I have received numerous messages from those who read my piece on the Daily Mail/Jennifer Aniston fiasco (you can read it here if you so wish) and wanted to highlight the equally damaging skinny shaming that is also rife in the media these days. There is a fair amount of commotion surrounding Cheryl Cole's current frailty and I resent this mirrored form of attacking a woman for her size with equal indignation.
Cheryl has lost a significant amount of weight recently and it is very possible that she is battling through something somewhat traumatic. This is a woman whose physical appearance is inherently linked to her career and she has, like most females in the spotlight, been told to lose weight numerous times by the higher powers that be (often men with rounded torsos and thinning hair) in order to achieve maximum success and monetary gain. We can't know for sure what the explanation is behind Cheryl's diminishing frame but whether she is struggling with personal traumas or purposefully dieting to achieve an emaciated figure (which would be an understandable response to the immense pressure she's been put under to remain industry style thin), she is clearly going through something difficult. So shall we insult her and scream at her to add to the stress and intense scrutiny she already endures as a female in the public eye?
There are numerous charming bystanders on all forms of social media offering encouraging comments of support to the petite pop star such as 'Go eat a burger' and 'Ew gross'. Not only are they totally unhelpful (as if eating a burger shall solve a deep rooted issue) they are downright heartless and nasty. What if your daughter ends up having a naturally similar body size, will you call her an 'ugly skeleton' every morning? It's as if we are forgetting that these are REAL human beings; someone's wife, someone's sister, someone's daughter.
If Chezza has fallen victim to a multi-million pound industry which relies on women striving for physical perfection, then she needs serious help and support in private, not a bunch of tossers declaring her head too big for her body on the Mail Online (who you can totally rely on to call her 'chubby' if she dares to go above a size eight). I'd like to remind those wonderful commentators that despite their arrogant beliefs, they don't own Cheryl's body. None of us do, but by constantly expressing our views on what belongs to somebody else, we are insinuating that, due to the industry they have chosen, their body is not totally theirs, and there lies the quandary.
There is a constant stream of criticism thrown at celebrities who are deemed unsatisfactory role models for young girls. I begrudge this. Because someone's talent (or lack thereof - TOWIE I'm looking at you) leads them to fame does not mean they have declared themselves perfect people or projected themselves as great role models for thirteen year old girls. They still are those thirteen year old girls just a decade or two later and they're still trying to figure it all out. I think it's unfair to put these women on an impossibly lofty pedestal and then attack them when they inevitably fall. They are human, just like us. I'm sure plenty of the Mumsnet crew will criticise tainted celebrities but have a similar array of minor hiccups or major periods of difficulty hidden away in their Habitat closets. Well, these celebs aren't any different and haven't claimed to be.
Cheryl doesn't owe you or your children anything, let alone becoming a faultless being (which doesn't exist, by the way) so that you feel your child's welfare is better off. It is your job as the parent to guide your offspring in a positive vain, not the responsibility of a thirty two year old Geordie pop star because your daughter once made up a dance routine to Sound of the Underground. Criticising Cheryl and co for being imperfect idols and lambasting them for being real humans facing life battles like the rest of us is no good for anyone. I think the aim backfires and it places even more pressure on our teens, demonstrating dissapproval of faults even in alpha females who appear to have achieved an awful lot. Perhaps it would do the kiddos more favours to demonstrate acceptance, kindness and empathy for human beings going through tough times rather than rip into them like a lion to a boar.
The papers have deemed Cheryl too thin and too fat at various points in her career. By doing so they are holding women down and distracting from what we think, say, do, feel, ACHIEVE. All of that is rendered irrelevant because some loser at the Daily Mail has noticed Cheryl's weight has dropped. Well done, gold star for you Kate Tomas, and a special mention for kindly quoting the bitter vitriol from twitter users such as 'you're a bag of bones' in your piece last week. Have you thickos at the Mail forgotten the numerous times you've printed close ups of her legs and ridiculed her for having 'cankles'? Jennifer Aniston is too fat and Cheryl, too thin. Oh wait, were we momentarily distracted from the fact that both are (whether you're a fan or not you can't deny the facts) extremely successful?
Whilst this continues, we, as women, are being kept in our place and controlled. We are being told to display faultlessness in every area of our lives and that our achievements come secondary to the physical perfection we owe to strangers. Enough. The Daily Mail is more guilty than a child with a face covered in chocolate mumbling 'the dog ate it', but it's happening everywhere. Trashy mags, daily newspapers, gossip websites, over the water cooler. I am sick to the back teeth of the endless patronising commentary on post-baby weight loss struggles, bingo wings, cankles, career mother's destroying their children's chance of happiness. The media outlets committing such offences are censoring every aspect of women's lives, boxing us up and holding us back. It is suffocating, dangerous and misogynistic. Stop buying, stop clicking, stop reading, stop listening.
Stop body shaming.
Stop WOMAN shaming.
This post originally appeared on Lily's bloghere