I’m ready for the tornado of shit that’s going to spin around in my world for an Internet minute after I write this, but as a body snarker, I feel that it’s important I share my side.
I know that whispering about some woman’s “sloppy tits” or some guy’s “lady hips” is rude and wrong. I know that I am not the mayor of who is allowed to wear crop tops and what leggings qualify as leggings that pass as pants and where the bottom of your t-shirt should hit on said leggings. But I say those things, I think those things and I know I’m not the only one because 99% of the people that I hang out with are bitches and I like it that way.
Some people would blame their geographical location as the source of the judgments they’ve formed, especially in Los Angeles where I currently reside. We live lean over here. There’s no shortage of healthy food options and $50 cycling classes. Thin is cult out here.
But then I spent some time in Boston, New York and Baltimore over the past couple of weeks and took note of the body snarking I heard there, too. And of course, there was some sort of appraisal, positive or negative, in every single celeb gossip rag that I picked up to read on trains and planes. Body snarking is everywhere, we all know it and we meet up on the Internet to talk about how bad it is (or to spread those neg vibes around even more).
Most of the online publications I read have a feminist slant and discussions about body snarking are constant. And you know what? I actually agree with most of the people that speak about how vile it is. I’m 100% behind the notion that it’s truly pathetic that, as a society, we care just as much about a person’s looks as we do their work or the general good they bring into the world and that this especially affects females.
I could speak on the topic of positive body image and tell you how crucial it is for everyone, most especially the generations to come, but it would only be half true. I body snark because there is so very much that I am unhappy with about my own body. I body snark because sometimes I’m not sure what else to say about a person who has hurt my feelings and I haven’t grown the fuck up enough to just move on from a topic if I’m out of constructive thoughts I’d like to share.
I body snark because I am curious by nature and overly observant. I turn people into characters whose physical traits are a part of their personality. “Why hasn’t she gotten a bra that fits her properly? Was she not taught self-care? Did she think that her mother was prettier than her? Did she give up on herself emotionally and it has spread to hear appearance?” I lack impulse control. Sometimes summarized versions of the combined answers to these thoughts come flying out of my mouth.
I body snark because I’ve been body snarked. I was a chubby child. When I was nine, my mom cut my hair off and I was mistaken for a little fat boy more than once, most notably by a Marshall’s employee who, when I asked for the bathroom key, handed me a stick that clearly read, “Men’s Room.” I couldn’t bring myself to correct him and that was the day I learned what a urinal cake is.
When I battled anorexia in my early 20s (I say “battled,” but I loved it, I wanted to be skinny more than anything), I would read blog posts and books where celebrities and civilians alike would tear down women who were so tiny you could see their ribs. Not, “when you see a girl whose ribs are visible, you should show her some compassion because she’s most likely suffering with body image issues,” just “girls who are like that are unhealthy and you don’t want to be like them.”
I remember one Tweet from a famous television actress that insulted women who go to parties in ponytails and grey t-shirts, my go-to uniform at the time. “She hates who I am,” I thought, “the person who I am is the last person that this particular woman wants to look at when she leaves the house.”
Did I know this celebrity? Not at the time, not at all. But I remember thinking that if she was publicly calling girls like me obnoxious to even have to look at, then other people must be too. And unless you’re doing hot yoga twice a week and meditating before and after work, you’re typically not in a great place when you feel like you’re being hated on. It makes you want to hate back. And once something becomes routine, it’s hard to shake it.
In a way, being a body snarker that knows better is not much different than being a pack-a-day smoker. And I’m working on quitting both.