I’ve read an awful amount of material online and in magazines about body shaming lately. It seems that many celebrities are inadvertently body shaming such as Melissa McCarthy who chose to where a big coat (that she loved) on the cover of Elle or Mindy Kaling who is a size 8 (above the average actress’ size) and chose a black and white photo of her head instead of showing her entire body on her Elle cover. I just read another piece that Katie Perry was body shaming and daily there is another story written, usually by women, on body shaming.
So what is body shaming? Simply, it is making another person, usually a woman, feel ashamed of her body. You can body shame by what you say and what you do. You can body shame without intending to body shame at all. In fact, I’m a little tired of reading about body shaming because it seems that every where you look someone has an opinion on someone else’s body and whether this is an opinion right or wrong, you can be sure somewhere in this world people are going to make comments and show pictures of other people’s bodies in magazines, newspapers, and many types of media. In fact, you and your friends are going to have opinions of other women’s bodies (and men’s) and your 78-year-old neighbour woman is going to have opinions about women’s bodies and so is her 83-year-old husband. In fact, I think it might be human nature for us to justly or unjustly have opinions and make statements about other people’s bodies. And often we don’t even mean to make these judgements we inadvertently do.
Take Melissa McCarthy. Many people said that she was body shaming bigger woman because she chose to wear a big coat for her Elle cover, a coat she loved and chose herself for her body. But because what Melissa chooses to where on Elle influences what many bigger woman will wear, this was called body shaming because the coat was draped and loose. It didn’t hi-light Melissa’s curvy figure. Melissa had a choice of what she wanted to wear and thousands of woman projected themselves onto Melissa and said, “She’s making curvy woman look bad, she is making me look bad.”
Really, it was Melissa’s choice what she wanted to wear and she wasn’t thinking about all the woman who would see this cover negatively. She was thinking about what she loved and what would make her comfortable – the same kind of idea many woman have when they try on clothes from their closet or their favourite store. So, how can this be body shaming? I think a large amount of women out their need to leave Melissa alone and worry about their own bodies, not Melissa’s body. Sure we like to look to celebrities for ideas of what is stylish but there is nothing forcing us to wear what they wear. If you don’t like what Melissa is dressing in for her Elle cover then don’t wear a coat like that. Use your own sense of fashion and pick something that you feel is more flattering on you. Melissa, having an opinion on what she wants to wear is not body shaming and neither is any women’s opinion on what they choose to wear.
The same goes with Mindy Kaling. The average celebrity is a size 6 so Mindy is not that bigger than the average size at a size 8. Even if you consider her huge compared to your other favorite actresses, it’s Mindy’s choice to just show her face in black and white on her Elle Magazine cover. She has a beautiful face and because she chose just to show that face, not even in color, and the thinner actresses with Elle covers had full body full color covers, does not mean that Mindy is body shaming women who don’t have ideally sized Hollywood body types. It is often harder to be a Hollywood actress with a bigger body but Mindy is not doing anything purposely against the regular woman who is a size 8 or 10 because she only chose to show her head in her Elle cover. She liked her cover and chose it because she liked it. Again, people need to stop projecting themselves onto an actress and figure out how to wear clothes for their body type, not only according to an actress or models fashion choices.
I know this is difficult. That although we are trying to show more plus sized models, magazines and brands are loath to do this. They use size 8, 10, or 12 sized models to represent woman who are size 14 or larger. The persistence of models who are unhealthily skinny, so much so that you can count ever rib they have, occurs still. But there are many women in the world who are skinny too.
I think that whatever the case, we need to be the ones who are happy with our bodies and need to stop listening to what the fashion industry says is the ideal sized woman. The ideal sized woman is healthy. She eats a healthy diet, exercises regularly, and indulges in treats such as most woman do. She does what she can to keep her body healthy no matter if she has a few extra pounds on her, stretch marks from having children, or a stomach that isn’t flat.
But the main idea is that you as an individual need to decide what’s healthy for you as a woman (or man) for you and your family. Not
everyone is ever going to be thin and toned and not every body is curvy. The onus for body shaming is on us, the regular woman, and not just the media. Sure we can blame the media for giving us some unrealistic goals of what they think woman should look like. But we don’t have to keep looking at these images and we don’t have to tell our daughters and nieces that they should look like these famous people. We our the ones who need to stop body shaming ourselves and other woman by our actions and our words. Although, we will all undoubtedly have opinions about how other people look, lets keep them to ourselves and focus on living healthy lives and looking and dressing just as the beautiful people we are and wear what looks good on us.