Body-Shaming in Microvoices

Body-shaming: the practice of making critical comments about one’s body shape, size, or weight in a humiliating manner.

Recently, I started noticing a common pattern among the headlines appearing on my social media news feed:

Only [Celebrity A] can rock such an outfit so flawlessly!
This is the model-approved way to wear overalls.
[Celebrity B] shows us how to make dresses incredibly stylish.

A brief glance at these headlines could have appealed little to zero correlation with the language of body-shaming, especially when there are such wide variety of interpretations from an individual’s point of view. It could be perceived as pure compliments of a celebrity’s personal style, or being construed as click baits — in any manner you delight. Yet, it hit me that this could be the micro-voice of body-shaming that are easily negligible for its subtlety or a foolproof approach backed with data analytics among publications in attracting readers’ attention.

Most news articles have dominantly applauded and acknowledged celebrities and models for their slim figures by featuring them alongside those headlines. Although there is no explicit mention of specific body shapes or sizes, the collective and continuing practices of such representation among the publishing industry has painted a picture of “fashionable outfits only look chic on skinny people”.

Don’t be mistaken – this is not to put the celebrities into the limelight for not promoting healthy body image or pursuing such figures, because some are naturally born so or have worked extremely hard to achieve them for specific reasons. On the contrary, you have probably heard and seen more celebrities standing up for healthier body image and make use of their platform advocating changes to such perception of beauty among their industry.

Rather, what has been or could be problematic was that the micro-voice of body-shaming has stemmed from the common practice of publications in acknowledging one’s fashion sense or providing styling tips to their readers. This includes the writing style of such headlines as well as utilising celebrities of similar body shapes as mediator of their beliefs. In some occasion, unbeknownst to the author themselves in some occasion.

It contributes to a social construct, as understood from their headlines, that only slim and skinny figures – and none of the other body shapes -can rock an outfit worthy to be labelled as fashionable and chic.

As we live in this information-loaded Internet era, you can choose to filter them from your news feed or to just accept that’s how the industry works and brush it off. Of course, you are not entitled to read these articles or follow the publications if your beliefs do not aligned with them. However, when the dominant voice lies within the hands of industry-approved and award winning websites where young generations look to them first-handily as sources of inspiration, this is a continuing cycle of perpetuating the micro-voice of body-shaming.

It starts small, with a lack of resistance towards the influential websites.

It perpetuates with the dominant writing style that seems to work effectively on its data analytics. It favours in looking through the lens of ethereality, or what some may frame it, “goals”. It utilises popular and recognisable figures for affluent followings and dismiss your inner calling to be yourself, succumbing yourself to the mould of society’s beauty standards.

So, don’t let these little voices replace your inner beauty and hide your unique personality for the temporal satisfaction of society’s stamp of approval.

What truly defines you will speak more meaningfully than catchy headlines, a thumbs up, or #goals, where you live off not from others’ expectation but self-appreciation. Where micro-voice of body-shaming grows unconsciously from the negligence of its understated impact, it is exactly where we should be more aware of its understatement.


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