45 years today we conquered the Moon, but we still haven’t been able to go beyond our body stereotypes. Here’s a little story of body shaming that made headlines yesterday in Italy.
Io Donna is a magazine that I read only because our household gets the Corriere della Sera daily newspaper delivered to our doorstep: it’s a weekly attachment to it. It is a pleasant read most of the time, gathers also some pretty big names in journalism and generally it is a positive surprise to be found along with the usual bad news in the newspapers.
But said magazine has also an internet website… and that’s where it all goes sour. This appeared among other pictures:
It’s the summer 2016 It couple: Chloe Moretz and Brooklyn Beckham. They are inseparable. The actress is inseparable from her shorts too. It’s a pity she isn’t that slim to wear them with ease.
To say I was appalled when the image and the text started circulating was a very kind euphemism. First of all the lovely miss Moretz looks quite thin to me, like many 19 year olds around the world. She’s a successful actress and apparently a lovely human being too, according to what I occasionally read about her.
But even if she wasn’t conventionally thin (although we would have to discuss what is the right or wrong way to be thin: how many cm/inches? What would be the maximum tolerated difference? 😀 ) I can’t help but wonder: does anyone have the right to shame her and her body? Even more, doesn’t being a journalist involve a license to obtain, a certain ethics and just enough of a moral compass to understand that shaming a woman for the size of her thighs is anachronistic in 2016, not to mention plain wrong?
The internet population in Italy reacted quite loudly to this and the magazine issued an apology on its Facebook profile (mind you: there isn’t a single word about it on the official website) which was comically, tragically worse than the issue itself: they appealed to a “heatwave” that resulted in a mistake, “because the comment was meant to be about her clothes, just the clothes, and not her body”.
How in God’s name is the sentence “she isn’t that thin to wear the shorts with ease” referring to Chloe’s choice of clothing?
I can understand we are all human. Who hasn’t had that kind of a moment when a snarky comment escaped you, or when you gossiped about someone else? It is still wrong to do, I am the first one to feel bad and I try to amend this kind of behavior in myself every day. I am flawed, and sometimes I managed, sometimes I do not.
Yet there’s a significant difference between me and a journalist writing under an important publishing house: the journalist writes it publicly as a licensed professional. There’s a social responsibility that comes with that paycheck, and it is even more of a responsibility when you work for a magazine called “Me, woman“. Your readers do not all look like Naomi Campbell. Your readers go to you to feel better in the midst of all the things ordinary life throws upon ordinary people, yet you feel it is OK to promote body issues?
What did you think would happen, dear unknown journalist, when you shamed a young woman for not being “thin enough”?
I would love for the author of that sentence to take a good, long look at herself in the mirror. Not to analyze her thighs: I could not care less about those. To me the size of the journalist has no relevance: I understood all there was to understand from her writing, and that is all I will judge.
I would love for her to ask herself: do I want to be THAT woman that gets off from belittling other women? Is this right? Am I sending the right message?
Being a journalist is a particular sort of job. You get to give voice to others while expressing your point of view, you influence people and your words stay printed permanently. You can’t un-write them. An ill-placed irony attempt will only make it worse. Own it, publish a retraction and condemn without any humour attempt the fact that body shaming DID take place in your magazine. Please, stop thinking that yesterday’s news do not count. Body image issues are a REAL thing for so many, too many women around the world. Photoshop, airbrushing and surreal ideals have made it so much worse: why do we have to add women insulting other women to the equation? It only takes one bad comment to be etched in a woman’s mind and it will imprint permanently. Why does it have to come from another woman, adding insult to injury?
In my life I have been body-shamed too many times to count, and I have varied sizes too. Yet at a certain point of my life I decided that nobody had the right to make me feel less worthy / less important / less accomplished based on the size of my waist or my behind. Nobody would decide what I was going to wear: that would be my decision and mine only, based upon what I felt made me look best. Personally, I don’t like shorts, I’m a skirts lady, but if I decided I wanted to wear them, I am sure I would make headlines in Io Donna as the world’s biggest shame.
A magazine called Me, Woman has to represent ALL women. I want to keep reading it without feeling a transfer of shame for petty and catty comments under a non-flattering picture of some celebrity. Don’t we all have bad moments?
I get it, that kind of trash sells. And selling is the ultimate goal of a commercial publishing company.
But preaching about body issues (along with health issues deriving from those) is worthless if your own employees destroy the whole effort in five minutes of bad writing. Internet never forgets, or it forgives. The modern reader has had enough of trash: we would like to be able to open magazines displaying diversity: of size, color, nationality, religion, whatever. Trash will sell, but it will also result in loss of respect. And that, believe me, is extremely hard to gain back.
Madeleine Albright was truly right when she said: there’s a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. 🙂
With love – and quite some curves, that I am sure will disgust the Io Donna staff,