Body Shaming – is it ever justifiable?

After a heated debate on Instagram over a fashion A-lister’s physical appearance, I realise that this is an issue some people feel very strongly about, myself included. I couldn’t help but respond in defense to some of the comments which I found to be completely rude and out of order (I’ve posted some throughout the article for purpose of context):

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I’m not completely oblivious to the long reigning standards that have been perpetuated throughout the fashion media, but at which point do we stop ourselves in calling out a model’s size and remember that they are in reality a real person with real feelings?

Yes there are health implications associated with weight, but the moment we begin to generalise a specific body type as unhealthy without actually knowing the person’s actual condition of health, then we are simply just partaking in mass discrimination.

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My own weight is something I’ve been quite aware of lately due to friends and family telling me I’d gained some… How I feel about my own body is more important than what somebody else thinks of it though. And so I have had some first hand experience with body perception issues as well as having spoken to several models who felt self-conscious when comparing themselves to the “industry standard”.

For some people on the outside of the industry looking in they will most likely have an opinion based on personal ideals, but for a working model who is always under public scrutiny and having to deal with comments on a daily basis it’s a different ball game altogether.

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It’s a grand generalisation to say that the entire fashion industry is responsible for the way men and women feel about themselves. I wouldn’t give anybody the power to dictate how I feel about myself within my own skin, yet this is a power that is often attributed to “the industry”?

The industry however, is made of individuals like you and I, who form companies, and whose sole survival depends on the ability to make a profit, and to do so they market an image of “beauty” that many men and women aim to aspire to. They desire the lifestyle associated with the brand and become loyal customers. This is just how advertising and the consumer psyche works.

On a personal level though, we should probably stop kidding ourselves into thinking that we should all be the “perfect” size (whatever that may be). Athletes train intensively to achieve fitness on a competitive level, but we are not all athletes. In the same way, models rely on their appearance for their livelihood, and that can also take a rigorous and disciplined routine to maintain. These routines can be, for the average person though, very challenging to keep up with.

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The general public would do well to realise that campaigns are not reality, and are in fact a fantasy world dreamed up by a creative team, and so to try and live up to something that isn’t even real, is a path not really worth pursuing.

To address the headline, after considering the fashion industry as a whole as well as its constituent parts, I would conclude by saying this: No, it shouldn’t be justifiable to body-shame anyone. Even if they genuinely care about a person’s health and well-being, it’s not their place to shame a person for their size, especially not publicly.

Projecting our personal opinions of what body shape is right for someone is not even their business in the first place. Indeed obesity and anorexia are serious health conditions but directing rude comments towards a person who you suspect may have said condition does nothing to help and can in some cases just be making things worse.

So please in future, think twice before blaming and shaming somebody for the way they appear. It’s their body, their vehicle they use to journey through life, and their choice in how they regulate it.

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