I was looking through the questions I’ve not yet answered from my #AskNicolaMorgan competition and there’s one I’m struggling with. It’s a good one, but hard to answer. It’s from Drummond Community High School and it is:
“What is your opinion on body shaming on social media platforms like instagram and how do you think we can make an impact to stop it?”
Think about this for a moment. People actually lower themselves to make cruel, grotesque comments about other people’s bodies in such a cowardly way that they can’t be seen? People think that’s ok, how exactly? Does this make them feel proud or clever? It’s disgusting. Many people will find it hard to believe that people could be so foul about something as random as physical appearance. Whose business is it what someone else looks like?
It happens to public figures all the time. Some people might think if you become a public figure you have to take the flak. But why? Fine to criticise someone’s words or opinions or politics, but to make personal remarks about their appearance. Relevant how? Clever how? Acceptable, not.
But it’s not just public figures. Anyone can be a victim of this. You’ve only got to put your head above any parapet or dare to be different and you are a possible target for the nasties.
For Body Brilliant, I’ve just been reading research and reports from an organisation called Changing Faces UK. This brilliant organisation represents people with visible differences or disfigurements. These disfigurements might be from conditions they were born with or the results of accidents, attacks or illnesses. The number of people with such conditions or differences who suffer abuse from total strangers is appallingly high. If even one person did, that would be one too many, but the figures are outrageous.
I recommend everyone looks at that website. It’s full of faces of all sorts, each one different, each one the face of a human being with its own human beauty and brilliance. The more you look, the more you’ll see behind the skin or structure to the person beneath. You can also take the Face Equality test. And there’s a really important report here. And loads of resources on the site. I don’t think this site should be only used by people with a visible difference: we all need to read it.
But the body shaming that the question referred to wasn’t about that, was it? Well, it was, actually. Because shaming someone for how they look is as bad whether it’s someone’s size or someone’s disfigurement, someone’s skin or someone’s eyes, someone’s facial structure or the straightness of their back or existence of two arms or the amount of hair or the thinness of lips or their acne or their birthmark or their scar or the condition they were born with.
It’s just what people look like and literally none of it deserves to be commented on, insulted or criticised in any way at all, ever. We are not all the same: we’re not sheep and we don’t have to behave like sheep. Mind you, sheep wouldn’t bother to stoop that low…
It makes me sad and angry. But on the other hand, maybe if people think these things it’s better if they say them so we can all tell them just how horrible and ignorant and pointless and wrong their opinions and comments are. Maybe that’s how we can “have an impact to stop it.”
But then who am I to say? I am lucky enough not to have suffered body shaming on social media. So do I even know enough for my opinion to be worth anything?
You tell me. What do you think? Does your school do anything to fight against this? Is there anything you think we can do other than shout these nasty little people down?
Comment below. But also, don’t forget my other call to action – getting urgent now! Please send me your contributions on that. And then there was the list of books on specific topics. Sorry to be so demanding!