Is Being Called Thick A Compliment or…?

Hey guys,

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve noticed a specific word being mentioned in social media comments. I’m talking about the word thick. Seriously, just scroll through any feed of any Kardashian and you’ll see hundreds of people saying the same thing. “She’s looking so thick!” 

A while back, this photo of Rihanna surfaced on Reddit and people went nuts:

Nuts in the sense that people rejoiced over her weight gain, called her “Queen”, “still hot”,  and even gave her the name “Thickanna.”

Then it was Hilary Duff’s turn!

People Are Freaking About These Photos Of Hilary Duff Because She Looks Thick” and “People Have Just Realised Hilary Duff Is Thick And, Honey, They’re Living“.

Twitter was on fire with people commenting on both their figures. Each woman is OBVIOUSLY gorgeous. And the attention was meant to be complimentary. But still…it got me thinking.

The term “thick” typically brings to mind a specific body type. You think of voluptuous curves. You think of big breasts. Large hips. You might also think tiny waist giving a prominent hourglass figure. Yes, that describes a beautiful body. But that’s not the only kind of beautiful body! And it’s not a body type everyone has or can naturally attain. From what I can tell, “thick” in this sense is used as a compliment. It definitely doesn’t have the negative tone of being called “fat”. But still…why are we so obsessed with labeling bodies?

Personally, I want to be told I’m strong. Or healthy. Or a kind person. I want to be inspiring. I want to be powerful. I want to actively work towards always being the best person I can be. I don’t like judgements on bodies. It just feels vain – even if it’s “oh looks like you lost weight”. I am so much more than my body.

But, at the end of the day, words are just words. We’re the ones who give them meaning. But those meanings can and do hurt. What you intend as a compliment might be taken a completely different way. Fat, thick, skinny, tiny, round, flat – please remember these are all superficial labels that really tell you nothing about a person. None of those things define you. They don’t speak to your character or abilities or any of the wonderful things that make you uniquely you. 

How do you guys feel about the term “thick”? Is there a specific word you find empowering? Or do you prefer not having any comments based on your body? 

  • melanie

    I would say the difference between hilary duff and the others is she’s muscular and looks strong. Look at her lower back and the shape of her butt… that’s muscle. Rihanna appears to have increased her body fat percentage and Kim Kardashian is a whole other story. The funny thing is when we call people fat… we’re all fat to some degree or another. A percentage of eveyone’s body is FAT. I don’t think it’s wrong to describe a figure of someone with any adjective unless it’s intended to be cruel or cause the person harm in any way. I think we as females need to stop giving a shit what adjectives are used to describe us. I am thick at ~20-22% bodyfat (my weight fluctuates 5 lbs) and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. My stomach still has fat on it, but I don’t really care to diet as I’m hitting prs in the gym on my main lifts every 2-3weeks and prs on some of my accessories. I am thick, no I’m not skinny, I will never be skinny, and If someone called me fat, it’s my own fault if I internalize it and cause harm to myself. We can’t expect the world to be overly considerate and PC with every tiny thing. There are far worse things facing women, even in north america, but I hear more people complaining that someone made someone else feel they were overweight (usually because they are) and the poor person’s feeling and so on and so forth. I had a boyfriend who used to hit me when I put on a little weight (I was on meds that made me gain weight and was bulimic) . I have PTSD from childhood abuse, abusive relationships and countless sexual assaults (we won’t even go into the retraumatization by the mental health system…). We talk less about the violence facing women and unnecessary mental illness labels assigned to women with trauma histories that prevent them from getting help (ie diagnosing a woman as borderline when she actually just has PTSD). It’s a sad thing when the best advice to give to someone struggling a mental illness is to stay the hell out of the public mental health system as it does more harm than good. Seriously, my eating disorders came from shit said by people physically and/or sexually abusing me. I eventually got over them, but if someone called me fat I would prefer that to telling me I deserved the trauma I went through or it didn’t happen. We need to take a look at mental health care, education, safety and health in general (obesity is a very real and serious epidemic). Can we stop freaking out over every damn adjective used to describe an individual’s (usually a woman’s) aesthetic and focus on things that actually matter? I seriously can’t stand my generation sometimes.

  • Kay

    I am not sure what you mean by “glorified in different countries.” This
    term is home grown in the U.S. of A… You have just come across a “new”
    term to you, that has always been said among Blacks and Latino’s in
    this very country. It is being said to this very day. This has nothing
    to with a certain body type being glorified in another country. This has
    to do with a body type and term that has always been idealized among a
    community of people in this very country,across regions, from way back.
    No need to reference other borders as if this weren’t an “American”
    thing. P.S. The person speaking about “Slim Thick” in a below comment,
    is also referencing a term regarded highly in the same communities, and
    from what I have seen, a very common occurrence among the Black/Latino
    people.

  • Mevena Flaux

    As a french woman, being called thick would hurt me. I don’t know if it is because of the French society, but this word sounds negative because, as someone said earlier, it is the opposite of thin. And I feel like girls need to be skinny but with large hips and big boobs in everyone’s head to have the “perfect body”. It’s kinda impossible for my body type so I had confidence issues for a long time. But now, I begin to accept the way I am thanks to the Blogilates Community ; we worth so much more than body judgements, and it is by working everyday to be the best version of ourselves (body and mind) that we are destroying these superficial perfections. The perfection we should want to reach is confidence and this is by accepting and loving our unique bodies we will reach it.
    Personally, I think the best compliment people can do is “beautiful” because it doesn’t mean you’re too much or not enough something. Being called fit or strong is also a compliment to me because it means my work on myself is seen and I’m proud of the journey I make.

  • Kathryn St John-Shin

    I’ve heard “thick” being used since I was a kid. There were very few black people around so the word, for us at least, didn’t have black origins. It was used as a nice way of saying someone had weight but wasn’t fat. They weren’t fat or chubby but they weren’t skinny either. They were thick. This could have described any number of females from someone who was muscular (and the muscle prevented her from being a size 0) to someone who had some extra weight (the compact kind, not the jiggly kind).

    From the way I heard it used and the way I use it, it was neither a compliment nor an insult. It was merely an observation said in a way that was designed not to insult.

    I don’t think we’re obsessed with labeling bodies so much as pointing out something that we can see. We can’t see someone walking down the street and say they look so kind or intelligent because we have no idea what their personality is like. We use our eyes to get a sense of someone because it’s our number one sense that we rely on. We can’t go over and start touching people or sniffing or, worse, tasting them so that leaves our ears and people aren’t going to tell you their life stories right off the bat. We have to rely on what we can see and that means we see the body.

    Most people I can’t tell if they’re looking strong unless they contract their muscles and most people don’t do that. Even confidence doesn’t shine through for most people. Impressions are usually wrong and people can lie, but the way a person’s body looks is hard to disguise (especially when their clothes are so revealing like they are these days).

    Until we grow an extra sense that works better than our eyes, I think we’ll always be looking at people’s bodies and commenting on them. That doesn’t mean it’s an insult or a compliment though. They can always just be observations.

  • If I were to be called thick a few years ago, I probably would have shut myself in my room and cried. Now, I have a much more relaxed approach (hey, I’m a girl, I got curves, and that’s okay!), but I still feel a little insecure about being called thick. It just brings up a really traumatic part of my past that I couldn’t ever imagine myself returning towards.

  • Meghan Byrne

    Cassie,
    You are strong, healthy, kind, and so incredibly inspiring!

  • Hannah

    When people say “thick” I don’t think they mean to judge. I think they say it to make girls with a little more weight feel beautiful weather thats big or small.

  • Breanna

    I think that the new trend of “thick” is meant to make “thicker” women feel good about their bodies, and not meant as a insult at all. For so long people that are thinner or have a skinner body type have been seen as the “perfect body.” I believe that healthy is beautiful! But I just think that people that are calling others “thick” are not trying to be judgmental at all, just trying to let them know that they beautiful even still.

  • Karen Bateman

    The only thing I like said about my body is that it looks healthy and strong.

  • lisa

    instead of being called thick, skinny etc I would love to haer other compliments such as you are glowing, you look happy, something whih is a complimnt but without labelling certain things

  • Audrey Highfill

    On one hand, I get that we shouldn’t be so hyper focused on women’s bodies like we are, but on the other, I love being called thick. In the community I grew up in, the ideal body was very skinny with slim hips, but I’ve always put weight on easy, and as soon as I hit puberty, I grew wide hips and thick thighs. That, in addition to seeing skinny bodies on every red carpet, runway, and magazine cover, and a judge mental mom, made me hate my body for a long time. I thought my body was disgusting, I’d be called thunder thighs by other kids, I had a really unhealthy relationship with food, and I remember staying up late looking for miracle weight loss pills on the internet.

    But in the past few years, since thick bodies have become more mainstream popular, my self esteem really started to grow. Just seeing heavier, curvier women and seeing them celebrated really helped. My girlfriend loves my thick thighs and always tells me. It makes me feel so sexy which I never did before.

    • blogilates

      Aww that is so good to hear!!

  • Elle

    I’ve been called thick all my life. Or, like my husband like to say: “My god, you’re thicker than a Snicker!” This is definitely a nice compliment! You can’t help how you are shaped, and, fortunately, most people I hang with do not obsess over being skinny or not eating certain things, which is pretty nice. No one is judging me for having a little bit in the middle or having big breasts or butt or thighs, other than to say I look nice. You can look nice without being model thin! But honestly, as long as I am healthy, fit, intelligent, and show kindness to my body, then I feel like I am not less than someone who is smaller or larger than I am.

    • blogilates

      Aww! Thicker than a snicker! That is cute!

    • Haha I was going to bring up that thicker than a snicker!

  • Tiffany Matthews

    I’ve been skinny all my live. I’m 36 and I remember when boys starting calling girls “thick” back in junior high ( do the math, that was a while ago). I was like “great” I guess I’ll never be thick, lol! I’m ok with that. I love me and so does my husband. I have enjoyed my child bearing curves that I have obtained over the years but I’m no thickums.

    I’ve always found it extremely annoying when adults refer to other adults body shape. Like, who cares and mind your own business. I’ve had supervisors in the work environment say things like, ” I bet you’re always cold, you’re so [email protected]$& skinny”. Now imagine had I said the opposite. It’s hurtful both ways and it’s rude. Because I’m skinny people seem to think they can say whatever, but they would never say those same things to a larger person.

    Of course you’re going to notice when/if a person looses or gains weight. But to make an entire article about it like some of these blogs do is ridiculous. We are so body obsessed these days, it’s annoying.

    • Breanna

      I totally agree! So many people think its okay to point out how small someone is as long as its not fat, but it goes both ways.

  • hanvg

    This word has always made me laugh as in the UK it means stupid, e.g. thick-skulled

    • Teresa J

      It does here in the US too. I’m having a hard time understanding this term as a compliment!

      • Ms__M

        Maybe listen to “Baby Got Back” again? :) The song is a man leering at a woman, but it’s clear what he appreciates

        • Teresa J

          I’m not confused as to the intended compliment, but in my mind thick means stupid, that is the part I’m having a hard time with. And, I’d rather not listen to songs such as those.

  • Katie Verhoeven

    I love/hate when ppl comment on my body. I mean, growing up I was very large due to medical conditions. And I’ve lost a big chunk of that weight tho not all I want to get rid of. I find ppl who don’t see me on a day to day basis forget I’m not that size any more and often tell me I look like I’ve lost weight. My response is to always tell them – ‘I haven’t, I’ve put it on’ even if I haven’t. Its like a knee jerk reaction. I like the attention and get embarrassed/feel ashamed they are looking at me that way at the same time.

  • Angie

    Being “thick” is an empowering statement; it a term that was developed within communities of color. Thickness goes against the notion that european beauty is the highest standard of beauty, which (until recently, due to all of the cultural appropriation running rampage in the media – a la the Kardashians) did not value curves. Look up Saartjie Baartman’s background as an example… By calling yourself thick, you are embracing your full thighs, round hips, and bubble butt instead of wishing it were all gone for a more waif appearance. Thickness allows for an appreciation for your body type regardless of your weight.

  • Jordan Jones

    This is a great topic to bring up, Cassey! While many might find it a term that could be seen as a compliment, I find it hurtful. I still don’t understand why people feel the need to comment on women’s bodies in general. I have been called thick before and to me, it is hard to remind myself that it isn’t just the opposite of thin, even though that is what my brain immediately jumps to. It is a matter of personal preference, but when someone called me thick, I just wanted to hide. Why would you comment on my body at all? If i am trying to become healthier and people support me by saying, “you are looking strong/healthy/fierce/beautiful” this is one thing, but an unsolicited “you thick” by another lady felt like an attack. I don’t know, I just find it offensive! Interesting to see the different perspectives though

    • Jenny Yao

      I’ve had bros obsess over how hot a woman is by saying “She thicc 😍😍”. I’m curious, how would you feel if your partner obsessed over your amazing thick legs like that? If the word itself is still upsetting, would “you hella voluptuous and strong girl” be a better phrase?

      • Jordan Jones

        Great question! I guess if he knew I was self conscious about the size of my legs, but made sure I knew it was a compliment, it would be great to hear. It can be very situational – thanks for pointing this out!

  • Bee Smith

    Please look up African American Vernacular English(AAVE)/Ebonics. The term thick has been used for decades among the African American community and it is viewed as a compliment. Like Jenya mentioned, to non black women who are curvy (large bottom, hips, & bust) it can cause women to accept their curves. Essentially it is a culture/dialect thing, but because it has entered mainstream culture there are people who do not understand this and often misuse it.

  • advocate

    As many other have said “thick” is not a new term. Just new to non-blacks. Congrats on finally catching on. haha. For US, it’s a compliment and a positive branding of weight gain. You’re welcome to take offense to it though, lol. Either way, it’s still very much a black colloquialism… so you’re opinion on its positivity or negativity as an outsider is…well.. irrelevant.

    • Ms__M

      Yeah, I’m a little surprised that she’d never encountered it before

  • Jenya

    I was just talking about this with a friend the other day! As a few commenters (Danielle in particular) pointed out, “thick” isn’t a particulary new thing. Being neither black nor from an English-speaking country I only came across this term in the last few years and let me tell you, for me it has been very empowering. I live in Germany but am from a russian family and it seems that for russian women stick-thin only with big boobs is the ideal body – one I could never attain. I’m short, with a big ass, big bust, wide hips and thick thighs and growing up this caused me a lot of pain – the thought that my body would never be enough. But finding out that there’s actually a huge amount of people for whom having a body like mine isn’t only okay – it may even be ideal had a huge impact on the way I view myself.

    Of course being “thick” isn’t better than being “skinny” or “muscular” or whatever it is that becomes the new “ideal”. The way certain body types get glorified is a huge problem – but for me finding the term “thick” and all that comes with it has certainly had a huge impact on my self-esteem. Now instead of wishing to hide my curves I enjoy flaunting them – so to answer the question yes, to me being called “thick” is a compliment.

    • blogilates

      I am so glad you find “thick” empowering! Words have such a big impact on our self esteem.

  • Danielle

    In the black community it’s definitely a compliment. It’s an idea that’s been around for a long time (it’s not a new trend, it’s just getting more attention). My sister was very skinny growing up and she always wanted to be bigger. She wanted to be thick. I’m Jamaican and in Jamaica being thick is much more appreciated and sought after than being skinny or muscular. Lots of men, black men in particular, like women who have some fat on them, especially in the thigh and breast area. As I said before, this is not new, it’s been around for the longest time and it’s only getting mainstream acknowledgement due to Rihanna.

    As a black woman ‘thick’ is never an insult, but a compliment. It’s the ‘ideal’ form for black women. Our version of hour glass. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s a very natural shape for us. It’s not unrealistic if you’re black. The same way that having super dark hair naturally isn’t unrealistic if you’re of Asian descent.

    • Laur

      Same in the Latin/Hispanic community! It was always the ideal to have the big booty and thick thighs. I am white, but my best friends are Mexican and Puerto Rican and they always made me feel so much better when they told me not to worry when my brothers called me “thunder thighs” because in their communities, it is beautiful. And that’s why growing up I never had as many body issues as other girls because I knew early on that what one group of people thought was ugly, another thought was amazing! As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      • Sculpturette

        Yes! In the hispanic community (Puerto Rican here) having a healthy body is ideal. Having more fat/muscle is a good thing because it shows you eat well and take care of yourself. Being skinny to us means you are starving yourself or some other negative thing, which isn’t great either, but shows where we are coming from. It was always so odd to me that everyone always wanted to be super skinny because it was counter cultural to me.

    • blogilates

      It’s so interesting how different body types are glorified in different countries. I wonder if body type glorification has changed over the ages in each country? I know it’s changed in the US.

  • liva Funder

    I personally think that being called thick is fine its just complemementing your body, and what is wrong with that

  • silvia totis

    I’ve just read an article called “slim thick”, it talks about this new body type that is unachievable for most women, unless you don’t have surgery and a lot of money. The new trend is slim but with big butt and large hips, flat abs but big breast. This is unreal and makes women think there’s something wrong with them when actually it’s the trend which is absurd. We need to remind ourselves there’s nothing wrong with human anatomy! We can’t blame ourselves for not being able to look like fake instagram stars.

    • blogilates

      Can you link the article? Sounds interesting!

  • Kelsey McLean

    It’s just a stupid new trend meant to make women feel insecure, (what isn’t?) . Every decade has a different “ideal Boyd”. stick thin, curvy, strong, thick, whatever. I’m tired of trying to fit in to any of them. I am “thick”, without a defined hourglass waist. I am what I am, and my focus has become to just accept it. My mother no fault to her, is obsessed with her weight and has yoyo dieted my whole life, watching her and her misery with her body, and being aware of my same mentality has made me tired. I’m tired of trying to fit into societies mould of something I may never be. To that – thick, thin, who cares. Take care of your body, learn to love it, Learn to take care of yourself.

  • I don’t really like compliments on somebody’s body unless it’s something like you’re beautiful, or you’re looking really good! Instead of commenting on the body saying you’re looking skinny, or you’re looking thick, or you’re looking curvy, etc etc! Instead of those facts, why not say a positive attribute like beautiful or vibrant you know? :-)

  • Galina

    I came across the word “thick” in the comments under one of “Fitness Blender” workout videos about half a year ago. The comment related to the way Kelly’s body looked and it gathered quite a number of likes. As a non-native English speaker I didn’t fully get the meaning of the word at first, but being a linguist by profession I was able to figure it out. And just like you, Cassey, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about this term… Though “thick bodies” are obviously in trend now, I dislike the word more than like it. Probably because I personally prefer a more “fragile” look for myself (my idea of a perfect body).

  • Maya H

    As an African American woman I find being called thick a term of endearment. I agree that you’re more than your body but I love my body and my body is a part of me. So naturally I want it to fit a mold/label I’m comfortable with. I used to be small with no curves all the way until my senior year in college but once I graduated my body changed how it was effected when I worked out and my butt and lower body just kinda got thick lol. Needless to say I was happy and I’ve been blessed with where the fat stores in my body. I think it varies across cultures tho. And also biologically the hour glass figure is preferred due to the child bearing hips and all that. There’s nothing wrong with vanity and wanting your body to look a certain way- in my opinion. I’m living one life and my life is for me so I want to look a certain way while I’m living. I’d be offended if someone told me I wasn’t thick though… but again I think it’s cultural. As long as YOURE happy with YOU then you’re beautiful.

  • Ceili Galante

    I think in today’s world, anyone can be considered “thick” as a positive thing- but it doesn’t always have to be in body size! Someone can be “thick” with personality, or “thick” with ambition and goals. “Thick” was made to be a positive compliment to accept our bodies in any way they came: your cellulite, the little rolls you get when you sit down, that wrinkle next to your eye when you smile. All of those we can love and embrace. But it doesn’t always have to be about your body. Maybe you were “thick” with your emotions when you took that mental health day. Or maybe you have such a “thick” idea that’s ready to burst and go onto a piece of paper. Either or, thick is used to help celebrate our natural selves in any way: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically!

  • Connie Wilson

    I suppose being called “thick” can be considered a compliment. I don’t think I have ever been referred to in that manner. While I am not particularly thin, I am not voluptuous in the manner of having a really curvy hourglass figure. I would rather be described as being kind, a good listener, friendly, etc. I’m not sure if I were called “thick” would bother me.

  • martha atakora

    I’m an African American girl and I hate it when someone says I’m thick. And immediately I think I have fat. I don’t want to be called thick.

    • Jenny Yao

      Thick is also a comment on girls who lift and earned their asses. You can gain muscle in the booty. For girls who feel like they earned that muscle, it’s definitely a compliment. You workout because of Cassey. The butt can only have a layer of fat with the rest of it being muscle.

  • yvonne

    Less judgement on female bodies and the more infuriating part is females are perpetuating the behavior. Talk about your friend’s goals first always before you comment on her body even if there has been a change

  • Tieranie

    To ME “Thick” is an endearing term. I am African American woman, and growing hearing that word used meant the woman was looking good (not that other body types don’t look good). I never correlated thick with being fat or overweight.

  • Kimora Chanel

    Honestly the term “thick” doesn’t bother me at all, and I most certainly don’t find it offensive. Here’s why. I am an African American woman and genetically I’m going to be more voluptuous in certain areas of my body than most women. Growing up I was really self conscious about this fact, but having both males and females of the same race praise my body by telling me I was “thick” rather than “fat” was a super empowering thing, and it was never intended sexually. However, I do think that this term has been taken overboard or out of context many times, and most certainly more often today than not, but I still don’t find it to be offensive or demeaning in any way. Is it a compliment? I totally think that depends on the person, the context in which the term is used, and the overall situation. All body types are beautiful and while I definitely wouldn’t want some stranger labeling my body as “thick”, I honestly wouldn’t be bothered to hear my close families, friends, and significant other tell me I was thick, because I do find it empowering to know that the areas where I am more voluptuous (which honestly are the areas I am most insecure about) are the areas that people who really care about me really do appreciate the uniqueness of MY BODY TYPE. But again, this term impacts everyone differently, and that’s not a bad thing at all. So while I do find empowerment in being told I’m “thick” by close people in my life, if it was a stranger or someone I barely knew, please use other words such as strong, healthy, hydrated, and confident. 😊

    • blogilates

      Kimora, thanks for your input! It is so nice to hear from people of all cultures and backgrounds explaining how “thick” makes them feel.

  • shriya sasank

    “Thick” used as an adjective means stupid. And when you think of the word, “thick”, it doesn’t bring any positive images to mind! I think being described as STRONG, confident and happy(!!!) are much more effective and empowering than “thick”! And you’ve taught us that, Cassey! <3