No Shame in the Game

20 Jan

photo courtesy of Annie Leibovitz/Vogue

I remember when I was a teenager, and my mom and I were shopping at the mall. I was wearing an oversized gray sweater and gray leggings with tennis shoes (trust me, I have elephant brain). As we were browsing the juniors section I hear a guy talking to his friends about the “big girl” looking at clothes too small for her. I tried not to pay too much attention to it, thinking he’s talking about someone else. But as I picked up a dress, he spoke a little louder about how I was so big I looked like a cloud (the gray) and how I needed to just put the dress down. My mom was out of earshot and on the other side of the section, so I just left and went to her.

I’ve lived most of my life well above 150 pounds on my 5-foot-2 frame. My skin has hardened to such comments, but my tolerance for bullying behavior like that has become vapor thin.

In the past few months, body-shaming has become more popular. Cloaked under the guise of drawing awareness, businesses like Lululemon, organizations like PETA and even feminist blog Jezebel have made it their business to point out their perceived flaws with a larger body type.

Last week “Girls” multi-hyphenate Lena Dunham appeared on the cover and in a nice spread for Vogue magazine. Vogue, like most fashion magazines, is known for extensive photo retouching of photos. A longer arm here, a slimmer neck there, lower lighting right there, it’s a thing that happens. But Jezabel, which has been an ardent supporter of Dunham’s for some time, offered $10,000 for unretouched photos.

Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself “really” looks like. …This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she’s fine just the way she is.
Jezebel’s editor-in-chief Jessica Coen

Within a couple hours, the site got the images and Clawd’ve mercy, the images were retouched! Coen herself admitted that there wasn’t a big difference between the originals and the retouched ones. But she stood by her argument that this was about Vogue painting an unrealistic image. You what else is unrealistic? Makeup, pushup bras, high heels, spanx, hairspray, the lighting on “The View.” Everyone does something to make themselves look or feel better. Instagram feeds are full of filtered images to put people in the best light, but Jezabel has no qualms about that. Vogue has been doing this type of thing for years.

I see no problem with retouching as long as it’s not ridiculous. There’s one shot of Dunham where her arm is missing. There are some shots Vogue uses that make people look like bobbleheads. But there’s no need to shame Dunham’s body type, which isn’t totally uncommon to see, to make a point about a misperceived wrong.

Recently animal-rights group PETA was accused of fat-shaming by several media outlets for its “Plan V” campaign, PETA’s attempt to enter the reproduction debate with it’s own agenda. PETA wrote a letter to “population-stabilization” group Population Connection after a report came out that Plan B contraception may not work effectively on women over 176 pounds.

Fat shaming is not now, nor has it ever been, an effective way to get women’s weight under control. Weight is a very personal thing. It is probably the only outward aspect of a person that is still considered open for debate. It is also something that can be very hard to control.

One person’s beliefs shouldn’t dictate how you live your life. Further more, PETA should have done more research before suggesting that women over 176 pounds need to just go vegan so they can use Plan B. The animal-rights organization issued a statement after being called out for fat-shaming, saying that it only wanted to offer another option. The people behind the original statement didn’t take into account how sensitive an issue weight is.

If you ever feel yourself on the receiving end of this type of bullying, understand that whoever’s throwing it at you doesn’t really know you. Someone who loves you wouldn’t make you feel ashamed of being who you are. Whether you’re a work in progress or at the end of your weight-loss journey, it’s no one’s right to tell you how to look or live your life. Do you, boo!

2 Responses to “No Shame in the Game”


  1. On Prince Fielder’s Body Issue Cover | I'm Skinny, Now What? - July 9, 2014

    […] made my feelings about fat shaming perfectly clear: it’s a no-no. No one, no matter where he or she is on the journey, deserves […]

  2. Biggest Losers and Winners | I'm Skinny, Now What? - February 10, 2014

    […] don’t want to shame her results because that would make me a hypocrite. She was a swimmer in her youth, so she had an athletic background that helped her along the […]

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