Are Red Carpets An Exception To The Fight Against Body Shaming?

January 14, 2014  |  
Dear Celebrity Style Critics/Twitter Trolls,
We’ve constructed a double standard when it comes to judging/picking apart women’s bodies and style choices. Feminists (especially on Twitter) join in solidarity to correct men who dare to police women’s bodies. It’s unacceptable and patriarchal and we ain’t havin’ it. Bullying and body shaming have been brought to the forefront of popular cultural attention with campaigns to end both horrible norms among children and adults alike.
How then, do we find room for publicly and so ruthlessly shaming women celebrities at each and every major red carpet event? While unfortunate style choices are very much a reality and must be discussed for the sake of entertainment, is it fair that many celebrities become the brunt of vicious fat jokes and other forms of body shaming?
At Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards, celebrities like Zoe Saldana, Paula Patton, Lena Dunham and Gabourey Sidibe were called out as Worst Dressed on an array of fashion blog sites and shows. I noticed that the slimmer of these celebs were simply challenged for their choice of dress. One blog called Paula Patton’s dress a ‘giant Kleenex’ while another called out Zoe Saldana’s ‘annoying elbow straps’. But when it came to Gabourey Sidibe and Lena Dunham, blogs as well as random Twitter trolls let loose their venom. One Tweeter called Sidibe ‘the chubby ghost from Casper’. Another tweeted that they were ‘tired of her on the red carpet looking like she headed to an oven.’
Blogs picked apart Lena Dunham’s body, asserting that her dress would have been perfect on someone else’s body and that her arms were too big to be uncovered.
Dealing with my own body insecurities currently, this influx of criticism troubled me. We are a society that allows the bullying and picking apart of women as long as it is under the guise of ‘fashion/styling’. Not many offered solutions, only mean, heckling commentary on what was wrong. Why not post photos of the looks that HAVE worked on these different celebrities in the past, and suggest ways in which they could flatter their physique next time? Why not put your “extensive fashion knowledge” to work in a positive way?
How can we call ourselves feminists (or even just good people) and so viciously rip our sisters apart with no regard for their feelings, simply because they are celebrities? How can we go so hard against the tyranny of patriarchy, but become so mean when it counts the most to be kind? Yes, dressing for body type is important and styling is something of an art, but there is a way to disseminate that information without possibly ruining another human being’s self-esteem and dismantling the sisterhood and sense of decency some of us have worked so hard to build as a community of imperfect people.
Noticeably the sites with the most ruthless critiques of celebrities’ red carpet styles were the sites with a large amount of traffic, and those with the most insensitive tweets were the ones with higher retweets and follower counts. It’s sad to think that red carpets are the exception to bullying and body shaming for shock value and cyber fame.
We can do better. But in the meantime, Gabourey Sidibe will continue to serve fierceness and shut every single hater down with comebacks like this, and I am ALL here for it.
Love,
La

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