When you’re a woman, how you look matters more than almost anything. For famous women, public commentary on how much weight they’ve lost or gained (or, how much weight they need to lose or gain) is something of a sport for fans on blogs and Instagram. It’s a lame waste of time, it’s damaging to all women and it needs to stop.
Singer Brandy Norwood recently faced an onslaught of online attacks about her body after posting a series of Instagram photos showing the thin singer looking even smaller than usual. Pics posted of the star strolling around in London were treated to comments ranging from “Love her, but yes to skinny [sic]” to “…u look to skinny now not cute girl u need to gain some weight please…[sic]” to “Crack body diet.”
Besides the apparent disdain for the distinction between “to” and “too” that Brandy’s Instagram followers seem to have, it’s bad business to go in on someone’s weight, period. You don’t know why she appears to be thinner than usual and it’s really none of your business. You’re not actually concerned; you’re just gossiping.
It’s especially annoying when people throw out suggestions like “you need to eat” to someone who has been public about battling an eating disorder, like Brandy. Her “Behind the Music” special detailed how being an uber-famous teen drove her to anorexia and bulimia:
“I wanted to be so thin,” Brandy said on the show. “So I started not taking care of myself — not eating properly, not eating at all, diet pills, regurgitating, and all those things that girls do.”
All of our commentary on bodies—praise, ridicule and speculation alike—is contributing to a society where thinness is to be attained at all costs. We, all of us, are part of the problem that makes eating disorders an all-too-common disease for women and men. And, again, do we really need to say that, unless we’re doctors or superhuman beings with x-ray vision, we usually can’t make any sort of determination of “health” just by looking at a person?
Plus, if Brandy were actually suffering from an eating disorder, it wouldn’t be our business to speculate or condemn. Anorexia and bulimia are serious medical conditions, not things to be lightly suggested or ways to poke fun at people. And we won’t even get started on the implications of saying that someone has a “crack body diet.”
We don’t know how to talk about eating disorders, clearly. A blog post on Rhymes with Snitch about Brandy’s past battle with eating disorders featured 30 comments—almost all of which were joking or dismissive, like this one “Still no word though about her obvious Lacefront Disorder, but baby steps, ya’ll…baby steps.”
A Blogger addressed the comments, sort of, in a post that showed an Instagram video of Brandy dancing in front a table covered with food. One of the comments? “She still needs a cheeseburger.”