Buffy the Body Shamer

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Honestly, what did the media used to do before the advent of social media? Where did they find the never-ending supply of material to use as a filler and click-bait? It seems like nowadays every second news story is about a) something someone who might or might not be famous posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or some such, and/or b) the outrage – in social media – caused by the said social media posting .

Today’s case in point: “Sarah Michelle Gellar slammed over body-shaming comments”. Needless to say, everything in this headline except the name of the subject is open to debate. And yes, I’m only writing about it because I wanted an opportunity to post a picture of the good Republican gal Gellar in lingerie.

Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar is best known as feminist hero Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, but the star’s latest Instagram post has done nothing to endear her to the sisterhood.

Gellar has been accused of body-shaming women, a day out from America’s favourite excuse to eat — Thanksgiving.

The 41-year-old star shared a series of throwback photos from a raunchy 2007 shoot she did for men’s magazine, Maxim, where she is wearing well, not much. But it was the caption that went along with the pics that really rubbed people up the wrong way.

Gellar wrote: “I’m just going to pin these up all over my house as a reminder not to overeat on Thursday #thanksgivingprep.”

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And what of being slammed?

While the post had amassed 170,000 likes, some people were not so enthralled, saying the statement could be “triggering” for those battling eating disorders.

“One day of eating good food and enjoying tradition with your family and friends won’t change your body. And even if it did … is it bad to be anything but slim?” one person ranted.

Another person argued: “Hey @sarahmgellar I freakin love you, but this messaging (esp for young vulnerable girls) is crap. What about someone who can do both?

“What about considering your messages through a body-shaming/adding to shitty culture filter before posting? Your body is gorgeous, but so are all bodies — chubby, fat, curves need lifting up, not more demonising.”

In other words, in amongst tens of thousands of people who liked the photo and its message, there are a few randoms who have problems with it. I guess it’s the modern equivalent of going out onto the street and doing a vox populi and then writing an article based on one or two negative comments, all with an added bonus that the journo doesn’t even have to get off their ass; it’s enough to open an internet browser. Either way, it’s not news, and it’s not a story.

And don’t even get me started on the substance of the “controversy”. As our societies are getting increasingly heavy, with the rates of obesity and overweight steadily increasing, it’s no surprise that “fat shaming” and associated concepts around body shape/weight/image are becoming a thing; quite simply more and more people are directly affected by such discussions. Add into the mix the identity politics and third-wave feminism with their unrelenting focus on victimhood and oppression and the age old story of mean girls becomes instead a political cause. The message from all those “triggered” is that Gellar should not be allowed to talk about her particular body in a positive manner lest she offends someone. If you happen to be slim – I suspect Gellar has “skinny” genes but also works hard on her body – it’s neither anything to note much less celebrate nor is the wish to retain such body shape something that should be freely expressed or commended.

Once again, it’s not about giving women more freedom and options to say and do what they want but about replacing one set of norms with another and expecting all women to toe the line.

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