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Gender Block: body shaming

Hillary Di Menna

According to body shaming is defined as, “inappropriate negative statements and attitutes toward another person’s weight or size.” Take, for instance, this sadly classic scenario: a lady passes a group of others who erupt in whispers about what’s wrong with her clothes—muffin top, the clothes were made for thinner girls, the shirt shows how bony she is. The internet is full of body shaming memes telling us heavier women are lazy or that thin girls aren’t “real” women. This cycle of hatred—thin vs fat—has serious consequences, such as depression and eating disorders. The Canadian Mental Health Association research says eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illness and Statistics Canada says women are affected by these disorders 10 times more than men.

On November 20 Jezebel posted an article with the headline “You Gotta See These ‘Regular’ Women Looking Sexy-as-Hell in Lingerie” The article shared that customers of the plus size lingerie line Curvy Girl were posting pictures of themselves in the garments (as opposed to paid models). The first comment, echoed by many to follow, was: “So, obese now equals normal. Oh America…”

Melissa A. Fabello wrote about thin privilege for Everyday Feminism, as a person who has never experienced fat discrimination, “I have never had someone dismiss me as a dating prospect based on my body type, nor had someone scoff, openly, while watching me eat French fries in public.” Fabello makes a point  that though thinner women can hate their bodies, they do not feel oppression because of them the way larger women would—thin clothing sizes are available, food choices aren’t judged, health isn’t questioned.

I applaud her point, but I’m not sure this is true: What about the little girl at the beginning of the documentary Miss Representation, who was crying that because she is thin people say she has an eating disorder? It’s an endless cycle, and all body shaming really accomplishes is turning women against each other.  Time is spent hating our own bodies, hating others, trying to figure out what is normal— then how we can surpass normal. That time should be spend being engaged in making the big political decisions that affect us. The beauty industry thrives on the money we spend out of hate. Shame that manipulation, not the female body.

A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna writes Gender Block every week and maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.

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