Body Shaming – It Should Be a Punishable Crime

I have been reading more and more about how celebrities, models, singers, actors and just plain regular non-famous people are getting body-shamed for not fitting the size 0 – size 2 “standard.” It saddens and infuriates me. Body-shaming, that is, being called out for not being stick-skinny, has become a horrible and hurtful practice. Worst of all, it always seems to be directed toward women.

Here are some of the *fabulous women who have been and are being body-shamed. Take a good look at them; are they not gorgeous, unique, and stunning? Not to mention vastly talented?

Christina Schmidt, model

 

Melissa McCarthy, actress, comedian

 

Queen Latifah, singer, actress

Adele, singer

Leah Gilbert – Fitness Instructor

Leah Gilbert, Fitness Instructor

Sheryl Underwood, comedian, talk show host

These women have talents that most of us only dream of having; what in the world does it matter what SIZE they are? Who is anyone to judge these amazing and beautiful women, or any other woman who doesn’t fit the warped and prejudiced idea of having the “perfect” human body?

I’m not going to touch the subject of health and fitness. Suffice it to say that we all should be taking good care of ourselves in the best ways that we can. That’s a personal decision and no one else’s business. And our body shapes are our body shapes; we are who we are.

How is it anyone’s business what shape, size or weight someone is? It hurts my heart to think of the mean spiritedness of some people who feel they need to drag someone else down to make themselves feel better. Body-shaming is one of the worst kinds of bullying; I don’t care if you are the greatest star in the world or a cashier at WalMart–NO ONE deserves to be body-shamed.

It’s bad enough for adults, but just imagine the devastation it does to children and teens. They begin to hate themselves because they don’t fit the ridiculous “standard.” How sad, and how terribly unnecessary.

Here are some of what I call “faux helpful” comments some people offer (without being asked) non-size 2 folks:

  • “Oh, we don’t carry your size here. Why don’t you try Lane Bryant?”
  • “You know, you would be so pretty if you just lost 30-50 lbs.”
  • “It’s such a shame that you’ve let yourself go–you have such a pretty face!”
  • “My sister went on the <insert useless diet plan of choice here> and she lost soooooo much weight! You should try it!”
  • “Should you be eating that?”

Then there are these charming comments that too many people use without thinking:

  • “fat cow”
  • “fat pig”
  • “fat a**”
  • “wide load”
  • “tons of fun”
  • “disgusting fat hog”

I don’t care how self-confident you are, these comments are cruel, hurtful and nasty, and it’s hard to ignore them. Even the most evolved woman, upon hearing any or all of these comments, knows that deep down, deep below all the self-confidence she has worked so hard for, all the positive thinking she has done, and all the wonderful compliments she has received—there is still that persistent little worm of doubt that burrows in the heart and mind and asks, ‘is this true?’

I would encourage you to check out the magnificent Jes Baker’s blog, “The Militant Baker” at http://www.themilitantbaker.com. She has been a major advocate of positive body image, and her blog is inspiring, amazing, funny, provocative and bold. Her blog is all about being yourself, loving yourself as you are, and being the most authentic YOU possible. Her posts are funny, touching, uplifting, and in-your-face positive.

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The fashion industry, celebrities, movies, TV shows and so on seem to constantly scream at us: “THIS is how you are supposed to look! You are supposed to be thin and beautiful and do all you can to stay that way. If you don’t, no one will like or love you!”

What a complete load of lying crap, poppycock, bushwah, rubbish, codswallop, trash, tosh, bull, and absolute garbage! Speaking only for myself, I like to look as good as I can for my age and my own particular type of beauty. I am not the unlined, slim, pretty teenager I used to be, and why would I want to be? I have grown and changed and lived; I’ve experienced love and loss, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, hope and helplessness and all things we humans call life. Does it make me any less a person if I have gained weight, wrinkles and silver hairs throughout my journey? No, no, and positively NO.

I say that we call out these body-shaming bullies for what they are: pathetic losers who have nothing better to do than try to bring someone else down. It’s such a waste of life, love and energy. We don’t know how long or short our stay on Earth will be, but why not live it the best we can? Let’s lift up, not put down!

*I wanted a man’s opinion of these lovely women, and asked the Crankee Yankee for his take on them. When he stopped drooling, he said, “gorgeous,” “beautiful, “hot,” and my personal favorite: “if I weren’t married to you…..”

Fat Shaming Only Shames the Shamer

I have recently started following some amazing blogs by some amazing women who realistically and enthusiastically embrace their size, whatever it may be. These women put themselves right out there for the world to see–they wear fabulous clothes and shoes, in their photos they are always smiling, and their air of confidence shines right out at you. They are not size zero, they are whatever their size is. They have all experienced “fat shaming” at various times in their lives, and they understand the harm and hurt it causes.

To ridicule a person who is not an “average” size seems to be an all-too-popular sport these days. It is as if by being overweight that they:

  • Should be shut up some place so that no one is offended by their size.
  • Are somehow less human than others.
  • Deserve to be publicly ridiculed.
  • Deserve all the crude and loud insults shouted at them.
  • Should be grateful for someone assessing the contents of their grocery cart and lecturing them about their choices.
  • Should hide themselves away because they are too ugly to be out in public.
  • Deserve being called “sloppy,” “lazy,” “stupid,” “disgusting,” and so on.
  • Do not deserve love or kindness.
  • Should be lectured about their weight, morning, noon and night.
  • Should be reminded 24/7 that they are overweight.
  • Should just ‘lose weight, already–what’s your problem?’

I won’t bore you with the reasons why people are overweight; suffice to say that things are not always what they seem. Making assumptions about why a person is overweight is every bit as small-minded as racism, bigotry, hatred of gays, etc. If you do not know for sure why someone is overweight; in fact, if you do not even know that person, it is a very good idea to keep those opinions to yourself. Additionally, how do any of us know what has happened in this or that person’s life that may have affected how they view themselves? For example, if you knew that the overweight woman you see on the street was raped repeatedly as a child, would you comment about her weight? How is it ok to make judgements about people when you don’t know anything about them?

When I was young (and oh, how arrogant are we when young and think we know everything?), I judged other people on what they looked like, how they talked, how they dressed, how they acted, and much more. I was a self-righteous prig. I realize now how wrong I was, and also how wise and eternal the “golden rule” is, was and ever shall be: don’t do something to someone that you don’t want done to you.

These days, I would far rather spend my time admiring other people–fat, thin, short, tall, buck teeth, no teeth, long hair, short hair, black, white, pink or purple, gay, straight–each of us is incredibly valuable, unique and precious. We all have gifts that may not be immediately apparent; sometimes you have to do a little mining to get to it (the same for ourselves, no?).  I would rather compliment the overweight woman at the next table on her outfit, or her smile, than sit in judgement over her. How hard is it to find something to like or admire in someone? Must we always make assumptions based on someone’s size? Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of criticizing, we could just take that person as they are and enjoy them for who they are?

Perhaps people who routinely perform fat shaming (or any other kind of shaming) do it because they too have been treated badly. We do tend to lash out when we are hurt or angry, or to ‘get them before they get us.’ We can’t know the pain or sorrow in another person’s heart, but we can try to stop our personal terrorism of others. I am deeply ashamed of my prior thoughts and words to others, and wish I could take them back. I can’t, but what I can do now is look at people around me with compassion. It’s what I would want, too.

I believe that when we are cruel to someone about something they can or can’t help (and who are we to judge anyway?), we are adding to the misery and sorrow of the world. It’s said that a butterfly’s wingbeats in one continent can manifest as a tornado in another continent; that’s how powerful actions are. If this is true, then isn’t it also true that a kind word or a smile can start a chain of positive energy and joy throughout the world? Isn’t it worth trying? I think so. I also must say here that when I say “you” I am always including my own imperfect self.

We are better than this. Let’s all stop hurting each other and be supporters, not shamers.