United States of Body-Shaming

Nora Turriago '16

Opinions Editor

This past Friday, Kelly Clarkson was fat-shamed by Fox News host Chris Wallace.  Instead of talking politics, Wallace decided to go off-topic to criticize the previous “American Idol” winner:  “She should stay off the deep dish pizza for a little while.” This isn’t the first time Clarkson has been criticized for her weight. Last month, TV personality Katie Hopkins said Clarkson had eaten her backup singers. Women’s bodies continue to be viewed as mere vessels to critique and insult, enforcing supposed notions of what a woman should look like.

These comments make it seem appropriate and even expected for others to unleash their opinions on a body that is not theirs, especially in a disparaging manner. However, that merely serves as a way to further the dangerous cycle of body shaming. When children are exposed to these messages, what impact does that have? What does it mean to grow up in a society that makes it acceptable to insult and comment on the bodies of women? How do you feel a sense of ownership, self-worth and love in the body you live in?

We live in a culture where body shaming is so prevalent that such behavior is considered normal. Women are constantly criticized for their appearance — too fat, too thin, not curvy enough, too curvy and a whole slew of never-ending contradictions. These expectations of a beauty that no one can really fulfill are enforced in our daily lives (in songs, movies and magazine covers) to such an extent that we become accustomed to the messages and fail to realize how unacceptable and damaging they are.

At the forefront of this body-shaming culture are our beloved celebrities: the perfect specimens to demonstrate what is and is not acceptable. Scrutinized and picked apart, celebrities best embody the results a toxic society — from plastic surgery, fad diets, extensive workouts, anorexia and pressure to work off post-pregnancy weight — these celebrities are held up to an inhuman standard. So what happens when a celebrity does not have a “perfect body”? And, furthermore, what happens when this celebrity is quite content with her body and simply does not care to adhere to the pressure of a body-shaming culture?

Fox News host Chris Wallace eventually apologized to Kelly Clarkson, saying: “I sincerely apologize to Kelly Clarkson for my offensive comment. I admire her remarkable talent, and that should have been the focus of any discussion about her.” Yes, Chris, it really is that simple: no one has any business discussing or commenting on the physical appearance of someone else. Unfortunately, I’m sure we’ll only have to wait a few more days until another body shaming scandal makes the headlines.