In case you missed it, here’s your daily reminder to stop making comments about people’s bodies.
This week, Selena Gomez was forced to explain herself once again after critics took aim at her appearance. The former child actor, who has been heavily scrutinized in the public eye since her Disney Channel days, addressed comments about her body during a TikTok live.
In 2015, Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus – a long-term, incurable condition that impacts the immune system. The Only Murders in the Building star told her fans that one of the side effects of the medication she takes for her autoimmune disorder includes weight gain.
She added, “So, yeah, not a model, never will be.”
She is right, people rarely know the real story. Selena Gomez has been open with fans about her health journey even when she didn’t have to be, yet she has consistently been the target of body-shaming comments.
In 2018, the Rare Beauty founder was the subject of scrutiny when she was photographed by paparazzi while on the beach in a bikini. Selena, who appeared to be simply enjoying herself, daring to wear a swimsuit on an actual beach, was met with unsolicited comments from people picking apart her appearance and weight, even questioning whether it was really her in the picture.
This year, Selena faced body-shaming yet again when she stepped out at the 2023 Golden Globes, as people remarked on her puff-sleeved dress. Plus, she wouldn’t be a woman in Hollywood if someone didn’t ask the age-old body-shaming question: “Is she pregnant?”
The ridiculousness escalated further when was even shamed for her Jack in the Box order. If I was criticised by strangers on the internet every time I impulsively ordered a from McDonald’s, I would be in hibernation.
As if it wasn’t already hard enough to constantly be under a microscope, Selena has been forced to explain herself over and over again about something that she can’t control. Perhaps if people understood her health struggle better – despite the fact that Selena released an entire documentary about her lupus and bipolar disorder – they would be more inclined to refrain from making negative comments, but one can only dream.
Before going public with her lupus diagnosis, Selena underwent chemotherapy as a result of the autoimmune disease. Two years later, she had undergone a kidney transplant at just 24 years old due to lupus-related organ damage.
It goes without saying that people shouldn’t remark on weight gain, loss, or size in general because you don’t know what people are going through behind the scenes, and because it is frankly no-one else’s business. In the case of Selena Gomez, focus on the constant criticism distracts from her performances, accomplishments, and dedication to mental health awareness.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a majority of fans, defenders, and writers who have celebrated Selena. As a result of speaking candidly about her health journey and weight gain, Selena has also been celebrated over the past year as a beacon of body positivity. But perhaps this label is just as damaging as the ones given to her by body-shamers.
What once was a movement dedicated towards the acceptance of plus-size people in mainstream media has now devolved into a catch-all term – one that, for many influencers, celebrities and pretty much anyone above a size four, was thrust upon them without permission.
Selena herself was praised as a body positivity icon last summer when she declared that “real stomachs are coming the f*** back” as she filmed herself in a swimsuit. Instantly, countless articles popped up online that listed Selena’s best quotes about body positivity, or how her “Bikini TikTok is the Body Positivity Inspo We Needed Today”.
After just one TikTok, Selena was immediately declared a body positivity icon, simply because she was existing in her own body.
She walks the red carpet and days later she’s forced to explain her weight gain. But if she posts an innocuous video in her swimsuit, she’s then heralded as a body positive icon. If the mixed messaging is confusing for me, I can’t imagine how disorienting it must be for her.
If Selena Gomez’s appearance is so routinely questioned where does that leave the rest of us? Will we ever move on from endless analysis of female celebrities’ weight, and even our own?