Shame is all around
As a society, we have always been susceptible to making judgements on others. The rise of social media and the internet has made the passing of judgement on people, situations and life in general much easier.
Furthermore, my own blog is a way of me informing people; in the hope that I can entertain and empower them through my own perspective on life.
However, with every positive there is a negative; in this case, trolling and the concept of others ‘shaming’ each other on the internet. This topic was brought to the forefront of my mind when I read a post about one of my favourite YouTubers Brummymummyof2.
As a blogger and beauty addict, I watch quite a lot of YouTube. I have reduced the amount of YouTube I watch recently to dedicating more time to meditation and practising mindfulness. However, one guru that I always make sure to watch is Emma Conway A.K.A Brummy Mummy of 2.
I follow Emma on both Twitter and Instagram, she is an inspirational person who makes no apologies for how she is. As a blogger in my late 30’s, it is hard for me to relate sometimes to bloggers who are much younger. Emma’s approach to life is similar to my own; to empower people to embrace and be proud of who they are.
It all started with Photoshop
I scrolled through my Twitter when I noticed a post from Brummy mummy of two and clicked to investigate. I saw the picture and was confused over the images and then I read the caption in disbelief. Somebody had taken a picture of her in a swimsuit without permission and photoshopped it to show her much slimmer than she is.
You might think ‘What is wrong with that?’ but the sickening thing was the caption. The person had photoshopped her to show what she would look like at a ‘healthy’ weight. After doing this they then posted the picture and caption across Instagram. This act was done as a way of making a judgement upon her and in turn, body shaming her.
Why would anyone do this?
When I first saw this it brought about all different questions inside my mind as I became filled with anger. Why would somebody do such a cruel and hurtful thing? How would they feel if it happened to them? Why would anybody spend the time photoshopping a complete stranger? What gives that person the right to determine what a healthy body is? Haven’t they got anything better to do?
Why do people shame others?
Our brains are programmed to look for danger in order to survive; we either fight or run away. We are bombarded with negative information continually about how we should live our lives and how bad the world is. As I said in keeping up with the jones, we are constantly feeling like we need to compare and compete with each other to validate our own sense of well being.
Is it a case of schadenfreude?
I first heard of the term schadenfreude from the musical Avenue Q. Schadenfreude is a German word that means ‘pleasure derived by someone from other people’s misfortune’. When I read about this ‘fat shaming’ incident I immediately thought of this word. We have all had times where we have laughed at someone falling over or embarrassing themselves. Our brains will naturally prefer to laugh at accidents rather than to fear them; as fear is the most primal of responses that cause us to either fight or flee.
However, on closer research, I have found that Schadenfreude is done in a much more passive way. Laughing at people’s misfortune due to external factors is different to causing the person misery in the first place. I would suggest that people who intentionally inflict misery and pain to others show sadistic qualities.
Some people enjoy inflicting misery and suffering on others, it gives them control and a greater sense of their own importance. This has perhaps been the result of their upbringing, belief system and early life. This type of person enjoys making negative comments about others, it feeds them and makes them feel significant.
As a person who recognises she has issues with control, I recognise my tendencies to become angry in situations I cannot control and my instinct is to fight it. I would suggest that the people who shame others either do it to take control or out of ignorance. They will continue to inflict pain on others until they realise that they have a problem.
How to respond to shaming
Part of the reason I have written this is to commend Brummymummyof2 for the way she handled the situation. Instead of simply deleting the picture and caption she chose to post about it on her social media. However, unlike some people who would get angry and rant about how they have been mistreated and violated. Emma chose to be proud of the wayshe is and not apologise about her size. She focused on the fun she had with her children and that she posts these pictures to empower people rather than judge them.
On the thread, she posted ‘I know I’m not perfect. I know I am not slim. I’m not young. I’m not fashionable. But I choose to spend my days empowering women to be happy with themselves when they aren’t perfect, they’re not slim or young or wear bang on trend clothes. Which is better than sitting at home photoshopping strangers on the internet. I’m not ashamed of who I am. But I am ashamed that people exist who do things like this. As long as the sun is out? I’m rocking my size 18 and am proud of it.
Why not just delete the hate?
I have heard YouTubers and Bloggers talking about simply deleting or blocking the trolls. While this is a good solution and even better if you have somebody else to do the deleting for you, it feels like the easier option. Intentionally causing other people misery is not acceptable and it should not be merely brushed under the carpet. Communities need to unite in condemning this deplorable behaviour. Our youth are so heavily influenced by social media that I feel it should be highlighted that trolling is a sadistic quality and not acceptable.
Brummymuummyof2 was inspirational in the way she handled the situation. She did not get angry, she showed grace and above everything else, she believed in herself. She used the shaming to empower; accepting all of her imperfections and celebrating them. She showed that you do not have to be thin, young, on-trend or perfect to be happy; you just need to accept that you are valuable and worthy of respect. As a teacher, I am continually hearing people say that they are ‘not good enough’ and ‘not worth it’ which makes me sad. We are all unique, our biological makeup is completely different to anyone else (except twins etc.). Everyone is perfectly ‘imperfect’ and make our world a rich tapestry of colour and life. Imagine if everyone was the same; how boring life would be.
Be kind and curious
If we value our own worth and the worth of others, we are more likely to act out of kindness and curiosity. These are qualities that are often underrated but are essential to humanity co-existing and surviving in our modern age. People need to feel like they belong, that they are accepted within society and are valued for who they truly are.
Whenever you encounter negative people and their attempts to bring you down with them. Remember that they often suffer mentally themselves; this is especially the case if you have just gained acclaim or success. Wanting to bring down people who are talented or successful is called the Tall Poppy effect. Do not let the acts of others stop you blooming.
Have you ever encountered incidents like this online? How would you deal with people ‘shaming’ others? What is your opinion of the whole shaming movement? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments.
Ciao for now beauties xx