Intense scrutiny on people’s bodies has long been a staple of celebrity gossip. Usually, women get a disproportionate share of the examination: The baby bump watch for Scarlett Johansson, the photos of Kim Kardashian leaving the gym, and even the fawning coverage of Kate Middleton’s waist after having Prince George, are all part of the spectrum.
But this summer, gossip sites like TMZ have begun including men in that particular flavor of body shaming. Rob Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Simon Cowell, and other male celebrities have been targeted, with particularly tasteless and cruel commentary (“Leolardo DiFlabrio” was one choice example, but there’s also been a ton of coverage on “man boobs”). Meanwhile, the Daily Mail came under fire from One Direction fans, when the tabloid referred to Liam Payne as having a “less than toned physique” in a recent headline.
Over at The Cut, Kat Stoeffel commented on the recent gender equality in body-shaming.
“In a media landscape where the dramatization of women’s weight fluctuations is ubiquitous, [journalists] are committed to achieving gender parity,” she wrote. “And of course I’d prefer if no one, male or female, felt bad about their bodies ever. TMZ’s summer of dude scrutiny does suggest that, when used properly, fat-shaming is a uniquely powerful weapon.”
It’s true that fat-shaming and body guilt is a powerful weapon. That’s not news to any woman subjected to the pointed gaze of strangers every day. But this is a matter in which equality is not the goal.
The hope is to eliminate the problem, not amplify it. Women don’t benefit when dudes scrutinized and picked apart and body-shamed for just being in the world. It’s not as if men will wreck the curve and then body-shaming will be thrown out for everyone on the basis of unfairness. What we should be hoping for is that everyone can feel comfortable in their own skin, male or female, skinny or not. Equality in bad behavior is still just bad behavior.
Featured image via TMZ