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.