Special thanks to fellow blogger, Nicole Aguilar (NikkiNurtures.com) for her collaboration on this article about body shaming.
One of my long-time Facebook friends posted a status update that blew me out of the water. Apparently, people on Twitter were body shaming Lady Gaga after her Super Bowl performance. Because some of her exposed belly skin didn’t lay perfectly flat during her high-flying, energetic performance, twits labeled her fat.
I’m not a Gaga fan. I’m so out of touch with her music that, when my husband, son, and I caught part of her half-time show, I honestly thought it was Madonna. My son stifled his giggle and said: “That’s Lady Gaga.” However, I do know a little about who she is.
I do not agree with (most of) her politics, but I know that she lends a voice to those that frequently have none. For that, I admire her. She also battled eating disorders (Anorexia/Bulimia) most of her life. She’s an outspoken advocate for eating disorder awareness. So, I found it ironic that she was the body shaming target.
Almost as disturbing as the tweets, were the comments in reactions to some of the “news” posts addressing it. For instance, some responded, saying they agreed with the twits. People instantly responded “That’s just because you are fat yourself!” as if body shaming that person suddenly became acceptable. Or it degraded into political bickering with some suggesting all the insult-slinging came from supporters representing one political party or the other. What’s the matter with you people? Didn’t your mommy teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right?
Before I go further, let me define body shaming, so we are both using the same definition for this discussion. Google says:
the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.
So, body shaming isn’t relegated to the dark depths of teasing someone that’s overweight. It includes bullying someone because they are short. It can include embarrassing someone because they are underweight. Or making fun of Lady Gaga because she has a woman’s body. Shaming someone because their body doesn’t meet your expectations is destructive and harmful. Just because they are famous – or a person you don’t know – doesn’t mean that words lose their sting.
Alicia’s Experiences with Body Shaming
I’m 4’10. In high school, I weighed 98 pounds. When I dressed out in gym class, the “popular” girls would tease me and call me fat – as if being almost nude in front of your peers wasn’t humiliating enough. Looking back, I realize that I was actually at my an ideal weight and in good shape for my height. However, their words still hurt. I tried to dress out in the bathroom stalls or would wrap myself in a towel to hide as I changed into regular clothes.
More recently, on the same workout video I made, one person said that I was “too fat to talk about fitness.” Another said I was a “twig” who had no understanding of what it takes to lose weight. I haven’t made another fitness video since then. The comments didn’t devastate me, but I needed to take a step back for analysis. My doctor says my weight is fine. So does my insurance company – for the first time in almost 20 years, I’m at a healthy weight. I lost 60 pounds, so I DO know what it takes.
- Body shaming comes in many forms. It’s not just aimed at people who are overweight. It is JUST as inappropriate to make fun of thin people.
- If you are on the receiving end, try not to take the comments to heart. I know this isn’t always possible, especially if the comments come from someone close to you. If it’s someone you don’t know (such as online), look at it for what it is – a mean-spirited troll. IF it IS someone close to you, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship.
- Words hurt. Just because you don’t know the person, doesn’t mean it won’t impact them. Why would you waste the energy typing something that you would never say in person? If you are the type to say it in person, you are a jerk and need to reevaluate your own self-worth. I’m guessing it’s around your ankles.
- Body size has nothing to do with who you are. It is not your identity. We all have beauty. There are a lot of things worse that you could be besides the owner of an imperfect body. For example, you could be culturally irrelevant and not recognize Lady Gaga!
If Lady Gaga is fat, then the rest of us are whales… No seriously, I would like to ask… what should women look like? People that hide behind their computer screens seem to think that everyone should look a certain way or there is some set in stone definition of beauty. No, wait. Women like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and Ashely Graham are curvy and fabulous, but Lady Gaga is fat. I’m sorry, what?! I think my brain just exploded. How do we celebrate the curves of one woman and shun the curves of
How do we celebrate the curves of one woman and shun the curves of another? How do we celebrate the slender, athletic physique of a woman and then reject it on another?! First off, let’s stop taking it upon ourselves to comment on someone’s body. Secondly, I’m sure the many keyboard warriors tweeting and blogging about women’s bodies have perfect bodies themselves. I’m sure you all just embody perfection in every way… Puh-lease. Sit down.
I’m not sure how tall Lady Gaga is, but she looks like she weighs about 115lbs soaking wet. Personally, I believe the number on the scale means NOTHING. But let’s talk about her body for a moment, shall we? She has toned arms, beautiful legs, tight external and internal obliques and a trim waist. Maybe you missed it, but she also has visible rectus abdominous muscles. Maybe they’re not shredded, bro, but they’re there and it’s probably more than you have, Twitter Crusader. Lady Gaga has a little feminine softness to her stomach as well; why are we going crazy over this? At my thinnest, I wasn’t as tight as her, nor did I have the confidence to wear a bare midriff. Also, have we forgotten that this woman has struggled with an eating disorder in her past? All the haters should be ashamed of themselves.
Nikki’s Experience with Body shaming
If you haven’t picked it up by my tone yet, this is a hot button issue for me because I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and poor body image. I know what the opinions of strangers can do to your self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s not just the people that are close to you that hurt and influence you, society hurts too. Allow me to get personal in hopes of getting some of you to shift your mindset and really think about the insults you throw under the guise of it being your “opinion”.
I grew up with a sister that was slender no matter what she ate. She was athletic too. I hit puberty at 11. I got boobs, hips and curves early… I also started struggling with weight early on. My family would make little comments that I didn’t know stayed with me until I was in my 20’s. I always wanted to change, but because of stress, it was hard to lose weight. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I really made a change to my lifestyle and the weight started melting off. All of the “you look awesome” and “keep going” comments tipped me over the edge at one point.
I started working out 2-3 times a day and eating 1000 calories or less. I focused on the scale. I dropped from 175lbs to 108lbs. How I got there, was not healthy. Looking back, I see how dangerous it was and I fully acknowledge that I gave myself an eating disorder over something that doesn’t even matter… WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK.
I wound up gaining some weight back after my career took off because I didn’t have time to spend my life in the gym. Honestly, I’m grateful for that. Sure, at first, it threw me into a depression, but then I realized… I can do it RIGHT this time. I can work through the love of my body, not hate. I can be the healthiest version of myself. I can’t change my frame; I need to embrace my Latin booty and big boobs. I no longer use others as my #bodygoals; I use myself.
As someone who has hated themselves and knows the impact of what the beauty industry can do to a girl when I see people body shaming women, I really lose my mind. No one IS fat. Some people have more fat than others but it doesn’t define them. We’re not all built the same. We don’t all have the same goals and there is definitely not one standard of beauty OR the perfect body. This is all a state of mind.
So, I ask the people that may body shame from time to time or maybe all the time… ARE YOU PERFECT? If not, I suggest taking a seat. And, even if your body is “perfect”, you may also take a seat. No one asked you. No one has to conform to your ideals. Don’t be the reason someone develops an eating disorder. Choose your words wisely. Be kind. And never forget what you learned in Pre-School… “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Learn more about Nikki:
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.