Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fat Shaming of Christina Aguilera

'secretpotion_05' photo (c) 2011, YayA Lee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


I don't follow celebrity gossip, nor do I normally have much to say about it, but the recent fat shaming of Christina Aguilera, is disgusting and must stop.  Not only does it serve as yet another example of the ways in which womens bodies are continually disciplined socially, it also stands as evidence as how easy it is to shame fat people just for existing.

E!'s Fashion Police Friday, Kelly Osbourne who has had her own very public struggles with weight, decided to attack Christina.
Osbourne was criticizing Aguilera's performance look at last weekend's Michael Jackson Tribute Concert. The 30-year-old paired a pantsless ensemble with fishnet tights, heavy makeup and supersized hair.

But Ozzy's daughter wasn't the only cohost to attack Aguilera's figure. "Lady Marmalade got into the peanut butter again," Joan Rivers sniped.

"I'm looking at this and thinking, 'Well, she's put on weight. This just isn't flattering,'" George Kotsiopoulos said. "But this is just a crappy outfit, regardless. No matter what shape your body is in, it's just bad."

Kotsiopoulos pointed out Aguilera was "still probably a size 2/4," but Osbourne was quick to disagree.

"Trust me," she said. "I'm a 2/4. That is not a 2/4."

This isn't the first time Osbourne has criticized The Voice coach. Last month on E!'s Fashion Police she called Aguilera a "fat bitch."
Now that Osbourne has lost almost fifty pounds, I guess she feels that it is her turn to play mean girl.  Yeah for keeping alive infantile behaviour that speaks of internalized sexism and fat hatred. To me, Osbourne's behavior points to the manner in which both women have bought into the notion that there is some idealized form of the female body, and that it is okay to fat shame publicly.


Even at her highest weight, Osbourne is not someone who I would have classified as fat. The idea that we all need to squeeze ourselves into a size 2 or 4 is ridiculous to be considered beautiful or acceptable is ridiculous. It wasn't that long ago that the fat shaming of Jessica Simpson, caused her to publicly promise to loose weight and get her bikini body back.  Please keep in mind that at the time, Simpson was a size 10.

Even if Osbourne or Christina were indeed actually fat, it would not say anything significant about them.  Fat should be seen as a descriptor, no different than short, or tall, and it is only because of our desire to police and uphold impossibly rigid appearance standards, that fat has come to mean something that we should be ashamed of.

Christina is an an entertainer and therefore the conversation should have been about whether or not her performance was entertaining, and if she hit all the right notes, not whether or not she was too fat. As much as I am no fan of Aguilera, I am even less of a fan of women's work being totally ignored and devalued because she failed to have the proper appearance.  Osbourne's comments were laced with anti-woman language, and playing gotcha does not address the fact that these sort of attacks are wrong, no matter who is doing the shaming.  All Kelly did was affirm every single attack that has ever been aimed at her about her weight. 

I know that Osbourne never signed up to be a role model to young girls but I cannot help but wonder if she realized after she was done speaking the harm that her comments caused.  Not only do the encourage young women to believe that their self worth is solely based on their physical appearance, they encourage the idea that it is okay to abuse or pick on someone if they fail to be skinny enough.  How can we expect teens to know that bullying is wrong, if adult engage in it?