Poppin’ Molly – Poppin’ Molly’s Handy Guide to Not Being a Body Shaming Piece of Crap
There must be some stupid, misogynistic virus going around that affects women who are claiming to be body positive. Last week, it was Bette Midler attacking Kim Kardashian for having the audacity to post a nude photo of herself on twitter. This week, it seems that Julie Klausner, star of Hulu’s Difficult People, has a real problem with Zendaya’s weight – alleging that her vicious attacks on the 19-year-old’s appearance are totally fine because eating disorders are bad and, well, I guess they’re all Zendaya’s fault.
This all started when Zendaya showed up to the Kid’s Choice Awards looking too thin for Julie Klausner’s taste. That’s neither here nor there, really. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I guess Zendaya’s thin frame isn’t in line with what Julie Klausner considers beautiful. That’s fine. To each their own. I’m not a fan of defined abs on women or clean-shaven men, that doesn’t mean people who look that way are wrong. But I also don’t take to Twitter in order to shame women who choose to partake in CrossFit or men who shave daily.
Julie Klausner, on the other hand, went on the offensive with a series of insulting tweets towards the starlet:
Zendaya's ultimate retort to Giuliana Rancic is starving herself down to the size of one of her elbowz
Well, it seems my input probably isn’t necessary, considering the nuanced conversation happening in regards to body image and cultural influence – but just in case …
Poppin’ Molly’s Handy Guide to Not Being a Body Shaming Piece of Crap
*Particularly handy for “edgy” comedians who yell “Nothing is off limits!” on a daily basis
Don’t shit on women’s bodies
Favoring one body type over another is kind of the epitome of body shaming. While the cultural standard has been to favor thin frames over fat ones (usually with unreasonably large breasts attached), assuming that large women are better is equally shitty. The fact of the matter is that everyone looks different – at different points of their lives, whether they work at it or not. What matters is physical and emotional health and neither of those can be determined by spectators.
So when Julie Klausner decides to go on a crusade against skinny women in an effort to destroy feelings of self loathing in young women – well, let’s just say it’s unbelievably counter productive. Much in the same way it’s shitty to assume fat people are unhealthy simply because you think they’re fat, you can’t really decipher a slim person’s health based on their appearance. It’s not possible and it’s certainly not your place.
Instead, all you do is perpetuate the idea that women’s bodies are in the public domain – they exist for your critique, your jokes and to promote your own personal agenda.
Eating disorders are so much more than celebrity influence
No skinny celebrity is powerful enough to turn a generation of young women anorexic. Mental illness is just not that simple. The process of developing an eating disorder is a complex mix of biological, psychological and social factors.
So, living in a society that consistently tells young girls that extreme thinness is the only body type that it values can definitely contribute to women developing disordered eating patterns – especially when society also tells them that their appearance is what matters most about them. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Another piece of that puzzle is the fact that we live in a society that feels free to make commentary about women’s bodies in whatever way they like, which can have devastating psychological effects on the victim of such rhetoric. Whether they’re fat, thin, busty, athletic, etc., commenting on a woman’s body is a surefire way to fuck her up – even if it’s just momentary frustration.
So, congrats to Julie Klausner for doing a number on the naturally thin young women out there.
Don’t believe me? I used to be Zendaya thin. And it doesn’t take long to remember the numerous accusations of anorexia or people jokingly asking me when I was going to FINALLY hit puberty (spoiler alert – I got my grown up boobs around age 20). I can vividly remember feeling inadequate because I didn’t have J. Lo’s ass and at the time, that was the only desirable way for a woman to look. That doesn’t mean skinny girls have it harder. But it does mean they need body positivity and acceptance just as much as every other girl, boy and everyone in between.
You can joke about anything, but you have to do it well
It’s every shitty comedian’s favorite cop out when their joke doesn’t land – nothing is off limits in comedy. I happen to agree with this, but with one caveat. You can joke about anything, as long as you do it well. Saying a bunch of mean shit and generally being an asshole is not the same as a well-crafted joke about a taboo topic.
It’s “courting outrage,” as Paul F. Tompkins brilliantly puts it in his video about political correctness and what that really means for comedy:
I’m sure, if in the hands of the right comedian, there’s a really fucking funny joke about eating disorders out there. I never thought I’d laugh at rape, but then along came Louis C.K. and Sarah Silverman and I ended up in a fit of laughter on my floor because of their rape jokes. But these were thoughtful jokes that took the topic, the victims and the audience into consideration. The same cannot be said of Klausner’s joke – or any of the tweets that have followed her initial one about Zendaya and Giuliana Rancic’s elbow (a particularly icky comment considering that Rancic has allegedly lost weight from the cancer treatment drug Tamoxifen).
It seems that courting outrage is more up her alley. And hey, that’s fine. But don’t try to play it off as a crusade against eating disorders.
Now, after spending all this time discussing how NOT to be a body-shaming piece of crap, let’s end this column on a high note. Zendaya, in her typical classy manner, chose to respond to Julie Klausner with this genuine message of radical self love to her fans: