Celebrity Body Shaming Is Bad For Everyone

oscarsThere seems to be an acceptance out there of celebrity body bashing. I mentioned the other day how hurtful I think this is, not just to the celebrities themselves, but also to those we engage in this sort of talk with. Why? Because if you are willing to talk like that about someone famous, someone you have never met, then your peers are left wondering what judgments you might make of them. Just as the schoolyard bully puts others down to build him or herself up, that is what we are attempting to do when we pick apart celebrities, but instead, it brings everyone down.

One of the conversations that I overheard the day after the Oscars, was about Renee Zellweger. Apparently (I did not watch the show, but saw a clip later) she had a hard time presenting an award. The conversation began with “What was wrong with Renee!?”, but quickly escalated into full-on bashing of her physical appearance, even going so far as to suggest that she is “too slitty-eyed” and should “get an eye lift”. Instead of discussing her behavior, which is something she has control over, this group of people took the easy road and picked her apart physically. First of all, Renee is a gorgeous woman. She is also very talented. Whatever trouble she was having that night, whether it be induced by stress, alcohol, etc. is not really anyone’s concern, but if you want to comment on her less than stellar presentation that night, so be it. But to make it about her looks is low. I got to wondering, if she were of a different ethnicity, would these folks have dared comment on her eyes being squinty? Would they say that to a friend?

I also overheard much discussion about the dress that Melissa McCarthy wore. Comments about her weight were rampant, and many people resorted to calling her names. I heard her compared to a blanket and a tent. One person even said it hurt them to look at her. Ouch! One thing I want to point out, is that Melissa McCarthy is not a size zero, and therefore many designers won’t even make her a dress. Her choices are far more limited than someone as svelte as Anne Hathaway, for example. However, she chose a dress she liked, and I think she rocked it! Much of the criticism also focused on her hair, which was blown out to be big. I heard several people say she looked like she styled it by putting her head out of the car’s moon roof and letting the wind blow it back. Again, would you say that to your friend? I also just have to say, I wish I could make my hair that big!

These two women represent just two examples of celebrities I heard mean-spirited things said about after the Oscars. Honestly, I think some of those who engaged in this kind of talk, were convinced that because these people are famous, that makes it OK. Well, it is not OK.

Who are we to say what another person should or should not wear? Yes, clothing can convey some things about a person, but that idea is also a deceiving one. Sometimes someone is wearing something, and it has little to do with them as a person. A short hemline or a plunging neckline doesn’t mean someone is “easy”. Piles of jewelry do not indicate that someone is rich. Sometimes what we wear is more about how we feel wearing it. Clothes should make you feel good, confident, comfortable– whatever that may be for each individual person. I, for example, wear jeans and a hoodie some days. Others I wear a skirt, tights, and blouse with pumps. I change my clothes to fit the day and my mood. My clothing choices have nothing to do with anyone else, and neither should a celebrity’s. They are not getting dressed for you.

I urge everyone, stop partaking in a culture of judgement. Think before you speak of the impact your words might have. Are you contributing something positive, or are you making it seem OK for us to say hurtful things about one another. If you wouldn’t say it to someone you know, don’t say it about someone you don’t. Because, believe it or not, it does have an impact on who you say it to, and those who might overhear. And if you do overhear it, speak up and say “Hey, judging someone’s appearance is wrong, no matter who they are.”

Note: Also check out this great article, by Sally McGraw, who blogs over at Already Pretty: “Why Fashion-Related Judgment Is Damaging and Unnecessary

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