Thursday, February 7, 2013

stop the shaming.

Sometimes I really like social media... and sometimes, I find reasons to be incredibly frustrated by what I see. This isn't about being almost 27 and seeing all the engagements and weddings and babies. That's not frustrating, because it's easy to be happy for your friends. What I'm talking about is all this body shaming I have been seeing lately.

I've talked about body issues before, here and here. But today I saw something online that got me thinking about them again. A friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook that basically said that crossfit doesn't make you fat, cupcakes make you fat. And while it is true that if you eat lots of cupcakes, you'll probably gain weight, somehow this particular meme annoyed me.

Part of it? I don't do crossfit. That's a choice I've made, and I just am not interested in it. I would rather go running or swimming or do some yoga. I could be more active than I am, but I go to the gym or exercise a few times a week and I feel mostly okay about myself.

The other part is probably that I bought a cupcake last night, and I ate it. And it was delicious. I like cupcakes.

Look, I know I'm not a poster child for body weight and health. I try to take care of myself, and I also try to enjoy myself. Sometimes I go to the gym after work, and sometimes I go out for dinner and have a beer. Either way, it shouldn't really matter to you what I do. Just like it shouldn't matter to me what you do.

We've got to stop body shaming each other.

You might be body shaming without even knowing it. These are some interesting examples of how that happens. And before you get on me about how so many people are obese in this country (and around the world), I know. I get it, I am familiar with the statistics. But just because someone isn't making the same choices as you, doesn't automatically make her wrong. We can live our lives with  different diets, exercise plans, sleeping schedules, and all kinds of other unique choices that don't really impact each other as much as some may think.

It might just be part of our society. I watched an excellent documentary called "Miss Representation" (recommended, if you're into that sort of thing), and it talks about women's portrayal in the media and how that makes women feel certain ways about how they should look or act. Then this article on their blog talks about body shaming and Halloween costumes. Why is this okay? Why do we accept this public view of women in general?

And then I think about Beyonce and her performance at the Super Bowl, and how many people were so ... upset? by what she was wearing and what she was presenting. But I thought this summed up perfectly what I thought about it:

Was BeyoncĂ© attractive, sexy even? To be sure. But more than anything, she was powerful. Few things are more threatening to a male audience than a beautiful, powerful woman who doesn’t need a man, or even a male gaze.
Perhaps folk didn’t consciously notice there wasn’t a single male performer on stage. But for those few minutes, there were no male voices and no male bodies in control, only women who refused to be owned. And it wasn’t women just dancing up there, though the cameras largely focused on that. The women onstage were creating, everything.  They appropriated traditional male images and transformed them female ones — not women just imitating men. They were claiming roles and instruments traditionally held by men: the horns and saxophones, the pyrotechnic guitar solo.
They were fierce, but refused to be masculinized or objectified.

I guess what I'm wondering is... why do we spend so much time building ourselves up and putting each other down? Wouldn't our time be better spent on celebration of ourselves than chucking garbage at people who make different choices in their lifestyles, or people who look different or dress different or whatever? Instead of being on a level with Regina George and the Mean Girls clique, we should remember those messages of girl power that were so popular in the 90s. And, instead of wishing to be like what we see in magazines, we should remember that photoshop doesn't apply to real people in the real world, and it shouldn't matter anyway. Who you are is pretty special.

Like this video says, every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is.

This turned out a little longer and a little more rambling than I intended, but I want you to know, when I share my thoughts about my own running or a sandwich I ate, it's not because I think you must do those things too. I want you to realize that who you are is pretty great, and you don't have to change because of what you see in the media or what you read in a meme on Facebook. Sticks and stones might break your bones, and words can hurt a lot, but remembering that you're a great YOU is the most important thing of all.


  1. amazing. I love this and I love you.

  2. I love this post. And you're awesome.

  3. No. Cupcakes don't make a person fat. The choices that person makes, day in and day out, the responsibility they take for themselves and their actions - that leads to fatness and obesity. Maybe they don't know about good choices. Who knows.

    I wrote about my irritation with cupcakes being called evil a while back - drives me nuts.

    I absolutely love your body image posts. One day I will get around to posting mine, which is half written and needing more thought.

    Thanks for sharing great links too, as always!

  4. Lindsay, this is a great post. I had to call myself out a few days ago: I was on the track and totally judging this woman for being too skinny. It was from a place of concern, but I had to tell myself: I don't know her life. I have no idea if she has an eating disorder, or is recovering from an eating disorder or another medical issue. There is a part of us as humans that always want to rank ourselves with the people around us: are we thinner, fatter, better, worse and the best thing we can do is be aware of it and try to alter our thinking. This post is just great. You are just great.

  5. I like both doughnuts AND cupcakes...I guess that makes me a total fatty in the land of social media. Great post (and thanks to FatFluential for retweeting it).
    I think it is far to easy to get caught up in feeling like you're inadequate because you're not doing what everyone else is...thanks for the reminder.