Body Shaming, Internet and Wentworth Miller

Yesterday I found myself scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed (like most of us humans do every 3 minutes) when I came across with a post featuring two pictures of Wentworth Miller.

The post, by Facebook page The LAD Bible, showed a pictured of a shirtless and tattooed Wentworth, next to a picture where he had some more weight. The message said:

‘When you break out of prison and find out about McDonald’s monopoly….’

My first reaction was to comment on my friend’s sharing. But then I decided to have a look at the comments on the original post and….shocker! It was utterly disappointing.

It was like reliving High School all over again.

On the other hand, I could not stop thinking about how different would those reactions have been if, instead of two pictures of Wentworth, the would have posted two pictures of…let’s say…Taylor Swift.

Not sure about you, but I can see that making it to the main page of every blogging webpage!

Needless to say, when one engages in this type of behavior, someone’s bound to get hurt. A few hours ago Wentworth Miller addressed the issue:

This was soon followed by a public apology by The LAD Bible:

Now, while I appreciate the fact that they apologised…I can’t help but think that, had Wentworth not addressed the issue publicly, the meme would still be around there. And, in fact, it probably is!

Looking at the apology note, it also seems like the publication of that ‘meme’ is only undesirable because Wentworth had health issues at the time of the second picture. And this is when it get really plain wrong.

Body-shaming is not okay. Whether there is a health issue behind it or not.

Body-shaming is an awful and cruel way to make ourselves feel better by pushing other people down and criticising them.

It shows a complete misperception of ourselves, and creates a completely irreal sense of entitlement over other people’s bodies and/or looks.

And this is specially true to the LGBTQ+ context.

I have already addressed this topic in previous articles like Real (Gay) Men (Don’t) Have Curves and Men’s Standards Of Beauty Around The World; and this seems to be an issue that will keep growing and growing.

And yes, I  am aware that internet can be cruel…we make jokes and memes all the time. But we should know where to draw the line, and when to stand up and say ‘Wait a second. This is not okay’.

Because if it we make it okay to shame a person for being just the way he/she/e is (specially if that person is going through a rough patch), then we haven’t learnt anything, have we?

I would love to continue this articles with more thought on the subject…but it would only overcomplicate something that is very simple.

Just…do the right thing 🙂

Warwick Rowers - http://warwickrowers.org

Naked Against Homophobia: SportAllies and Warwick Rowers Case

I’ve been following this initiative for a long time, and it’s been a while since I wanted to talk with about it. Now I have the chance to do it.
It’s true that there are a lot of other wonderful initiatives against homophobia and bullying, and they all deserve a medal. But this one in particular caught my attention a couple of years ago.

Why? You may ask. Well, sport have been (and still are) many times linked with the ‘straight prototype’.
In HS or College, we have the Nerd, the Geek… and we also have the succesful and popular straight guy. Yes, the one that ends up being the King of the Ball together with the Captain of the Cheerleaders in every American film.

In danger of erring through excessive generalisation, this prototype is directly related with the bullying guy. I will strongly remark here that I do no intend to say that every successful and popular is a homophobic bully, or that there’s a higher chance for that type of person to be or become one. Not at all. We all have a small bully in ourselves.

However, I do believe that, if a kid looks into the feature that such a guy is supposed to have, he will find bullying amongst them. We have to thank Hollywood and their concept of the teen ‘All American Boy’ for that.

Then, what happens if that stereotype is broken? If the successful, hot looking, sport guy is making a calendar to fight against homophobia? It may not seem like great strategy, but I am absolutely sure that it works.

One could argue that good arguments and information can be as effective, but when it comes to teenagers and young people, visuals are more effective.

Why do you think that brands hire successful sport men to promote their stuff. Because the kids are going to buy it! In Marketing we call them ‘Influencers’, and they have been the pivotal points of many campaigns. (I talked about how celebrities can really influence social movements in this other article)

Too much beating around the bush…

Warwick Rowers’ Calendar with Sport Allies is the perfect example of all this. From their website:

In 2012 we decided to join the fight against homophobia, and were moved by your response. Now we are building on that response through Sport Allies, a programme to reach out to young people challenged by bullying, homophobia or low self-esteem.
[…] We are currently undertaking a far-reaching review of the research into homophobia in sport and its impact on the development of young people. We will be publishing our findings shortly.

The result? They are going viral. The have already been featured in many blogs, newspapers, TV programs.
Why? Because they are doing it right.
I mean, they could just simply do the photo shoot, get the calendar out and forget about it. Which would still deserve a medal. But no, they want to make a charity of Sport Allies, they educate, they do interviews, they join the Gay Pride Parade, they are developing ‘far-reaching review of the research into homophobia in sport’. And the guys are in Social Media networks, and they are great.

I mean, I want to go there and row!

I am not going to lie, the fact that they are a team of very good-looking straight (or bi, or gay, I really don’t care) rowers getting naked is the main allure of the calendar.

But isn’t that what it’s all about? Taking what we’ve got and making the best of it? Using it to support a good cause?

I can barely think of any gay or bisexual footballer or sportsman in my country. Or any actively involved in the fight against homophobia, for that matter. And, that we, we are only perpetuating the stereotype mentioned above.

It may not seem like a great think but… you know, childhood really does conditions the person we will become.

Now, the big question is, what are YOU waiting for!? Get their calendar RIGHT NOW!
And not just their calendar, you can get posters, films of the making of the calendar with hot footage (like really hot!), t-shirts…

Take a look at ‘The Story’ video:

Not convinced? Here is the Crowdfunding video for 2015 Calendar!

Laurence G Hulse

Laurence G Hulse

Also, don’t forget to follow both @naked_rowers @SportAllies on Twitter, and in Facebook and Instagram as well.

The guys have also Twitter and Instagram accounts, and they post pictures regularly (Laurence is a fav of one! 😛 He also has Instagram )

Unknown Passengers by Isaías Campbell

Depersonalisation and How Social Networks Aren’t That Bad After All

Whenever I read that some catastrophe occurred in a certain place and they give the number of deceased (specially if it’s a high number) I always think the same: Wow, that was quick.

It still strikes me how quick our language can be for events of such magnitude. We say ‘1 person’, and then ‘2 people’; but we can quickly change it for ‘1.000 people’. At that point, I am led to think that it isn’t ‘1.000 people’, it’s ‘1 person, plus 1 person, plus 1 person, plus…’.

Needless to say, depersonalisation isn’t something new. However, with the dramatic increase in population during the last century, the massive migration to big cities, the change to more busy lives, and the advent of technology, numbers represent us more than they have ever done.

Much of what I do has to do with introspection and insight — and I do like to wonder and ponder. Sometimes, when I walk on the street I like to look at people and become aware. I like to become aware that they are ‘1 person’.

What is he/she thinking about? What is his life like? What does she do for a living? Has he ever been heartbroken?
And also, Does he/she ever think about all this too?

Certainly, these questions are never answered. But that’s not the purpose or the intention of posing them in the first place. I just want, for a single moment, to humanise them, to let them become frugal characters of my own little universe.

Technology and social network

As I mentioned in a previous article about dating applications, the smartphones, tablets, and new ways of communication seem to have empowered this depersonalisation — or at least that’s what we read everywhere.

But, is that really true? Are new technologies and social networks setting us apart from each other.

Think about the example I talked about in the beginning of the article: people walking by. Most of the times we don’t know anything about them, and we will never have the chance to get to know them.

With social networks, one can easily hover on the name of the person that just posted a smart comment and know more about him/her, or even engage in a conversation.

This, of course, raises the privacy issue. But assuming that we would only make public on internet what we want to be known, isn’t it fantastic?
Even here, in WordPress.com, one can simply go to the Reader, find an interesting article that will lead him or her to the blog of a person, then read more articles and get to know more about the views of that individual.
Maybe he/she will read an interesting comment by someone, click on the name above it, and be led to his/her blog, and so on.

Suddenly, the anonymous person becomes personalised, related to interests, opinions, views. We may not meet all of them but, at least, we have the chance to engage in further conversation.

The addiction of attention

Another aspect that is often criticised about social networks and called my attention is the so-called ‘addiction’ to them and the psychological ‘quick’ rewards that they offer.

It is definitely true that we are starting to become dependant of technology, like we have become dependant of many other things (electricity, cars, a microwave, washing machines…). Maybe this particular kind of dependency is more noticeable because it directly influences our daily interactions.

However, the caricaturization that called my attention was Marc Maron‘s ‘The Social Media Generation’, which you may have seen around the net.

In the comic, Marc makes a direct similitude between a small kid calling for attention and our ‘calling for attention’ in social media, which leads to addiction. The curious part is that it start with ‘We’re adults, right?’.

That’s an easy question! Yes, we are.

But why would someone assume that, just because we are ‘adults’ we have stopped needing attention, or calling for it.
In fact, we need attention more than ever, probably because we are adults, because we don’t get that much attention anymore.

In today’s society it seems that it’s politically incorrect to imply that we are egocentric, that we do seek attention, and that many things that we do, including the most altruist ones, are (in some way) targeted to get that attention. We have been force to bury that in the deepest part of our subconscious.

But we still strive for gratitude, for acceptance and recognition. Of course, there are degrees. But, at least, we expect people to say thank you.
We are social animals, and even the most individual and altruist behaviours, like those aimed to self-realisation, are many times linked to social acceptance. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (or pyramid), self-realisation is at the very top, and some may separate it from the lower parts, like different categories. However, let’s remember that it’s a pyramid, and the top lies on the foundations, and it’s most of the times influenced by it.

Art, music, writing, helping others… Writing this entry is in many ways a ‘call for attention’. Likes, comments, follower are our ‘attention’.
Does this make us any less ‘adults’? What does being an ‘adult’ mean? Pretending that we don’t care what others think? Pretending that we don’t need a pat on the back or to be accepted?

Social Media has certainly make it quicker, and sometimes meaningless. Many times a ‘Like’ is a simple ‘I hear you’ and not an actual ‘I like it’. And there is also some truth in the fact that social media often becomes a place for an excessive attention-seeking attitude, but so does our physical daily interactions.

All that glistens is not gold

When using social networks, and in the process of ‘humanisation’ of the individuals, we often find a flaw — not everything that is shown is a reflection of what it’s behind.

I would like to use this fine short film by Shaun Higton as an example:

We tend to forget that social network are used in a myriad of ways. Not everybody give them the same use. Some people like to post trivial and positive stuff: travels, nice dinners out, party pictures.

Other go deeper, and post their personal thoughts — and many times regret it later.

Again, this isn’t something limited to social networks, we do that in our daily lives. I remember having a chat about this with a friend of mind that had just met a guy whose like was perfect. He felt really bad, and somehow inferior. I would have probably felt that way too!

The fact that we have more information about that individual give by him, shouldn’t refrain us from pondering about more. Even if that person is not a ‘person’ anymore, and has a name for us, that doesn’t mean that we know ‘the whole story’. We don’t have to. We don’t need to. We just have to be aware that there’s more.

We all have great day, and bad days. We all cry and listen to depressing songs remembering our ex. Each of us is different and unique, but the patterns are the same.

Despite all that, not everything in Social Networks is bad. As always, it’s a matter of measure and context. They can lead us to meet and engage with amazing people. Let’s just not forget to leave them aside for a moment when we are enjoying a nice coffee with them!
Image: Unknown Passengers by Isaías Campbell