When we think of body shaming, we usually think of lady-victims. But apparently, the internet knows no gender-limitations. Because the internet is a douche.
I don’t know who Wentworth Miller is, but apparently he’s British. He’s also an actor in a show called Prison Break. Whatever that is, it’s not The Walking Dead. And whoever he is, he’s not Rick Grimes. So immediately, my attention is lost.
The only man I’ll ever love.
In any event, as if the indignity of not being Rick Grimes is not enough, Mr. Miller was recently the subject of a not-very-nice meme. It was about his weight, and Prison Break, and McDonalds. He came back with an epic response:
The Problem of the Internet
Sure, this IS an instance of body shaming. But it’s also a joke.
..It’s a joke at someone else’s expense. Which is never nice. But jokes are often mean. That’s why we make them. Jokes are aggressive. Should we expect the world stop making them?
I’m reminded of an episode of SpongeBob called “Squirrel Jokes.” Spongebob makes a killing telling jokes at Sandy the Squirrel’s expense. Sandy is sad, but Spongebob convinces her it’s no big deal. She concedes, until people (fish) begin treating her differently as a result of Spongebob’s act. Ultimately, she nearly kills Spongebob by purposely acting in a manner consistent with his caricature of her. Lesson learned!
The result? Spongebob doesn’t stop making fun of Sandy. Instead, he starts making fun of everyone. No one feels like the sole victim, and everyone is happy.
The problem of the internet is that unlike Spongebob and Sandy, Miller and whoever made this meme are not friends. The meme-maker is anonymous, and to him Miller is just a face – he doesn’t know anything about his personal struggle.
At the same time, Miller is a public figure, and he made himself that way.
Kudos to Miller for speaking out. He took this negative comment, and turned it into a platform to talk about depression and suicide. He OWNED this situation – and that’s the best you can do.
But at the same time, the internet is calling this body shaming.
..And I have to wonder – is this really comparable to the body shaming that women experience on the daily? Isn’t this more comparable to the telling of a not nice joke? It’s rude, and it’s hurtful. But is it really the same issue?
- Body shaming, as it applies to AVERAGE sized women is generally perpetuated by the media, not by a random person on their computer.
- While men are also expected to fit into certain standards, I can’t imagine anyone on the street looking at Miller in that state and calling him fat
- If anything, it’s in the contrast – the before photo is so thin
It’s About Being Nice
Anonymous people on the internet will take any opportunity to make a joke, forgetting (or not caring) that the subject of their joke is a real human being who might be affected by it.
I don’t think this is necessarily about body shaming. I think it’s about living in a very weird and interesting time where people have a platform to comment on anything, and often use that platform in a mean way. So really it’s about a bigger message.
Who knows – Miller could have been perfectly thin and picking his nose. Maybe there would have been a different meme.
Most people who “liked” or shared this meme probably thought nothing of it. It was just a tiny moment in their day.
But this is a great reminder of a basic courtesy – don’t say things about other people that you wouldn’t want said about you. Because when it comes to the internet, there IS someone on the other side.
..And don’t “like” or share those things either. (Unless of course it’s REALLY funny).
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