Actor Vin Diesel recently had the “nerve” to appear on his hotel balcony not looking like a retouched version of himself. So the kind of people who have the free time and over-exaggerated sense of self-importance required to comment negatively on other people’s bodies took to the internet to behave badly.
A lot of the articles I saw about this asked readers something like “What do you think? Should we be shaming Vin Diesel?” I was going to comment but he took the words right out of my mouth on Twitter saying “Body-shaming is always wrong!”
Yes! This! A big hot steaming bowl of this! Instead of spending time body shaming people, and then spending time trying to justify body shaming people (including the ridiculous “you put yourself out there” defense,) how about just not doing it. How about spending that time volunteering somewhere, or watching Netflix, or putting something positive into the world.
It’s ridiculous that actors being talented isn’t enough. It’s cruel that we hold them to a standard of beauty that is only attainable through Photoshop and the stoppage of time. It’s oppressive that when actors (especially women) are nominated for awards for their work, all anyone seems to care about is what they are wearing and how they look. And it’s heartbreaking to think about the many talented performers whose gifts we will never get to appreciate and enjoy because they didn’t meet some arbitrary standard of beauty.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of actions we can take:
Be the Change
Stop negative body talk, starting with your own mouth. Decide that you are going to be opting out of a culture of body shame. Stop saying negative things about other people’s bodies. Stop saying negative things about your own body.
Walk Away or Interrupt
When you hear negative body talk, walk away. Or speak up. You could address it directly “Yeah, I’m not up for trashing other people’s bodies, can we please change the subject?” or say something softer like “I wish we lived in a world where we could appreciate how amazing all bodies are.”
Don’t fuel the machine
A lot of the machine that oppresses us runs on our time, money, and energy. If saying “Has VIn Diesel Let His Body Go” gets a media outlet a million clicks, then they are going to run it. The less attention we give those articles, the less incentive they will have to run them. Link to articles that are critical of this kind of behavior, not articles that exploit it. Cancel subscriptions to magazines that engage in this, stop visiting website that engage in this, and let them know what you are doing and why. If we take the fuel away that machine will stop, but we have to overcome the ideas that we’ve been told (very profitably, for many of those doing the telling) like the idea that we can’t make a difference, that things will never get better, that it’s not worth trying.
This obsession with looks and “beauty” creates a climate where body shaming is seen as inevitable, normal, and accepted. That climate hurts us all, and we can all do something to make it stop.
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