I have to make a few things clear at the outset…
I’m not a social justice warrior…but I do care about justice.
I’m not a snowflake…but I don’t want to hurt anyone.
I don’t do virtue signalling…but I try to be virtuous.
I’m reluctant to call myself a feminist for fear of defining that in a way that doesn’t sit well with some school of thought or other…but I believe in equality.
I try not to “do politics” here on Twitter…but I understand that politics matters.
I’m very sorry if you would like me to be any of those things…and I am, categorically, not suggesting that being interested in social justice or worrying about the impact of particular world views on others or virtue or feminism are not good things.
I’m not saying any of that.
I’m just acknowledging how difficult accepting any of those labels is fraught with danger, particularly in a space like Twitter or within the confines of my limited understanding and vocabulary.
This post is just my view, my take, my opinion on a little Twitter storm that has broken today.
Certain news outlets have been making snide, mean spirited and unnecessary comments about the clothes, appearance and body shapes of some female celebrities who attended some showbiz shindig or other last night.
Apparently you have to be a certain weight or shape to wear certain items of clothing and if you don’t have that weight or shape (determined by some unknown body of opinion makers) then you are badly dressed, the worst dressed, too big etc etc etc.
I have been known to make the odd unpleasant remark about the clothes that some people wear. I’ve even made nasty remarks, usually inside my own head, about how those clothes look depending on the body shape of the person wearing them.
That’s because I am, at least sometimes, a bit of an arsehole.
Maybe you are too.
Maybe you are as guilty as I am of making judgemental comments or mean remarks.
Good for you.
The thing is, here is what I wouldn’t do with those fleeting, almost uncontrolled, thoughts…post them in a national newspaper for thousands of people to see, including the person I am criticising and thus create a space where people even more awful than me can pile in and make even more unpleasant comments to that individual, causing embarrassment, upset and hurt along the way.
You know why?
Because I’m not that much of an arsehole.
It’s also because I know that my own body doesn’t exactly remind anyone of Zac Effron. I’m a slightly squidgy, slightly overweight, unfit, middle-aged man…
I also understand that my view of my own body and of other people is shaped, manipulated, controlled even by people who exist on a diet of air and rubbing celery shavings on the soles of their feet. People who still think that the warped, perverse, body image shoved in our faces by the fashion industry is healthy or helpful.
These same news organisations who have devoted column inches to Scarlet Moffat’s gown could have turned that space over to an article encouraging people to pick up some litter, check on an elderly neighbour, promote a foodbank drive or any one of a million other positive and helpful things.
That they chose not to do that and, instead, decided that they would wilfully look for a way to make someone feel worse about themselves is a damning indictment of them.
I’m going to try and be better…it would be nice if those journals who promote this awfulness would do the same thing.