On Monday, the Daily Mail shared photos allegedly of former Danity Kane member and reality TV personality Aubrey O’Day. The photos show a woman walking her dogs with a drink in her hand, and if the woman is O’Day, she appears to have gained weight since her last public appearance. Cue the fatphobic shitstorm.
After the photos were posted, O’Day responded on Twitter, claiming that the images were photoshopped, and sharing a photo of herself in a bodysuit, holding up a piece of paper with the words: “this is Aug. 31, 2020 9pm / I’m Aubrey O’Day / this is degrading!” In the text of her tweet, O’Day wrote: “it’s so sick what ppl will do for click bait! ... when is this industry going to stop abusing women’s bodies!” On Tuesday, Page Six reported that a source claims that despite O’Day’s response, the photos actually are not photoshopped. “She hasn’t done well throughout the pandemic,” the source told Page Six.
When people write pieces condemning body shaming, they tend to emphasize the fact that “other people’s bodies are not our business,” which is, of course, true, but also avoids directly naming fatphobia as the reason for this tabloid attention. This isn’t just generic celebrity body shaming, the reason people are remarking on these photos is specifically to express their awe and disgust at the fact that O’Day has potentially gained weight. It’s not just about her body potentially having changed, it’s about the fact that she could now potentially be fat, and therefore her body must be policed, shamed, and judged.
The entire internet came out to praise Adele and her body after her recent change in size, precisely because she got slimmer—in fact, every time a new photo of her is posted, it is quickly followed with articles praising her dramatic weight loss and discussing the diet and exercise regime she went on in order to change her body in these ways. Adele’s body is also being scrutinized, but unlike Aubrey O’Day, her weight change is being praised, despite the fact that we don’t know much more about the circumstances surrounding Adele’s weight change than we do about the circumstances around O’Day’s alleged weight gain. But, since Adele lost weight, it is assumed that was “good.”
The way that O’Day’s body is being scrutinized is cruel, inexcusable, and deeply fatphobic. There is a gross fascination with shaming people (and specifically women) who are in the public eye and who have gained weight in a way that makes people see them as less attractive or desirable. Fatness is viewed as reason enough to treat people as lazy, dumb, and literally less valuable than slimmer people. They’re not as popular as they once were, but let’s not forget there is still a whole genre of reality television dedicated to shows that profit off anti-fatness, often dedicated to showing the extreme (and often unhealthy) processes people go through to weigh less. These days, fatphobia is often dressed up in “wellness” language, but the underlying beliefs remain the same—fatness makes one less human and less deserving of kindness. The only way a fat person can earn our collective sympathy is if they are ashamed about their bodies and earnestly express the desire to change how they look.
Oh also—apparently some of you have forgotten, but we are living through a global pandemic in a country that seems to barely care whether we make it out alive, many of us have been deeply socially isolated for nearly six months now, and basically every person I know is about one stubbed toe from completely losing their shit. Our bodies have changed, are changing, and will continue to change. For some of us, those changes may not be welcome. But instead of jumping to make dramatic diet and exercise shifts, putting your body under even more stress and strain during this difficult time, consider instead changing how you think about your body.