Honey, we need to talk: Body Shaming

By The Editorial Board

 

Fat shaming week, a pseudo-holiday celebrated by passionate Twitter users and birthed by the popular site, returonofkings.com – a site for “heterosexual, masculine men” as the administrators describe it, just had its first anniversary.

On October 7 of last year, many Twitter users began posting pictures they had taken of strangers that were chubby or overweight with the hashtag “fatshamingweek.” Users also sent out tweets with this hashtag, making statements such as, “If your thighs touch, you’re fat,” “fat chicks: your attractive friends get more free [stuff] than you can imagine and they don’t want to share,” and “Remember: nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

On why a fat shaming week was needed, Return of Kings author “Roosh”, said “We have decided as a group that fat shaming is essential in creating a society of thin, beautiful women who are ashamed for being ugly.”

Many people would feign disgust or offense at these blatantly cruel comments, but is something like fat shaming week really so shocking, what with the images that pervade our media?

The truth is, society has been taught that every body is our business. The way that someone looks is subject to our individual scrutiny and the way that they feel about themselves should be in direct correlation with our personal opinions of them.

Though those who are considered bigger are often the target, all body types are subject to this harsh criticism – curvy, short, tall, athletic, thin, broad, husky and the rest of the spectrum.

“Real women have curves,” is now not only a movie starring America Ferrera, but a motto, often used by women who have felt marginalized and mistreated by the “thin-is-in” culture of the Western world. However, the implications are more than many of them intend to apply. Statements like “real women have curves” and “bones are for dogs and meat is for men,” undermine the value, the worth, and even the humanity of women who are thin.

We believe that we are supposed to hold the power to dictate someone else’s significance and self-esteem, whether we admit it or not. When someone who we don’t find attractive is confident in himself or herself, we experience an irritation that can only be described as offense.

Why is that some people can wear a certain type of bathing suit and others can? Why is it insulting that someone who holds physical attributes you find unattractive, would flaunt those same attributes?

Our body-shaming brigade isn’t for-women-only either. We often paint a portrait of idealized masculinity that excludes much of the male population.

“I definitely feel a lot of pressure to go above and beyond to get that six pack and to stay big,” said sophomore and Olivet athlete Nathan DiCamillo.

While there are movements in place to get women of all shapes and sizes to embrace their natural bodies, such as the Dove beauty campaign and underwear retailer Aerie’s new “The real you is sexy” motto, the fight to get men of differing body types to accept themselves is borderline fictional.

Tall, chiseled frames are still the body type championed in magazines, television, film, and advertising. These images imply that these are not only the most attractive men, but the smartest, the most charismatic, and the best workers and providers.

DiCamillo has noticed that his body type has warranted more respect in his interactions with other people, whereas his siblings who have a lankier build have to earn their respect in other ways.

We do not associate thin men with strength – strength of body, strength of mind, or strength of character.

In cartoons, the villainous male character is often thin and frail. Phineas and Ferb’s Dr. Doofenshmirtz, or Mr. Burns from the Simpsons serve as an example.

On the other hand, chubby males are portrayed as dumb, lazy, or generally unattractive, like Chris and Peter Griffin from Family Guy. Tvtropes.org, a site that lists different reoccurring character types, gives this character trope the title of the “Fat Idiot.” The site says, “In fiction, being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re probably a bad person… maybe you’re just stupid. In any group of characters the fattest one will probably be the dimmest.”

We doubt hefty men’s work ethic, drive, and ability to provide for himself or a family.

People of faith, too, join in on the shaming games.

As Christians, we claim to serve a flawless and awesome God. We affirm his perfect plans. And yet, people of faith are just as prone to finding and creating errors in his design as any other people group.

Modesty is always a topic of interest and debate, especially at Olivet. Though our dress code creates a system of fairness and equality when deciding what is and isn’t appropriate dress, we often self-evaluate what is and is not appropriate for certain body types to wear.

A female student with a larger bust might get more flack about what sorts of tops she wears more often than another student with a smaller bust.

Did God design women who are shapely, with more voluptuous  attributes with less modesty?

The idea is preposterous, and yet we still shame women of certain shapes into believing they have to hide themselves. We shame men into believing that there are only certain, specific traits that will earn them their masculinity. We even shame ourselves into feeling that these culturally imposed norms that are not biblically, spiritually, biologically, or even intelligently indoctrinated are the mold in which we are to adhere to.

Beauty looks different in every culture – long necks, broad shoulders, big feet, tattooed mouths, and plumpness are all features that are esteemed in different societies around the globe.

Beauty is a concept; it is a theory. That theory is broad enough to include every body.

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