I see a trend with myself getting angry at things in society and media that others criticize as well, but we still have so much work to do. Today I’m ranting about Hollywood body shaming.
I was inspired by news discussing Jennifer Aniston’s piece on the Huffington Post about her disgust with people constantly ridiculing her and her body. I suggest you all take a few minutes to read it. While she initially mentions the media’s speculation about whether she is pregnant or not, the general message about body shaming is one we can’t afford to ignore. Her focus is on the tabloid’s messages, which are indeed damaging, but the culture those words create for Hollywood itself allow body shaming to occur in the first place.
No matter how far away the celebrity world of Hollywood seems, it’s inescapable. Magazines fill the racks, our computer and television screens fill with their everyday activities. Even if you don’t particularly follow a celebrity, chances are you’ll recognize their name. Their influence in everyday life is astounding, and how people use that influence affects the entirety of the population, positive or negative. The activities that media projects from Hollywood then reflect into everyday life.
It’s important to remind ourselves that these people in the media spotlight are just human. They may have a more public career, but ultimately they are equal with any average citizen. Their public actions can both influence others or bring to focus an underlying issue we may be overlooking for the sheer fact that when it enters the celebrity world, it seems that much more magnified and, dare I say, dramatized. Which in more superficial circumstances is annoying, but with deeper issues, they can spark a change in mindset necessary for further action.
My mind immediately goes to the controversy over the Oscars this year regarding race and all of the content and messages people put out to address lacks of diversity helped us all continue the important conversations about micro-aggressions and everyday racism. Seeing people who make such an impact on our culture speak out and share concerns not only reinforces the importance of our beliefs and efforts, but it may also get people thinking in a new direction they may not have previously considered.
Back to body shaming. Especially with it being “bikini season” (just typing this out makes me cringe), our bodies become the focal point. When the media sets standards for idealistic body types and shapes, the impact that has on any age is huge. Hollywood chooses to dramatize everything, even healthy body fluctuations (might I add that optimal health comes in any size or shape? And that shaming occurs at any ). For those vulnerable to those messages, the headlines are downright damaging. People aren’t born into this world hating their bodies; we learn it. It develops over time. It looks at other bodies in the environment and longs for unrealistic standards. It neglects the beauty each individual body already possesses.
This is coming from someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for going on five years, and even in my younger years, my distaste for my body saw others and longed for something different. I didn’t necessarily strive for a certain model or celebrity body, but that aspect certainly didn’t help. And I know for so many other young people, the media plays is large factor in unhealthy behaviors and mindsets, triggering an often genetic disposition leading down a road of self-destruction.
So when more and more celebrities are deciding to break the barriers of harsh paparazzi questions and negative comments, we need to celebrate it. They are the ones helping to drive grassroots efforts in trends of self-love and body positive attitudes. When increasing numbers of people decide to embrace every inch of their “bodily vessel” (because honestly, it’s just a complex clump of cells, our “earth suit” in which our souls dwell to experience this world), the behavior becomes more normal. Celebrities give others a public image to look up to beyond their own lives.
I’m not saying that I think celebrities are the only inspiration for people. They’re simply background figures who have the power to make a real difference in society. For more private citizens, it takes a large number of us to start a movement, but it takes even just one Hollywood star to release a statement that sends shock waves over the world. Individually, the people we each look up to are most likely family or friends, but society as a whole pays attention to actions in Hollywood. When something happens there, the media will be sure to make us notice. So it’s time to notice the positive contributions these people are making to the self-love movement and continue driving it into our minds how crucial it is for our overall well-being.
I would love to see a day where shaming another’s body is shocking news, rather than someone openly not giving a hoot about outward criticism. The “ideal body” is constantly changing over the years, but wouldn’t it be nice to just say “screw that” and praise everyone for their unique features? That request seems so simple and yet so daunting and unrealistic. We can just take it one day at a time, slowly watching and hoping an evolution is happening.
Topics like this obviously push my buttons, so this won’t be the last time you see posts similar to this. I know at this point I’m not influencing a large number of people, but I want to be at least one voice in the right direction.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie