After the BodyGossip Flashmob event on Friday, undoubtedly many pictures were posted on various social networking sites after the event, as you have seen. A few comments on a recent picture, however got me thinking and urged me to write this blog post.
On one of the pictures uploaded, three people proceeded to comment on a picture of my good friend and I, exclaiming what can only be described weight focused comments about my friend 'you look so tiny', 'you look like you've lost weight' and the worst being 'don't make me go over there and feed you a burger'. Barely anybody decided to comment on what we actually HAD done, dedicate our day to appreciating our bodies and trying to encourage others to do the same. And these comments just prove that no matter what we do, people are still obsessed about weight and what size people are.
My friend is anorexic. I am a former anorexic. All people commenting on the picture knew of my friends anorexia. Does this give them the right to use the opportunity to comment on her weight? Of course not. Just because they knew of her eating disorder it does not give them right to outright the fact they thought she'd lost weight publicly on a Facebook comment. Surely they would have the decency to understand that just 'eating a burger' does not cure your eating disorder. Would the same people have said the same thing we were overweight? Of course not. Because that would be wrong.
Some would argue the comments were out of compassion. If any of these people showed an inch of compassion they'd take the time to phone or e-mail or message my friend to see how she was and declare their concerns, a few of these people don't even know my friend and I well enough to even state the concerns in the way that she did. We know each other through our eating disorders. And that's all. There's no compassion there, it's one person refusing to see beyond an exterior, once more.
Plus, my friend knows she is anorexic. I know she doesn't want to be like this, she knows she doesn't want to be like this. If anyone knew her as well as I do they'd know that she fights this beast of an illness every single day and wants to recover. Why not recognise that she's done an amazing thing by attending an event promoting body confidence and banishing body shame rather than doing the complete opposite and encouraging her to feel worse about herself. My friend is not a number. She isn't defined by what she looks like, or her weight. She's a human being fighting an illness.
I too, used to get similar comments when I was younger. I'm one of those people who people think it's acceptable to attempt to grab my stomach and say 'but there's nothing there'! (drives me mad, don't ever do it) In the last year working where I currently work I used to get so many comments on my weight from management and other members of staff and what I was eating - would they have said the same thing if I was overweight? 'Go and eat a burger'. Of course not.
It's really made me realise how as a society people are STILL so pre-occupied with weight and what people look like. It makes me even more determined to work with BodyGossip to banish fat AND skinny shaming and just see a body for what it is. It's flaws and imperfections. Eating disorder or no eating disorder. These people you're criticising have lives, too. They have feelings. Calling someone painfully thin is as bad as calling someone fat. I want people to look at pictures of me and recognise me for what I've done and for what the pictures stand for, for example the BodyGossip event, rather then be pre-occupied with what I look like, or whether I have gained weight (which I have, but who cares, I've recovered from an eating disorder!), or what my make-up/hair/clothes look like. I want pictures to stand and symbolise memories for me, not to remind myself of comments from others and what they thought I looked like.
It's the reason why I don't buy magazines anymore. There's far too much preoccupation with whether so and so has lost weight or whether the next celebrity has been spotted at the gym as opposed to talent and success. That makes me quite sad, really. In my eyes, people looked at the picture of me and my friend and saw my friend for her illness and not for her as a person, what she stands for, which are so many inspiring and amazing things I can't even count. I'm not friends with her because she has an eating disorder. I'm friends with her because she inspires me and she makes me happy. I've probably repeated this idea a lot already, but why can we not see past how people look anymore? I'm all for being happy, thanks.
Other peoples bodies are technically none of your business. We're all beautiful, and we're all different, and that makes us beautiful. So enough with the shaming, okay? Because that is what will make you ugly.
I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!