Rant: No one is safe from the fat-shaming media

gerardbutler

So, I totally got sucked in the other day, like Alice down the proverbial rabbit hole of the interwebs. It started with a perfectly innocent article about iced coffee popsicles (that is innocent, I swear by all that is holy… and by the first bean of the blessed caffenation… ). However, as frequently happens (well, as happens to me that is) a side link caught my attention “GORGEOUS STARS THAT GOT FAT AND HIDEOUS!” (or something along those lines). Try as I might I could not resist the temptation to see this travesty of modern celebrity, and so, I clicked. And I found to my surprise that my temper flared. Once again the paparazzi and media hounds have pissed me off to an extent I didn’t think possible outside political arenas where they have no knowledge and generally speak from their posterior orifices.

Now, I’m going to digress a tad. I’ll try to keep my tangent to a brief ramble. So, bear with me. I have never been what might be considered a willowy sort. I was, at one time called a skinny kid by a grandparent here or there or others of a generation that knew The Great Depression years and thought that being able to see certain bones in a child meant lack of nourishment. I was never emaciated and I was certainly never without enough food to eat. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had gardens and my mom’s magical abilities to make quite hearty meals appear on the slimmest of budgets. At any rate, I was never one that would blow away in a good wind. I was a solid, athletically built youngster that probably fell in the lower to middle range of those damnable BMI charts… in other words average. That being said, I was never what might be considered thick, either. I tended to be on the long scale. However, with age comes wisdom… and then it presents some more unpleasant gifts. One of those less positive side effects of age is what I will call the thickening. I’m not talking about mere weight gain and adipose tissue acquisition. I’m talking just the pure and simple fact that some of us just get visibly and measurably wider/thicker/whatever as we get older. I believe it has something to do with hormones and genetics and such (at least that’s what all those required biology and human physiology courses I took said), but it is just a fact of life. Neither diet nor exercise will fix it. Some lucky folks seem to dodge this bullet in comparison to their peers, though even they show some change from their own earlier years to some extent. They tend to be those willowy types that no amount of childbirth, years, or desserts seems to change (yeah, I want to stab them, too. It’ll be ok. Just put your head between your knees until the urge passes), but for the rest of us, there is just no avoiding the middle aged spread. We can impact body fat percentages, how we feel, our physical health, muscle tone, and energy levels with judicious dietary choices and appropriate exercise, but despite the efforts we will still never become a bean pole (even if we were in youth). Whether I like it or not, without surgical modification, I am never going to be what I was in my younger years. And with that foundation… on we go.

So, this article/slide show that I happened upon had a title at the top of the page: “Celebrities that Couldn’t Stop Eating and Got Fat…” I started paging through the side by side comparisons of various examples, “Before” and “After” as it were. Both genders were represented. However, the more I paged through the some 30 plus slides, the angrier I became. First of all, there is that misleading title. It brings to mind images of lazy bodies shoving bon-bons in their mouths. At no point was there any evidence presented to support the claim that all of the changes pictured were the product of overeating or food addiction. Secondly, the majority of the comparisons were literally years apart and sometimes decades. Additionally, the “After” shots were by no means grotesque in the majority of instances. They looked like normal people who had traversed spans of time and life events and aged… pretty well actually. For instance, if I was male, I personally would not mind having the physique that Lawrence Fishburne has kept. Aside from that, the disparity between the studio publicity photos and other posed examples given as the “Before” shots and the more candid, spontaneous, and natural “After” shots was glaring. So, I was baffled. Why were these celebrities being shamed? And what exactly is being said by all the negativity?

I also noted that often the females presented not only were “victims” of time, but also had the photos taken after delivering children. Um?!? Yeah! Shame on them for embracing motherhood and pregnancy! I know that some people claim to bounce back, but I dare say there is a LOT of work and self-denial that goes into attaining pre-baby physique, and most NEVER DO! (Think Mammy’s conversation with Scarlett O’Hara who could not attain her former figure with the aid of a corset!) Many of the photographic comparisons were with 30-plus year differences, too. Seriously, people?!? Are you saying that in order to be safe from ridicule, one must maintain the body of the 20-year-old? One that surprised me by truly getting me to the boiling point was a caption in which the author/blogger/snarky-social-commentator made the “witty” chastisement of Gerard Butler on his deteriorated physique stating “Hugh Jackman can do it, why can’t you?” That sent me over the top, and I don’t even like Gerard Butler. Now, for one thing, I follow Mr. Jackman in the social media world (Of course, I do! I am female, appreciate the male form, and still breathing). I witness what it appears to take for him to maintain his Wolverine-like physique. He frequently shares images of his training sessions and dietary choices. This is not your average physical fitness routine. He puts a LOT of time, energy (and likely funds) into looking like that, despite any natural biological gifts and predispositions. Aside from that, who can say what additional differences there are in genetic makeup or body chemistry between these two compared leading men. (Not to mention all those government experimental mutation programs… just kidding). Not that Mr. Butler is any less capable of putting in the same efforts and resources to attain similar physical outcomes, but comparing one to another is just not fair. Besides, the picture showed as the “Before” for Gerard Butler was from the Spartan days… seriously, a still from the movie. Hello? Again, I say “Bad shot!” Let’s see? Movie magical film still with lighting and whatever other special effects vs. photo caught by sneaky photo-stalker with the long lens; not exactly an even playing field. Additionally, that was a bloody acting role people! I’ve seen, read, and heard about what some actors and actresses do for different parts. Look at Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron, and Renee Zellweger. That is just to name a few of the performers who have literally changed their bodies by gaining and losing and putting themselves through physical metamorphosis for the purpose of assuming a character. Do you really think that given the timeframes of filming, deadlines, and such that they did that in the healthiest way possible? I can answer that one: NO THEY DID NOT. For many of the stars out there, the physiques and image that they portray come at a sacrifice to their bodies and health (and sometimes minds). Alas, they chose that lifestyle and career, and we have to assume they knew the risks when they signed up. The pressure to fulfill certain expectations and ideal appearance is something that Hollywood has been rife with since the advent of moving pictures. Gerard Butler is no different. He bulked up and got ripped to play a part. Now, because he is not maintaining that same exact body form some little paparazzo/wannabe journalist is shaming him. Did he somehow become morbidly obese since playing King Leonidas? No, he just looks… normal (well, in truth the guy is considered by most to be quite handsome and probably not average, but you get what I’m saying).

So, why do I give two rips about whether the media or one of their vulture-like representatives is bad-mouthing the A-listers? In all likelihood, those celebrities are probably thinking “Hey, attention is attention. All press is good press.” It keeps them in the public eye. So, they probably don’t care that some little whiner is saying that they aren’t brick @#$%houses anymore.

However, those celebrities are often the representation of our ideals in many ways. Even those among us who have been graced with wonderful ego strength, self-esteem and experience no twinge of doubt in the face of external recrimination can absorb some of the societal expectations and approbation to occasionally observe a paragon of physical virtue and think “I want my body to look like THAT!” That sentiment is typically the primary motivation for the majority of people to diet, exercise, and (yes) have surgical procedures. We have an image of our ideal body in mind. We want to look like the modern gods and goddesses of the public eye. We want to be attractive, and to be considered attractive and successful (yes, an attractive physical appearance often results in the assumption of success) according to the cultural norms. So, when some little hopped up photo-blogger or tabloid hack starts bashing someone who wasn’t prepared for a photo shoot and merely looks age-appropriate or like a normal, average human, what does that do in our subconscious and preconscious? Well, if you are a confident specimen who is happy in your life, it may do absolutely nothing… or possibly you believe that it has no impact to your self-perception. You may be correct. However, for the rest of us, it plants a little irrational seed that to be attractive, beautiful, desirable, loved… you have to achieve physical perfection. You cannot age. You cannot participate in the natural human milestones of life. You must conform to the image that the media has designated as acceptable, and the risk is there for making some supremely unhealthy choices just to avoid being too normal.

Health, wellness, fitness, and diet should not be something that is dictated by negativity or the avoidance of external negative perception. It should be something that we choose because it brings us more satisfaction in our lives. So, I say to the nasty little scandal rag jerks out there who love to put other people down (even if it is the Hollywood “royalty”)… Bug off! Or I might start a movement to encourage the victims of those long lenses to return the favor. How will you vultures bear up to the intense scrutiny and critique of your physique?

Here endeth the rant… at least this one (y’all know me too well to think it’s the last).

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