I love the internet. All of it. I love Facebook, I love blogs, I love Huffington Post, I love Twitter wars even though I still haven’t quite grasped the concept. I love the memes and the emoticons and all of that shit. I’m a part of a couple of separate groups on the book face and love the sense of community. I spend a lot of time perusing online and interacting with people I haven’t met in real life. (Yet.) That being said, with this significant amount of screen time, there’s a lot of things that drive me crazy about the online community. Some of the words/phrases/taglines which are now a normal part of our lexicon that started out on the internet make me nuts, and sometimes I’ve found myself literally sitting on my hands trying not to comment on a Facebook post about politics that I know no good will come of.
Most of it, I’ve learned to just ignore. For instance, I now know better than to read the comments on any story that could be considered remotely polarizing. If it has to do with race, religion, politics, or how to raise a child, I steer clear of the comment section. Mostly for my own sanity, because if anything makes you question your faith in the human race, it’s the comments section on an article about at what age it’s safe to leave your child at home alone (never is the correct answer, according to most.) On a side note to this, I don’t know how you parents do it. If I had kids I think I would have to turn off the internet forever. According to the internet, you are ALWAYS doing something wrong. I’m already steeling for the next election, as I’ve learned that politics bring out the stupid in everyone on both sides and really, there’s no point in engaging. No one wins these arguments; the chances of someone changing their entire belief system based on my Facebook comment are pretty low. And yet the temptation is still high.
But nothing – NOTHING – gets me more crazy than the “shaming.” You know what I’m talking about. Fat shaming, slut shaming, clothes shaming, blond shaming, etc., everyone and everything can be shamed on the internet. Hell, we do it to our cats and dogs. Any action or reaction can be considered shaming. Got laughed at on the beach? Fat shamed. Got smirked at wearing a short skirt? Slut shamed. Didn’t have a date to a wedding and someone remarked upon it? Single shamed.
I don’t believe anyone should be shamed for being themselves. Hey, you want to wear a bikini but don’t have the “perfect” body for it? Fucking go for it. Love short skirts? Wear ’em. Everywhere. Big fan of 40’s style dresses in the middle of winter? Do you, man, and don’t let anyone tell you not to. But understand me – if someone side-eyes your out of this world outfit, or raises an eyebrow at your miniskirt, or points at your bathing suit – you’re not being shamed. You’re probably being laughed at. It’s not nice, and sure, in my world, none of this would happen. But not everything is being shamed. Sometimes? People are just making fun of you. And that’s okay. It happens to me all the time.
Look, no one in the world wants a society where everyone is accepting of each other and happy with themselves more than me. Ask anyone I know – I will defend anyone and everyone’s right to be themselves and be happy with it. And certainly, the terms above exist and happen. I’m not making light of that. What I have a problem with is every time I turn on my tablet, I see another article about how someone was “shamed,” in some way or another, and it’s getting out of control. I brought examples and everything. See below.
Teacher Lunch Shames Mom for Sending Kid to School with Oreos.
Lunch shamed?? Are you even kidding me right now? You were LUNCH SHAMED?? No. This is not a real thing. Your kid’s teacher sent home a note questioning your choices. While I personally disagree with said teacher and would certainly be sending my child to school the rest of the week with nothing but Snickers and Doritos covered in fudge sauce in their lunch box, this is not shaming. Lunch shamed. Seriously. Look at that. Look at it again. Lunch shamed. Does that actually sound like a thing to you?
I Was Gluten Shamed in the Liquor Store
Yeah, read that one again. Look, I get the whole gluten-free movement, and anyone suffering from Celiac disease has my sympathy because it’s a giant pain in the ass to try and eat gluten free, and yeah, I’m sure you get a lot of shit from people who are tired of dealing with people like myself who stay away from gluten because it’s the trendy thing to do. I get that. But no. You weren’t “gluten shamed.” BECAUSE THAT ISN’T A THING. Someone was a dick when you asked for gluten-free beer. Does it suck? Sure. Were you gluten shamed? Again, no, because that’s fucking ridiculous. Gluten shamed? Are you fucking kidding me?
I have more. There’s a blog post I read recently about a girl going without a bra for a year. Apparently people at her work and social circles pointed it out, and this was deemed slut shaming. I’m sorry, but it’s not. I respect and agree with the fact that any woman should be able to wear whatever she wants if she’s happy with it. But if you decide to conduct an experiment with the sole intention of gauging people’s reactions, please don’t be surprised when they react exactly as you would expect. If you’re swinging around double D’s without a bra – and seriously, how physically uncomfortable was this girl for an entire year? I have to put on a bra to walk into the living room- it’s not a shock that those around you notice it. That’s not slut shaming. That’s “wow, wouldn’t you be more comfortable with a bra??”
If all of the above were real things, I’ve been shamed many times this week. I was beer shamed when I asked where the Miller Lite was at the super hipster organic, IPA-filled store next to my gym. Speaking of the gym, I was gym shamed when I tripped getting on the elliptical and the guy next to me laughed. I was cat shamed when my mom told me – again – that my cat should be set free because he’s a dick. I was bus shamed when I asked someone to move their bag so I could sit down.
We need to stop whining. Seriously. People get made fun of, people point and laugh at the out of the ordinary. And yes, in a perfect world, that wouldn’t happen. We’d all be happy and singing songs holding hands around a campfire, and sure, I’d love that. But it isn’t going to happen. So instead of crying, “FOR SHAME,” at everything we don’t like, let’s concentrate on being okay with our own decisions and outfits and Lunchables, all right? Like I said before – do you. Be happy. Stop making mountains out of molehills. We’re all going to be okay.
Remember when you were in junior high school and there was that one awful, mean girl? The one who made a big point to take your usual seat at the lunch table and leave you standing with your stupid lunch bag, too timid to stand up to her and turning bright red when none of your other friends did either? She was the one that told the boy you liked how you wrote his name in your notebook, made fun of your bookbag, helpfully told your teacher about the note you wrote (at her insistence,) and loudly announced that you had your period in a room full of prepubescent boys. Then she asked that boy to the dance for you, bought the same bookbag in a different color, and conspiratorally asked you for a tampon in the bathroom, fooling you once again into thinking she was your friend.
Of course you remember her. She was a fucking menace. All of us remember her. Because at one point in time, we all knew her, or we were her, or wanted to be her friend, depending on which way your hormones were raging that day. Junior high girls are the epitome of bullies; they’re why no woman, ever, recalls with complete happiness the preteen years. There may have been good moments, but they were all tainted by that awful girl. You show me a woman that cannot recall, with alaming accuracy, a traumatizing encounter with that girl at her school and I will show you a woman who is still plotting her revenge.
So what is it, exactly, about social media that makes grown women turn into the adult version of that girl? Under the guise of screen names, we have no problem calling other women fat, ugly, stupid, the list goes on. We have no trouble criticizing a woman’s entire parenting style based on one photograph, her entire wardrobe based on one outfit, her entire personality based on one comment. What the hell, ladies? What about the anonymity of the internet has turned us all into Regina George?
I bet Maria Kang is wondering the same thing. If you haven’t heard – and I’m sure most of you have – Ms. Kang is a fitness blogger who has come under a staggering amount of scrutiny for a photo she posted to her own Facebook page. Here’s the picture.
Looks pretty good, doesn’t she? Three little kids and still puts that much time and energy into her fitness and health? She probably eats healthy and hardly ever uses the cats “bothering her” as a reason not to do her home fitness DVDs. I bet she doesn’t have a recipe called “Spaghetti Monster” that includes cream cheese. And I’d wager she doesn’t eat chicken kiev for breakfast whilst watching the marathon on TV! Kudos to you, Ms. Kang!
This is what went through my head when I saw the picture. Did it make me feel bad about myself? No. Did I feel as though she was chastising me or shaming me? Not so much. Did it propel me off the couch? No, but if I was forced to pick an emotion, it would be “inspired” as opposed to “shamed.” If she can do it with three kids, I certainly could. Then I saw she was a fitness blogger with a huge following, and honestly, I thought, what a fabulous tagline! If I was actively trying to lose weight, I would print this picture out and put it on my fridge. Good for her!
The internets disagreed. While there were certainly people that supported her and agreed with the message, a good portion of the 18,000 comments – yes, you read that right, and I bet you couldn’t find an article about the government shutdown with half as many comments, but that’s another bag of apples entirely – were downright hateful. People called her a liar, (because obviously she couldn’t look THAT good,) a terrible mother, (because clearly a nanny was raising her children; obviously the only thing that is important to her is looking beautiful,) and even went so far as to question her children’s parentage, (“They’re probably not even her kids; they all look different.”) Common denominator in these comments? All women.
What the hell, ladies? Why the hate? Here’s a successful woman – a wife and mother who blogs about what works for her and how she’s been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and workout routine while managing a busy family. She’s a fitness blogger, which leads me to believe that most people following her are women trying to do what she does, who are looking for advice and inspiration. So why, instead of taking that photo as an inspiration and getting moving, are we sitting behind our computers, trying to find the faults to tear her down? It makes no sense.
While we’re on tearing down – can we all please leave Miley Cyrus the fuck alone? I swore I wasn’t going to chime in on this so as not to add to the fact that WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT HER, but I can’t help myself. I saw today that Paul McCartney finally weighed in on what is apparently the debate of the goddamn year. It’s only a matter of time before the President chimes in and then we’re all going to be mad because he has better things to be doing but you know what? We made this happen. We have taken a performance on an awards show and elevated it to a national concern about the youth of today, turning Miley into a cautionary tale about what happens to good little Hannah Montana when she doesn’t listen to her parents. Give me a break. You don’t want your daughter to look up to or emulate her? I bet your mama didn’t want you to act like and dress like Madonna, which only made you like her more. And I bet her parents didn’t want her dating that boy who tried to look like that dirty hippie, Paul McCartney.
My point? She isn’t really doing anything different – it’s just that every single word, thought, and action is immediately visible and public now. And at this point, it doesn’t matter what she does or says – she could be saving orphans and kittens in her spare time and people are still going to be all, from behind their computers, “Yeah, but did you see those shorts she was wearing?” Which is how I hope she sees it – something along the lines of “Well, they’re not going to be happy anyway, might as well get naked on a wrecking ball!”
Maybe next time instead of automatically assuming the worst, we think for a second of whether we would say out loud to one person what we’re about to publish silently to hundreds? Don’t turn into that junior high bully. You remember how awful that felt – I bet women like Maria and Miley do, too.