Fat-Shaming Celebrities Is Having This Horrible Effect On You
It’s amazing how things warp your mind when you’re a kid. Back in the day, I remember waiting in line at the grocery store (as self-checkout wasn’t invented yet) and looking at all the tabloids. Pretty much all of them dealt with weight. Who was too fat? And who should have ditched the spandex? And who’s losing weight way too rapidly? Fat-shaming celebrities was just something everyone did, because “they’re a celebrity, they get paid enough not to care.”
But, they do. A lot. Celebrities may have access to more in terms of nutrition and gym memberships. But, there are so many factors in their life that could still lead to weight gain. And there are times in everyone’s life where the pounds just don’t fall off.
Like many women out there, I’ve had my fair share of weight issues. Looking back at old photos, it’s hard for me not to find one from high school or college where I wasn’t fixated on my appearance. And part of that probably came from those tabloids. As a kid, I learned that it’s a bad thing to be overweight — and if you are, you’re opening yourself up to ridicule.
Obviously, I’ve since learned that the most important thing is to be healthy. After all, you can still be unhealthy while being thin. But it turns out that there’s definitely a scientific link between celebrity fat-shaming and our own weight discrimination.
Canada’s McGill University did research for 11 years to try to find a link between celebrity fat-shaming and our own ideas about weight. They worked with Project Implicit, who tested people about famous incidents. Like, remember the infamous Tyra Banks bathing suit shaming in 2007?
The tests focused on someone’s first reaction — that is, if you see a picture of a celebrity who has gained weight and have an initial bad impression.
Even if we, as people, try hard to remember that behind the appearance is an actual person, there are still some prejudices we have. And that can be traced back to tabloids.
Focusing on implicit attitudes, it was all about that initial reaction. Even though we try to think positively when talking about a “scandal” with others, we may actually be judging the celebrity in our heads. Because in our eyes, being heavy is a bad thing.
Even celebrities who we may view as being slender get fat-shamed by interviewers. Even worse, it’s particularly women who get called out.
Women who have given birth also don’t get a pass. With pregnancy, bodies expand naturally. But, people are more focused on how to “bounce back” after your body has been through such a life-changing ordeal. Why is that?
It should come as no surprise, but fat-shaming is said to increase the chance of eating disorders and depression. Especially if someone constantly gets picked on for weighing more than someone else.
“Psychologists found that instances of celebrity fat-shaming were associated with an increase in women’s implicit negative weight-related attitudes,” the study’s summary reads. “They also found that from 2004-2015, implicit weight bias was on the rise more generally.”
That means that even though it seems we’re all becoming a lot more body positive, those thoughts still exist. We can praise people for not being afraid to put themselves out there, but our first instinct may actually be judgment.
“Weight bias is recognized as one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination; these instances of fat-shaming are fairly widespread not only in celebrity magazines, but also on blogs and other forms of social media,” Amanda Ravary, PhD student and author of the study revealed. And it’s true — with the internet and social media being so popular, it’s hard to escape from celebrity fat-shaming.
These things also have a ripple effect. How many times have you seen a celebrity get fat-shamed while realizing you are heavier than they are?
There’s one particular moment that’s seared into my brain. Back when America’s Next Top Model was fairly new, they used to take height and weight measurements of the girls, for everyone to see.
In Cycle 4, Brita Petersons was eliminated first. One of the reasons why? She was slightly heavier than the other girls. And the judges made no secret about that.
It’d be interesting to know what Tyra thought of that particular moment. Not only was Brita many people’s top choice as a winner, but Tyra knows how it feels to be fat-shamed.
How many young women were watching that moment unfold? How many of them felt like their bodies weren’t good enough after seeing a beautiful young woman being called “thick” on television?
Hopefully, in the future, we can stop seeing “fat” as being “bad.” It’s important to eat right and stay healthy, but bodies literally do come in all shapes and sizes.
So next time you feel the need to judge a celebrity by how much they weigh, remember how much of a consequence that action might have. Anyone who’s listening may feel worse about themselves, even if you consider it an innocent jab.