigs penned a thoughtful response in which she explained why she’s personally “uncomfortable” with the meme-y term and mused on its larger societal implications. “I am sure you don’t mean it in a bad way but I really don’t think that the term ‘skinny legend’ is very helpful at this moment in time culturally. for me it plays into something that makes me feel uncomfortable endorsing,” she began.
“I have always prided myself on being toned, strong and grounded physically, not skinny or thin,” she continued. “It makes me feel sad when I am called that. all body shapes are beautiful and the focus should be on being healthy in the skin that you are in. skinny legend represents the antithesis of that for me.” She went on to say that when her focus shifts from building up her strength to being skinny she feels “off,” and concluded with, “I hope you understand where I am coming from and why that term feels problematic to me.”
Generally, the term “skinny legend” is used in a more ironic, rather than literal, fashion—as evidenced by its more recent iterations, with celebrities’ bodies photoshopped to ridiculously snake-like levels of impossible thinness. The phrase seems to have first cropped up on Twitter in 2012 but didn’t reach widespread popularity until 2015 and 2016, when curvier stars like Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and Demi Lovato were lauded by their intense fandoms as “skinny legends.” Still, Twigs has every right to take issue with the term, since the usage of the word “skinny” as the highest possible praise, no matter the user’s actual intention, still inadvertently implies that being anything other than skinny is undesirable or less worthy of praise.
Twigs has spoken often about prioritizing her strength over fitting into any particular body type. Last May, she revealed that she’d undergone surgery the previous December to remove six fibroid tumors from her uterus. “I was so scared, despite lots of love from friends and family I felt really alone and my confidence as a woman was knocked,” she captioned another video of her pole dancing. “But… today whilst dancing with Kelly at the choreography house I felt like my strong self again for the first time in a while and it was magical. thank you precious body for healing, thank you for reminding me to be kind to myself, you are a wonderful thing, now go create and be other once again.”