Body-Shaming Headlines In January Are Insane


January, or as it’s adorably come to be known, Hate Yer Bodyuary (ok, I made that up, no one says that) has become so synonymous with vowing to make changes to your physical state – whether that means modifying what you put into your body, or how much you try to get out of it – that some people have started having to specify that they won’t be making any resolutions regarding diet or exercise; This is seen as a bold act of going against the pressures of The Man, or exhibiting a weird sense of satisfaction with oneself that is genuinely anomalous to most people. It’s just assumed at this point that you not only will but should make resolutions that center around changing your body, especially if you’re a woman.

This assumption – that diet and exercise should be at the front of our minds at this time of year – is based on the notion that no matter what you look like, and no matter how healthy you are, there is surely something about your physical appearance that could be better. When it comes to our beauty, we are supposed to dislike those things about ourselves that do not adhere to a very narrow range of what is considered acceptable. This isn’t just limited to overweight people, or single people, or even just women (although, by far, diet and exercise industries target women in their marketing, and you’ll find infinitely more body-shaming content in magazines, TV shows, and on websites whose audience is largely female.)

The boundaries and definitions of what a “good” body looks like are upheld everywhere, whether it’s a journalist (I use the term loosely) saying he doesn’t understand the point of Lena Dunham’s nudity on Girls, or this woman being labeled “plus-size”, or Kim Kardashian photoshopping her Instagram pics as if to imply that her real body isn’t good enough. A body which, for the record, is almost disturbingly hot – like, if the message here is that Kim Kardashian can’t even be happy with her body, what the fuck are the rest of us supposed to do? And these few examples are almost imperceptible compared to the daily deluge of ads, TV shows, and movies where only a painfully limited body type is are represented.

Honoring and praising looking a certain way while body-shaming everyone who doesn’t is so built in to how we think and speak about physical beauty that it event permeates how we compliment people; “Oh she has such a pretty face!” or “She dresses amazingly well for her size”, as if someone’s size puts an automatic limit on how well she could dress. A comment like that is essentially saying, “Given that you weigh a certain amount, there’s only so much you can do. You’re always going to be less beautiful than someone who isn’t your size. But hey, you’re the most beautiful you can be, which – don’t forget – is still definitely not beautiful enough, so good for you!”

Obviously we could spiral out talking about body-shaming in media, and unrealistic physical ideals that literally so few people are even genetically capable of attaining yet that all people are expected to strive for at all costs. But that’s not the point, at least for now. Today’s point is about a distinct thing that happens around the New Year: The usual body-shaming, unrealistic beauty ideals, and the Cult of Perpetual Superficial Betterment all come together in an absolute media fury of headlines aimed at telling you what’s wrong with your body, how to fix it, and how much happier you’ll be once you do.

The extreme degree this annual media practice (which definitely exists in to an ever-so-slightly lessened degree the rest of the year) would almost be funny if, ya know, it wasn’t so horrifically damaging to the perceived self-image of millions of women and girls, which spreads to infect their sense of worth in all areas of their existence and effectively turns the ever-growing media into an incredibly strong weapon in the continued oppression of women, but like, aside from all that, it’s kinda funny how insane these headlines can get.

So anyway, here’s some plum examples of what I’m talking about. If you see headlines like these, do not click on them. Clicks equal ad sales for these websites, so really, you’re clicking on something that will make you hate yourself enough to buy the bullshit products that promise to make you in some way more attractive (beauty products, clothes, diet pills, make-up, etc.) being sold by advertisers who paid money to get your attention when your self-image is at a low. It’s a bullshit game, and we need to all stop playing it. So don’t click when you see these headlines. If you need an alternative, feel free to email me and I will give you a custom pep talk. Joking not joking.

“Get Tighter Abs and a Better Butt With Barre Classes”

Your butt could be much “better” and your abs are basically grossing me out. Ballerinas are better so be one!

“Should you be worried about your ‘thut’? How our sedentary lifestyles are causing a rise in the seamless thigh-butt”

They are now inventing new words to make us dislike our bodies. I mean, it’s clearly fucked up, but game recognize game, fellow writer.

“The Ugly Truth About How Much Weight We Gain in Winter”

The words “ugly” and “weight” like to appear next to each other in headlines a lot. I’ll let you figure out the super extra deep psychology behind that.

“African American Women Have A Harder Time Losing Weight”

Because never forget: It’s not enough to just hate your fatness; you should definitely hate your blackness too.

“Pregnant women who gain a lot of weight may be more likely to have a child with autism”

Oh, you pregnant ladies thought you had a pass? Nope. Not only will you offend our eyes with your unsexy weight gain, you will be hurting your child. Fat = bad mom.

“4 Habits That’ll Make You Gain Back Any Weight You Lose And how to keep from falling into these traps”

Watch out!

“Gwyneth Paltrow Recommends Detoxing with Just 300 Calories a Day”

Of course she does. Fucking of course she does. And, since we’re here, the “celeb tips” variety of headlines are the most annoying “Oh, who, what, me?” faux-benign Trojan horses of all the body-shaming headlines. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about how a celebrity lost “baby weight” (don’t even get me started on that term) or talking about any reason to eat just 300 calories a day, there is a huge, unspoken implication that remains the same: Famous people are rich, beautiful, and loved (well, that last one might be stretching it in Paltrow’s case, but you get the idea) so if you do what they do, you increase your chances of being rich, beautiful, and loved. TC Mark

Producer at Thought Catalog. Follow me on Twitter.

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