It’s one of the many topics on the internet that Just. Won’t. Die. And I’m finally ready to do something about it.
Yet again I have been sucked in to a Facebook trending “news” topic concerning a famous woman’s body. Pictures have been circulated of her looking (depending on the source) dangerously thin, frail, sick, unhealthy, great, amazing, better than ever, healthy.
And I fall to my knees yelling at the sky, “WHY, INTERNET GODS?? WHY??”
Full confession time: I used to TOTALLY be someone who would buy the trashy tabloid magazines and gobble up the gossip and particularly the pictures of a star whose body had changed, via weight gain or loss or pregnancy. Bodies are crazy, right? And I had a deep need to compare mine to what I was seeing in the magazine, to measure myself against these women to determine if I was doing ok. The closer I could look to the pictures that were praised as “amazing bodies”, the better I was, right? I used to watch E! news as I toiled away on the elliptical machine at the gym, miserably chasing that “perfect” by media standards body, while I watched their brilliant coverage of the starlet’s latest and greatest diets for losing 10 lbs in one day! What am I doing on this elliptical?! I need to start a “detox” liquid diet and THEN I will finally look “perfect.”
I want you to ask yourself something. Something I had to ask myself and something I didn’t have a feel-good answer to. Why do we think its ok to pass around photos or videos of a woman’s body for public commentary? What makes us think that its ok to publicly mock a woman’s body just because she is publicly well known? How would you feel if you were that woman?
I know we like to fall back on the “she asked for it by being famous!” line. That makes us feel better. WE aren’t the ones out there making money off our appearance, right? If she didn’t like it, she shouldn’t have signed up for it.
Except, there is a little problem with that. The problem is, these women are actual real life humans. They are people like you and me and have emotions and body image issues and secrets. And there is another problem. There are real, live, human women viewing these pictures and reading these terrible comments and comparing their bodies with the woman in the photo. These words that we use, this attitude that a woman’s body is public property and comes with it a right for anyone to shame how it looks, these things add up. They add up piece by piece, comment by comment until if we aren’t extremely careful, they become our very own inner voice.
I’m not ok with that anymore. I’m not okay with media that makes its money by judging, commenting, and sometimes publicly shaming women’s bodies without their permission.
Unless you are entering a body competition or beauty competition or modeling competition where you are willingly giving permission for someone else to judge your body, to rate it, compare it, decide its worth, comment on it, I think we can do better as a society. I know I can do better.
I will be DAMNED if my daughter grows up with 1/10th the body hatred I have carried along with me for my teens and twenties. I will be DAMNED if she grows up with that critical, nit-picky, insanely unhealthy voice of the fickle media and advertisers as her inner voice for looking at her own body. I will be DAMNED if she grows up thinking that the sole act of being thin or losing weight or losing weight especially quickly is even REMOTELY inspirational.
A body isn’t inspiration to me anymore. DO something with your body, that is inspiration. I have long ranted about my hatred for when famous women say “I just want to inspire other women that they can _____ (look this good too/lose the baby weight too/get their bodies back after baby/ get in shape too)”. This isn’t inspirational. Not to me, not anymore.
I’m “inspired” by women who are a size zero and a size twenty-four, but it has absolutely nothing to do with their bodies. Maybe it’s who they are. Maybe it’s what they do with their bodies, like run marathons or build houses or birth babies. But it’s never because of what their bodies look like. It’s never for the sole act of making numbers on a scale go up or down. That’s a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. That’s not inspiration. I think we can do better than that.
I have decided that instead of whining about it on my blog, I’m going to do something about it.
I have decided I’m not participating in this public commentary on women’s bodies.
I’m not clicking on that picture with the clickbait title of the actress looking “shockingly thin” or the one speculating on plastic surgery or the one making fun of the overweight star.
I’m not buying the magazines with the “inspiring” stories of the actress who lost her baby weight in three days.
I recently read an article talking about the love/hate relationship of America with the Kardashians. America loves to hate them, but Kim is still out “breaking the internet” because EVERYONE IS STILL CLICKING ON HER PHOTOS. The advertisers and “news” outlets will keep promoting her as long as people care enough to click. I scanned the comments under the article, and predictably people were stark raving mad, exclaiming things like “how is this NEWS??” “How is she famous??” “Why do you keep giving her attention??” And I wanted to jump through the screen and shake these commenters that they are MAKING IT WORSE. Your comment just drives the engagement statistics up even higher, increasing the possibility that you will actually see MORE of Kim in the future.
To make a difference, we have to let it lie. We have to show we aren’t interested in being a part of a culture that thinks it is ok to take a photo of some actress out in public and pick her body apart, piece by piece. This doesn’t mean angry comments left on some tabloid’s article. This means flat out refusing to engage in these types of stories or media.
I’ve said it a million times, but women – WE ARE MORE THAN OUR BODIES. I often feel powerless to change our society, that’s a job too big for one person. But I have the power to change what I will give my attention, money, or click to. I’ve had enough – have you?