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Words of wisdom: How these 8 high-profile women respond to being body-shamed

‘My body is an ever changing organism.’

DESPITE THE BEST efforts of many in recent years, body-shaming is something we continue to encounter in both mainstream and social media.

shutterstock_397203754 Source: Shutterstock/Erik Kalibayev

Sometimes it’s dressed up a concern, other times it’s disguised as a form of guidance, and more often that not, it’s doled out as straight-up criticism.

The establishment and subsequent popularity of body positivity movements like iweigh do much to highlight how desperately people want to stamp out body-shaming in all its forms; adding their voice to a narrative which is attempting to reverse the ingrained sense of shame many of us have when it comes to our physical appearance.

Here we take a look at what some of the world’s most high-profile women say in response to a culture which seems intent on measuring them by their looks alone.

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Speaking to Vogue, Rihanna says acknowledging the fact she’s simply human and teaming that with a sense of humour has helped her dismiss the body shaming she has endured on an international scale.

You’ve just got to laugh at yourself, honestly. I mean, I know when I’m having a fat day and when I’ve lost weight. I accept all of the bodies. 

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In conversation with The New York Times, Melissa McCarthy says she counters the body-shaming she has endured by deflecting attention back on her critic. 

I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.

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Like Melissa, Modern Family actress, Ariel Winter, insists that criticism says more about your critic than it ever will about you. 

In an Instagram post, she explained her coping mechanism when body-shamed online.

The question I ask myself every time I read the mean comments is if this is how you talk to a stranger online, I can only imagine how cruelly you speak to yourself. Accept all that you are and know that all your flaws make you the perfect you.

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Lena Dunham has combatted body-shame by consistently reminding herself that her body is not a fixed entity, and likely never will be. Learning to accept that her body will change and adapt is the key.

Posting on Instagram, she wrote:

I’ve accepted that my body is an ever changing organism, not a fixed entity – what goes up must come down and vice versa. I smile just as wide no matter my current size because I’m proud of what this body has seen and done and represented.

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Keira Knightley, who has often been criticised for her slender frame, reassessed how she felt about her body after giving birth to her daughter in 2015.

Speaking to Elle USA, she said acknowledging the capabilities of her body helps drown out any criticism.

You go through pregnancy and labour and then feeding the kid and you go, Wow, my body is totally amazing, and I’m never going to not like it again, because it did this, and this is fucking extraordinary.

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Ever since Adele launched her career back in 2006, she’s been subject to incessant body-shaming, but she has refused to succumb to the expectations foisted upon her by the music industry.

Speaking to British Vogue, Adele says she has seen the effect that internalising criticism has done to others, and she prioritises caring for her mental welbeing over responding to the standards expected of her from others.

I’ve seen people where it rules their lives, who want to be thinner or have bigger boobs, and how it wears down on them. And I don’t want that in my life. I have insecurities, of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.

Mickey's 90th Spectacular, Los Angeles, Oct 6, 2018 Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Like Adele, Kristen Bell has recognised the detrimental impact comparing your body to others can have on your psyche, and refuses to play the game.

Speaking to RedBook, she said:

Look, I’m like any other woman. Comparison is one long, agonising death and does not interest me at all. I am not a woman whose self-worth comes from her dress size.

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Speaking to Glamour, Emma Watson, like Lena Dunham, said she accepts that it’s unlikely her body shape will remain the same. 

Having seen her weight fluctuate across three dress sizes, she refuses to put more emphasis on her appearance over her personality and contribution to the wider world.

I’ve accepted my body shape more as I’ve got older. I went through a stage of wanting to have that straight-up-and-down model look, but I have curves and hips, and in the end you have to accept yourself as you are.

She adds:

I keep telling myself that I’m a human being, an imperfect human being who’s not made to look like a doll, and that who I am as a person is more important than whether at that moment I have a nice figure.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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