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Opinion – Stop body shaming women in the public eye

Recent online commentary negatively targeting Bebe Rexha’s weight gain proves that discourse around female celebrity’s appearance is still rife on social media. Retiring this inherently toxic form of trolling is long overdue.

You’d think we’d have grown tired of obsessing over women’s bodies by now, especially within industries that significantly influence how we perceive ourselves.

I’m referring, of course, to the contradictory nature of modern celebrity culture. Many brands and influencers encourage us to seek ‘perfection’ while also promoting mental health campaigns, denouncing eating disorders, and stressing the importance of self-worth.

Despite the best efforts of those in the public eye who are truly dedicated to promoting a healthy self-image – Lizzo being a notoriously pioneering force in this particular fight – fat-shaming and skinny-shaming prevails.

Just last week, Bebe Rexha made headlines after she took to social media to address the issue for the second time.

The first was in May, when she opened up about her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), saying ‘you don’t know what someone’s going through. But I feel like, we’re in 2023. We should not be talking about people’s weight.’

Reigniting the debate on this inherently toxic form of trolling, her more recent decision to call out those commenting on how she ‘quickly jumped 30 pounds’ comes on the back of similar incidents involving Ariana Grande and Jorja Smith.

Grande, who was the target of backhanded remarks earlier this year regarding her weight-loss, has made a point of how damaging it can be to pay such close attention to a celebrity’s physical wellbeing.

‘I know I shouldn’t have to explain that, but I do feel like maybe having an openness and some sort of vulnerability here will [mean] something good might come from it,’ she shared in a candid video.

‘Healthy can look different. Even if you are coming from a loving place and a caring place, that person probably is working on it or has a support system that they are working on it with.’

Echoing this sentiment, Smith, who throughout her career has been subject to a barrage of abuse continually questioning whether she’s either ‘curvy or expecting,’ revealed in 2019 that she no longer reads comments from her followers for this very reason.

@arianagrande♬ original sound – arianagrande

In 2023, nothing has changed and fame remains tainted with a relentless accompanying chorus that informs women that they are too big, too small, too natural, too fake, too little, too much. The list goes on.

The truth is, having a platform of any kind has worn away boundaries. It absolutely shouldn’t mean that unsolicited weight-orientated commentary is necessary.

I’m not going to sit here and list why our fixation with other’s bodies is a problem, however.

I’m simply going to reiterate the importance of normalising that bodies are forever fluctuating, and that the message we send to impressionable young people when we reduce a female celebrity’s entire existence to her appearance is only causing harm.

In the words of Lizzo: ‘Do you see the delusion? Do we realise that artists are not here to fit into your beauty standards? Artists are here to make art. And this body is art. I wish that comments costed y’all money, so we could see how much time we are fucking wasting on the wrong thing.’