Why does society ‘normalise’ body-shaming?

Regardless of what form it takes, whether it’s targeting a person’s shape, height, skin colour, fashion choices, hairstyle, tattoos, their gender, their sexual preferences or their disability, etc., criticising another human being for the way they look is downright despicable. Yet, despite the physical and emotional harm we know it can cause, it appears that society has not just turned a blind eye to body-shaming, but by standing by and doing nothing, it actually normalises it.

Let’s take LBC radio host Steve Allen’s recent criticism of Strictly Come Dancing contestant teenager Tilly Ramsey (TV chef Gordon Ramsey’s daughter) as an example. This individual (who clearly believes he’s perfect in every way himself, and fair play to him for being so super-confident) publicly labelled this young woman as being “a chubby little thing”. His barb, strangely, only generated 840 complaints to Ofcom.

I’m not targeting free speech, and I stand firm by my belief that everyone’s entitled to express their opinions. Neither am I targeting comedy, because I believe political correctness shouldn’t be allowed to kill off comedy. What I am concerned about is this growing trend of inappropriately body-shaming people for their weight or size.

To that end, I have to ask why Mr. Allen’s wounding comments didn’t give rise to thousands of complaints instead of hundreds? Hence my concern: we’ve all become desensitised and accepting of the way in which a personal and highly inflammatory criticism can negatively impact another person’s self-esteem and emotional wellbeing.

Why do we fob off statements that are so brutal, they could potentially lead the person on the receiving end to resort to self-harm? And why are we, as a society, so accepting of remarks and beliefs that draw disturbing parallels between a person’s body-size and their self-worth?

And it’s not just people with more curvaceous bodies who are on the end of these thickos’ remarks. Others are also being ‘skinny-shamed’.

Last week, while flicking through several rails of push-up bras, trying to find one small enough to fit what I self-deprecatingly call my ‘high rise flats’, the sales assistant suggested that a “training bra” might suit my “more boyish shape”. At that moment, I felt like I’d just been hit by a psychological truck – and this woman was the driver!

I may be skating on thin ice here, but this woman who was drawing attention to my size wasn’t exactly ticking all of the Miss World boxes herself. However, instead of doing what I wanted to do and resorting to sarcasm (and as I’d just belittled my boobs myself), I resisted the urge to point out that rather than insulting customers, she might actually consider exercising her brain as vigorously as she exercised her big mouth.

I didn’t even retaliate when this rude individual muttered beneath her breath how ‘curvy women’ were ‘sexier than skeletons’. Wow! Okay, being vegan means my food choices are different, as in I don’t consume animals, eggs or dairy, etc., but I do eat quite a lot of food and I consume as many calories as a carnivore…I mean, my home is not exactly Tofu-Towers!

Nobody should be penalised or feel they’re at a disadvantage for their weight, height or body-shape. Nobody should be judged on what has now become society’s narrow standards of health and beauty…and yet we all are.

I’ve never been a curvaceous person, and that’s fine. Apart from the fact I’d love a decent set of boobs, I feel happy-ish with how I look, and so should you.

It’s about time that we all stood up to these ignorant ‘fat-phobic’ and ‘skinny-phobic’ prats, and instead make a conscious decision to shed the expectations that they (and society) have imposed on us. We are all loved, we are all valued and we are all beautiful just the way we are. But full disclosure, if I won the lottery tomorrow I can’t promise anyone I wouldn’t be Googling boob jobs!


I’m bringing ‘merry’ back!

The world may not resemble anything we anticipated it would be this time last year. But big picture, the people of Roscommon are resilient. Work on the Christmas lights has already begun in our county town and shops are displaying their festive fayre, so bring it on because Christmas is in the air!

I love Christmas, so much so that I got excited when I saw an ad in this very newspaper for Santa’s Grotto at Vita House. However, as my teenage granddaughter’s too cool to be attached to the ‘Santa visit thing’, and my youngest is too tiny to understand the importance of getting on board with Nana’s fabulous, fun-filled, festive family visits to the big guy, I’ll have to come up with another way to bring ‘merry’ back!

Regular readers will know that as a child raised by an abusive mother, wonder and amazement didn’t exactly ooze out of every Christmas spent in our house. That all changed the second I had my first daughter. My home, my rules and my Christmas meant I went big – and not just big,  gaudy. The tree didn’t just glisten, nay, the glare off it was visible from the Mir Space Station (before it crashed).

Yep, you get it, I’ve singlehandedly embedded Santa into the very culture of our family. Despite the fact there’ll be no ‘official’ visit to see Dadaí na Nollaig this year, you can bet your life I’ll still find a way to ring out plenty of joy this Christmas season.  Would it be considered too creepy for a middle-aged woman to visit Santa on her own? Asking for a friend.


We’ve become a highly litigious society

If one of my kids were to attend a children’s event in another person’s home, and climbed a wall resulting in them breaking their leg, I’d consider it an accident. I wouldn’t be blaming the person whose wall they climbed!

I firmly believe that a large majority of personal injury claims filed in this country are fully legitimate. However, when I read about a case where one parent sued another because their child, while attending a party, fell off a wall and broke their leg, my initial reaction was – how frivolous. How ridiculous!

And yes, if there’s an issue with any part of a property where an event is taking place, then of course the onus is on the owner to make visitors aware and to warn party-goers of any potential danger posed to themselves of their munchkins, etc. I get that. However, given we’ve become a highly litigious society, with the fear of litigation manifesting itself in some of the most bizarre ways, I’m really glad my parental party-throwing days are over.

When my girls attended their pals’ parties, they were pre-warned by me to behave themselves. But hey, as kids will be kids, I’m sure that pretty soon we’ll be sending them off to school, parties, and summer projects, etc., armed with not just our phone numbers, but a personal injury solicitor’s contact on speed dial!