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BrandyWhen 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.”

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  • Tina L

    Brandy has given interviews in the not too distant past about being obsessed with being skinny and having an eating disorder. So why the surprise when she turns up in pictures looking really skinny and people comment on it?

  • For me, I am more concerned about the nonchalant attitude that the blogs’ readers had written about Brandy’s admission of having an eating disorder.

  • Guilty as charged

    I was just reading an article that had a picture of Brandy & the first thing that came to my mind was that she was too skinny & needed to eat. I immediately got convicted, thought to myself “who am I to sit up here & talk about her (even in my mind)” & remembered my own problems with self image and acceptance (at 5′ tall & 103 lbs, I thought I was fat & no one could convince me any differently). I don’t follow celebs or anything like that AT ALL so when I was led to Google “Brandy & her weight” & learned that she has been wrestling with an eating disorder for years…well, talk about feeling ashamed of myself. So, Brandy, I apologize for thinking those bad thoughts about you.

  • Yup

    I’ve been overweight all my life. I’ve lost a lot of weight and gained it back several times. I guess that is an eating disorder. Though, people have more compassion for women who are too skinny, not too fat. Anyway, it’s a struggle. I’m just starting to get my health back on track. I like what writer said about beauty being very important. At the end of the day, it is not important because with all people it fades and what is on the inside is what keeps your marriages and relationships together. However, it really is important, especially if you’re female. People put so much worth on women based upon looks. You can be plane, okay, kinda cute, but you can’t be fat or ugly. It’s like you don’t exist as person. When I was in college, men would see me coming and instead of propping the door open slightly, so it wouldn’t slam in my face as I went into the building. You know that polite thing people do regardless of sex or race? They’d just slam the door behind themselves ( in my face) like jerks. I’d go places and people at the front desk would treat me like crap. I didn’t know why until someone pointed out that I had let myself go. Once this girl let the class know, that she had a phobia of overweight people, because of a childhood trauma that she experienced. Anyway, I understood where she was coming from and tried to take the insult on the chin, but the girl kept announcing it over and over again almost everyday in class, as if to antagonize me, because I was the only person in the class who was really fat. Long story short, I know what it feels like to have people judge you on your looks. Cool thing about Brandy is, people except skinny more than fat.