There is a lot of body shaming going on. -I mean, more than I have observed in a long time. But maybe it simply is that social media has made it more visible and more real than ever. Body shaming, fat phobia, and ablelist pity rooted comments, images and opinions seem to have filtered through the fabric of our social reality and the general view of what is considered beautiful and sensual versus repulsive and unwanted.
The recent image of a naked Donald Trump statue kept making its rounds through social media as a form of ridicule and belittling the Republican presidential candidate. The body shaming comments poured in offering disgust and repulsion at the naked body that had been exposed to represent Mr. Trump. Many comments made reference to the size of his genitals or the presence of varicose veins, big belly, stretch marks, excess body fat and on and on. It ached me to witness the outpour of hateful comments based solely on the perception of this version of a body deemed ugly, disgusting, undesirable and used as a freak show type of amusement which feeds the very ablelist ideas that imprison us to this day. It broke my heart to see people posing with that statue as if doing so validated and justified making fun of another human being. Those who joined in the “fun” at spewing insults and derogatory comments about being fat, or having scars, varicose veins or small genitals, please know your actions simply put you a la par with Mr. Trump when he mocked a disabled reporter. Really. How is this form of body shaming different and/or justifiable?
Just as I thought I was beginning to heal from the exposure to so much hatred, I came across the image of a naked Hilary Clinton. She was displayed nude from the waist up holding a partially consumed bottle of wine and was shown posing in a low class, bare mattress, “no tell motel” type room background. Despite the insulting circumstances, there was really nothing ugly about her body. Yet, the comments that flooded this thread included ridiculous things like “This makes me never want to have sex again.” Or “I have never seen anything so gross.” What exactly are these people referring to? What exactly is gross or disturbing? What I find gross and disturbing are the comments that feed the monsters of ablelism and ageism, and the erroneous belief that we must look a “certain way” in order to be considered beautiful, sexy, attractive, acceptable. Another aspect of the Hilary image that disturbs me was how Mrs. Clinton had been photoshoped in a compromising background that insinuated sexual activity. At least Mr. Trump’s only assigned “sin” was being naked in public and not looking like a sex symbol. The hatred towards Hilary implies hatred towards women….hatred towards assertive women and just like with a sexual predator, the person who photoshopped this image is somebody who wants to use sex to diminish women, to insult women, to send a message of shame and disempowerment.
Although both incidents with the naked presidential candidates made my soul bleed, I guess being a woman, now an aging woman with a disability….made me feel vulnerable about my own body and my own memories of feeling imperfect and judged and rejected. The realization that bodies that look like Mr. Trump’s are targets of hatred and violence is disheartening. To witness the ageism as it comes to life to the image of a nude older woman makes me shiver with self-doubt and takes me back to moments in my own life when I have felt like my imperfect body was unwanted. As empowered as I am at this point in my life, witnessing body shaming and hatred with so much obvious intention threatened to shatter my own confidence. My naked body would bare scars and stretch marks and saggy breasts, love handles and rebellious curves. The crippleness of me in the nude would display some of the traits that were loathed in the above mentioned threads. Body shaming is becoming a serious form of bullying and we must equip ourselves with the self-love able to combat it. Otherwise we will suffer in silence every time we witness the shaming of a body that looks like ours or the injustices that sprout from seeds of ignorance and hatred. We must choose to plant seeds of hope, seeds of empowerment and love. Every body is a unique beautiful body. Nobody and no body deserves to be shamed into unrealistic versions of physical beauty.
So, please!!!! If we show discontent with the political parties, we should direct attacks towards the candidates’ opinions, comments, actions, histories, political agenda and things that actually apply to their ability to be President. Shaming the way either of them look is not doing anything to empower anybody. However, it does hurt, humiliate and push into silence many people who may identify with the bodies treated as targets of hatred and disgust. Those who have a “perfect” body, may cast the first stone.