AS long as social media exists, so will cyber-bullying and unfortunately, it’s a frequently-used tool for bullies.
Yes, technology can be wonderful, however, it makes it possible for us to connect with the rest of the world and helps us to capture special moments in time. Social media has recently seen the rise of a particularly nasty trend: body shaming.
For example, I was recently scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across an article on how Twitter users had scrutinised the talented Lady GAGA during her performance at the American Super Bowl.
Critics took to twitter, shaming GAGA and suggesting that she wasn’t in perfect shape for her performance… I know; I was shocked too!
“The flab is real right now… cover that s* up lady gaga,” snarked one Tweeter.
— Chloe Paige (@ChloePaigeSings) February 8, 2017
Yet, there are many social media users, including GAGA herself that are hitting back at the horrid remarks. Her words were hailed on social media by many who noted the multitude of women celebrities who have been criticized for their bodies.
“I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too,” she wrote on Instagram in the caption of a photo of her performing. “No matter who you are or what you do.”
Dolce & Gabbana co-founder apologizes for body shaming Lady Gaga https://t.co/HEKtcayVVI
— TIME (@TIME) February 10, 2017
It is bad enough that people feel that it is ‘okay’ to body-shame at all, but technology makes it possible for hundreds, thousands or even millions of bullies to team up on social media. Such widespread cruelty can have damaging effects on a person’s mental and physical health, and can even lead to suicide in severe cases.
As convenient as it may be to lay blame with social media, but the fashion industry is also at large for body shaming.
Shame on the fashion industry, shame on you for your unrealistic portrayal of women’s bodies, for photo shopping images, for your relentless obsession with size and youth. However, the truth is that we are accepting it, us regular folk, who are far more adept at slandering one another’s figures.
More recently, Vogue magazine has been accused of distorting one of its cover stars. Its 125th commemorative cover released last week features a diverse line up of women, the headline proclaiming that this is ‘the beauty revolution’ and that ‘no norm is the new norm’.
The Vogue March issue, which claims to celebrate beauty of all types, however, across the social media, critics are claiming the lifestyle magazine did a heavy Photo shopping to make the models appear slimmer.
Amongst the chosen seven women were size 14 Ashley Graham, Chinese supermodel Liu Wen, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Vittoria Ceretti.
Fans also noticed that the 28-year old model is the only one covering her thigh with her arm and is tucked in behind the other model. A white seam and tag also seem to have been added to the model’s shorts, which were plain black in candid paparazzi pictures taken during the photoshoot in December.
“@voguemagazine get real! Retouching the one plus size model + using her arms to cover stomach/legs is not fearless.” Was one tweet from @normaspeaks summing up the widespread backlash.
Ashley’s loyal followers are unhappy with her singular pose, with her hand covering part of her thigh. Others have accused the Vogue team of using Photoshop to alter the image, pointing to Gigi’s extra-long arm as evidence.
I spoke to Psychologist student, Amy Griffiths, who gave her professional perspective on Body-Shaming:
“Social media has extended the boundaries of body shaming, making it easier for a person to criticise another’s appearance without direct confrontation, even anonymously. Body shaming, the critique of the appearance of a persons body by another, does not necessarily target a specific body shape, size or weight and can be aimed at any individual, causing emotional/psychological harm and negatively affecting self-esteem.”
“A person who is body shamed online is more likely to contract psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as eating disorders due to increased body dissatisfaction and concerns of being over, or underweight. It can be a difficult process to overcome these illnesses, and to convince those affected that their bodies are in fact what they make of them, and should not be defined by the criticisms of others.
“It should be recognised that what truly matters is how a person views themselves, and this should be encouraged, to reduce the negative effects of body shaming.”
It’s no secret that photographs in fashion magazines are heavily retouched. The practice has caused increased controversy and opposition in recent years. Many have called for a more realistic and body-positive depiction of women.