Culture

People Body-Shamed a Plus Size Model for Losing Weight

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters; inset via Instagram)
Apparently, Ashley Graham has to weigh what you want her to weigh.

Earlier this year, Ashley Graham was praised as a body-positive hero being the first plus-size model to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated — and now she’s being shamed for appearing to look thinner in some of her recent Instagram photos.

Basically, the people who are upset saw Graham as a sort of hero for “larger” women. Her having a “plus-size” body and getting work as a mainstream model either made them feel better about their own bodies or about their own cause.

“You did lose a lot of weight,” one commenter stated. “I am no longer a fan of yours. You betrayed a lot of people!”

“You’re not the ‘plus size’ model you were before . . . it’s letting everyone who loved you down!” wrote another.

Certainly, the media puts a lot of pressure on women to be thin and stay thin. But does this mean that we should swing the pendulum in the other direction and start pressuring women to stay “larger”? Um . . . no.

To say that Graham “betrayed” you or let you down by starting to weigh something other than what you personally would like her to weigh is not body positive; it’s saying that she has a responsibility to make sure that her body stays looking how you want it to look for your own needs — and suggesting that you have any degree of ownership over someone else’s body, that you somehow have some kind of stock in how it gets to look, is about as blatantly body-negative and anti-feminist as it gets.  

For the record, Graham responded to the critics in a comment defending her right to (gasp!) weigh how much she wants to weigh and not how much people on Instagram say she should:

“People come on my page and body shame me because I’m too big, because I’m too small, because I’m not good enough for their standards . . . But at the end of the day I’m good enough for me,” she wrote.

#related#(Note: I had to put quotes around the word “larger” throughout this article because the idea of classifying Graham — yes, even at her Sports Illustrated size — as being a “larger” woman, so brave to get so undressed, is laughable to me. First of all, in general, calling someone “brave” for taking her clothes off is about the meanest thing you can say. “Wow, you’re so brave for being naked!” really means “Wow, you’re so brave for being naked . . . even though you look like that.” Second of all, in the specific case of Ashley Graham, these kind of comments aren’t even really so much mean as they are just plain stupid. No one has ever looked at Ashley Graham and thought “ew.” Whether she is technically “plus size” as a model or not, no one would ever look at her and call her unattractive. She is conventionally, head-turningly, OMG-who’s-that-look-at-her attractive, and anyone who would say otherwise is either a troll or a liar or some pathetic dude in a polo shirt and boat shoes trying to impress a girl he’s on a date with by insisting she is the only beautiful person he has ever seen.)

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online

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