The Pointlessness of Body Shaming

BY JON ALEXANDER

I know that the Body Shaming phenomenon has been around for a few years but it was only recently I realised how the professionally outraged had begun to use it to try to (I think blindly) create a depressing greyness on Planet Earth.

Body Shaming started off with a war on magazines targeting the typically slim girls in glossy, airbrushed photos, on billboards and featuring in music videos and it’s slowly filtered through to multiple aspects of society in an attempt to pressurise advertisers.

So, the professionally offended/outraged found skinny women threatening and launched a war on “Size Zero” – initially an honourable cause (no one should feel the need to starve themselves or risk eating disorders). Then everyday people became targets.  Body shaming became a general excuse, “how am I meant to feel happy with myself when society expects me to be this way?”

This is where Body Shaming started getting confused or sinister or both. Where all bodies became unacceptable.

What did the Body Shamers use as ammo?

The centre of the Body Shaming storm was a poster that was displayed on the London Underground asking if you were “Beach Body Ready” alongside an attractive woman in a two piece bikini (above). The Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, successfully sought to ban these posters. (I’m not sure many would have noticed the posters until the outrage started. Making the body shamers’ efforts somewhat counterproductive.)

Another was a gym that had the poster “Tired of being fat and ugly…just be ugly” – this had some people up in arms.  People were so horrified by it they just had to share it so that everyone could be equally horrified and disgusted.  I noticed one of my followers on Twitter pointing out that he found it quite offensive, although he wasn’t the intended target – he’s a good looking chap and from various pictures he’s posted over the years he’s got a good body.

That poster was aimed at people like me and I thought it was great. It didn’t motivate me to join a gym again but if I was going to I’d probably join that one as I wouldn’t feel as self conscious there as at the last one I went to.  (My nickname on Twitter with a few people is “Tubs”.  I actually smile when they tweet me and that’s the first thing they say. I don’t cry, I don’t get offended and I most certainly don’t get outraged.  I have taken any gentle ribbing over the years in good humour.  I even changed my name to “Moob-A-Licious” at one point on Twitter after a selfie I’d taken left me with a rather pronounced chest.)

The reality is I doubt many people care what you look like.  If you’re bothered you won’t get a man because he’s too busy looking for someone that looks like the poster you’ve seen on the metro then chances are he’s not worth knowing anyway – he’s in for a lot of disappointment and so are you.

The need to constantly be outraged and make others feel bad about their bodies is more a weapon for some people trying desperately to find excuses for why they can’t succeed in life. An utterly pointless pursuit.

The result is that other people are forced to change or adapt themselves to cover this insecurity. But then who has a perfect body? Body Shamers just create a fuzzy grey mess. We should all cover up in burkhas?

The offended brigade won’t take responsibility for it, but they should be pressing the positive message home that it’s okay to have different body types rather than going out of their way negatively seeking outrage. Thereby reflecting the reality of different shapes and sizes. Just because someone is considered “sexy” and on a poster doesn’t mean their bodies are wrong either. It most certainly doesn’t mean that images of beautiful people should be banned.

Companies are going to go with what works to advertise their goods – if a young woman draped over a car sells cars, that’s who they’ll use to sell cars.  If a scantily clad man in his early twenties is wearing shorts and flexing his muscles to promote sportswear and it works, they’ll stick with him.

At the end of the day, companies are in this world to make money. Not to pander to a few outraged people that probably won’t even buy their products anyway.

I know it’s easier said than done, but, frankly, if you’re always looking at others to adapt to make you feel better, you will never be happy.

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7 thoughts on “The Pointlessness of Body Shaming

  1. Personally I’m of the opinion that all online petitions should be ignored. People who ‘care’ so much about an issue that they click on a button on something they see online to register how much they care don’t really care that much at all.

    The amount of spam that is generated by automated outrage petitions now is almost as much as that generated by the ‘new, larger you’ potency pills aimed at men’s parts and the mythical Nigerian princes with hundreds of millions of dollars that he desperately needs to deposit in your bank account.

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  2. You really should’ve joined that gym, Tubbs. Then you wouldn’t need to walk through the door sideways. Am I doing body-shaming right??

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  3. Unearthed school reports where height and weight were recorded each term, noted that grew from skinny 12 yr old 7 stoner into 6 foot pus 14 stoner, who was a useful schoolboy rugby forward, and shot putter at 18. Inspiration, not body image posters nor twit ter in the 1960s, but a top notch PE Department that included a very talented lady discus thrower, and male head of PE, who had broken 10 seconds for 100 yards sprint. Now a little bit bit heavier, I was amused when a twit terror once described me, sight unseen, whose twitter symbol was an egg, as a “sad, little old chap”; I laughed at the buffoon, but,regrettably there are people of all ages who post revealing photos and then get hang ups about less than flattering responsive tweets,or, horror of horrors their “body images” go viral on social media.

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  4. I generally agree.
    Where I part company with the ‘non-interventionist’ brigade, mildly & discretely, is that I find they have not taken stock of all that happens by way of sensible intervention & mechanisms which support the way of doing business we have in operation now. We all tend to happily blind-eye what serves & supports what we like, to take it for granted & assume it in the natural order of a healthy society & marketplace. But all the supports & components we take for granted don’t bear scrutiny as entirely uncontroversial or natural, they are not as we tend to think of them, the inevitable unchallengeable framework of civilisation. (& of course we similarly ignore any question that their costs be borne by us all, as if we all benefit, as if we’re all on board as to their design & merit.) They are however what suits most of us. So, since how we do things now is less in the natural order of things & more a construct beneficial to the the generally secure, I am not averse to ensuring our ordinary everyday market square & highways being steered to be friendly to what works best for most people, reasonably considerate to them, friendly to their well being, in mild & modest ways. & I’m not averse to our reasonably & mildly discouraging what disrupts & undermines & divides irresponsibly.
    To be friendlier & to make more convenient what serves most better does not outlaw or unreasonably restrict the more particular loud/ aggressive/ noxious/ commercial activities of attention lovers. It lessens the extent to which attention lovers & commercial activists suck up all the oxygen , & leave the mild & unassuming gasping for breath.

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  5. People don’t care about what people look like. Generally true. Yet I see 80 year olds at the supermarket struggling in high heels with £100 hair-dos. They clearly care about their appearance even though they look like Grannies in high heels. Horses for courses.

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  6. Yup, nonsense. Do a survey and ask people if they prefer seeing skin products or fashion items advertised by Gisele or Diane Abbot in a bikini. Gisele wins. Get over it peeps.

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