It’s summer, which means we can’t go two minutes without seeing an article on how to get the perfect “bikini bod” or a photo lauding some celebrity’s “post-baby body.” It’s our culturally approved method of body shaming. The media helpfully directs us to examples we should follow–women who have the money, time, and imperative to trim all the fat (or anything else they don’t like) from their bodies, or models who actually starve themselves on a regular basis.
But it’s not just images of “perfect” bodies. They like to insult us directly too. Even when women achieve phenomenal things, there’s still someone with a platform who reduces them to their physicality. This week’s example is John Inverdale, a presenter on the UK’s Radio 5 Live, who said of Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli: “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.’”
His statement serves to make women who don’t fit whatever cultural norm feel ugly and unworthy and to insist that women who achieve, particularly in traditionally male arenas, only do so because they are pleasing to look at. Inverdale is certainly not the only person to body shame Bartoli, as all kinds of assholes proved on Twitter. The Tumblr “Public Shaming” flipped body shaming on its head by preserving images of Tweets devoted to debasing Bartoli, thereby shaming the shamers. (Reading it will make you feel terribly sad about the world, but it’s useful if you know someone who thinks sexism doesn’t exist.)
Bartoli’s smart response implies that she didn’t let the insults ruin her win: “I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”
My response to body shamers–be they Inverdale, ignorant Tweeters, women’s magazines, or even “serious” news outlets–is a little Hot Fruit.
Out of Olympia, Washington, Hot Fruit describe themselves as “an all Diva 3 piece electronic band.” After they posted the above video for “Falling off the Grid,” YouTube and Reddit exploded in misogynist rage. As you can imagine, there was a lot of body shaming because that’s the first resort of sexist morons. But Hot Fruit don’t care!
Member Grace Ellis says, “Hot Fruit is a place where I began to work through my own acceptance of my power, my sexuality, my ability to be a happy person who doesn’t need to apologize for my failures. And this isn’t all about me: It’s about how I was socialized, and open acceptance of what is not ‘perfect,’ ‘immaculate,’ ‘virgin[al]’ to other people through showing my own personal work.”
Let’s not give a shit about bikini bodies anymore. Think of all the energy we could be putting toward something awesome instead, like our own Hot Fruit. You in?