In the past few weeks we've watched as 'reporters' (I use this term very loosely) shamed Kelly Clarkson for not losing her baby weight quickly enough and diagnosed Giuliana Rancic as anorexic.
Can we just stop already?
We live in a Photoshop age. Every single image you see in print or online is digitally altered in some way. Every. Single. Image. Let that seep in. It's all smoke and mirrors, folks.
As a society we have lost sight of what real people look like. We have become so accustomed to seeing manipulated 'ideal body' imagery we have no idea what real live healthy people should look like.
We have young girls growing up loathing the body they see in the mirror because their thigh gap isn't like the models in Cosmo. We have young boys that refuse to take off their shirts at the beach because they do not have six-pack abs. Guess what...those thighs were trimmed down by a random dude sitting at his computer monitor snarfing down Cheetos...and what about those abs? They were created by some freelance CAD artist with a stylus in one hand and a fudge brownie in the other.
Where am I going with this?
For years, like any other insecure teenager/young adult, I focused so much energy on what I didn't like about my body. This was too big, that was too small. How come mine looks like this but yours looks like that? Is this normal? Should this jiggle? Dear god why is there hair THERE? The list was endless. I became much more forgiving of my body shortly after giving birth to my first son in 1996. My body didn't belong to me anymore. It was a machine that was capable of nurturing and bringing life into this world. I finally began to respect it and in turn accept it.
There were some years that I carried a little extra weight and some years I was more toned and trim. Then I got cancer.
If you never had body image issues before let me tell you, a bunch of scars on your sexytime parts will definitely do some damage to your psyche. If you've always wrestled with your body image...well this brings it to a whole other level completely.
Can you imagine shaming an ovarian cancer survivor because her stomach is now loose and pouchy due to how much tissue had to be removed to get clean margins? What about shaming a man who has survived breast cancer because he hasn't any pectoralis muscles and has tattooed nipples? Do we shame veterans for the scars that bisect their bodies or the limbs that they lost? I think not. But yet it's okay for us to have an opinion about the figure of every public figure and then broadcast it for every internet troll to add their two cents.
You never know what someone is struggling with. Maybe a hormonal imbalance is changing their appearance or perhaps a much needed drug therapy is causing rapid weight loss or excessive bloating. Yet these people we pick apart still get up on that stage or in front of a camera and perform, with a smile and with swagger. Could you do that? Get up in front of millions when maybe you don't look or feel your best? What if the person they are shaming is your spouse? What if it was your child? Ahhhh, see how quickly we go from shaming to bullying. And we have a zero tolerance for that now don't we?
So remember, before you get all Judgey McJudgeypants, be kind and empathize. A picture is worth a thousand words, some which you can see...and many which you cannot.