From Slut-Shaming to Weight-Shaming: Let's Just Stop, Okay?

What do you guys think? Karl Lagerfeld and Rush Limbaugh: long-lost BFFs?

I mean sure, on the surface, the stone-faced German fashion designer and the impassioned conservative commentator have nothing in common. But I can totally see them hitting it off, can’t you? Just imagine those two kooky kids swapping secrets, shopping for smart accessories (Chanel, natch), and playfully calling women fat sluts.

All kidding aside, how disgusting has it been lately to watch a parade of public figures thoughtlessly, callously berate female after female? Not that this wave of woman-focused hate speak is anything new, of course. But from Lagerfeld’s totally uncalled for comments about Adele’s body to Limbaugh’s deplorable declaration that Georgetown student Sandra Fluke is nothing but a birth-control-toting hussy, weight-shaming and slut-shaming suddenly seem to be the go-to quick fixes for instant publicity. And it seriously has to stop.

I’d never even heard the term “slut-shaming” until I attended the SPARK Summit in 2010. Dedicated to ending the sexualization of young girls in the media, SPARK brings together some of the brightest, badass women on the planet (like Women’s Media Center co-founder and feminist royalty, Gloria Steinem). It was at their annual conference that I learned there was a term for attacking women based on their (real or supposed) promiscuity or acknowledgment of sexual thoughts and feelings.

Weight-shaming is pretty self-explanatory and maybe even more prevalent. I mean, have you been to a supermarket checkout? Glance up at any celebrity tabloid the next time you’re waiting in line and see for yourself how ubiquitous the message of body shame is. Kirstie Alley gained five pounds? Quick, grab a zoom lens and plaster the invasive photos on the cover! Victoria Beckham‘s looking thinner than ever? Better come up with a catchy headline to stir up rumors and scandal!

Even the happiest place on Earth is trying to jump on the weight-shame bandwagon. Who in their right minds thought a Walt Disney World exhibit about healthy lifestyles could benefit from monstrous cartoon representations of obesity called “Lead Bottom” and “The Glutton”? The characters were intended to act as cautionary reminders for kids to stay fit and trim, or risk transforming into grotesque caricatures, perfectly suited for public mockery.

Or how about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the organization that put out super helpful (i.e. horrendous) anti-obesity TV ads and billboards featuring guilty-looking kids and messages like, “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

And lest you think shaming is always at the hands of fame-seeking males or big, faceless corporations, think again. There’s plenty of woman-on-woman smack-talk going around as well (look, we’ve all seen Mean Girls, right?).

Just this morning, I saw evidence of this in a popular women’s magazine that shall remain nameless (mostly because I’m too embarrassed to admit I read it. But it’s only on the elliptical machine at the gym, I swear!). An article on assertiveness opened with something along the lines of, “You know those women who are so confident and in control? Now you can be better than those bitches!” So is this what we can look forward to now? Bitch-shaming is the new black?

I realize that the public annihilation of females is nothing new. But all of this shaming has consequences. Besides making legions of women and girls feel bad about their bodies and what they choose to do with them, these messages promote insecurities that can now be broadcast to the masses, thanks to Internet magic. The latest trend seems to be teenage girls posting YouTube videos, asking millions (yes, millions) of online spectators whether or not they’re pretty. It’s a serious problem with serious repercussions, and it’s got to stop.

So in the spirit of HelloGiggles’ snark-free positivity, let’s all take it upon ourselves to stop the shaming, and maybe even celebrate why women of all shapes, sizes, sexual preferences, colors, heights, religions, zodiac signs—whatever!—are awesome.

Images via Jezebel and NY Daily News.

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