How To Be Bold for Change and Stop Shaming

In just two short days International Women’s Day will be upon us. When I observed the campaign theme for this year, #BeBoldForChange, I started wondering. Just what does it mean to be bold?

We live in a world teeming with of sexism and bigotry, yes, but we also live in a time and place where these prejudices are being combated. From celebrities to Joe Schmoes, everyone is speaking their minds.

A few weekends ago my husband and I watched a comedy special on Netflix in which the male comedian joked about the bravery of plus-sized women. He mentioned how some of these overweight models and actresses pose for the covers of magazines and after doing so, people attribute them with bravery. He claimed using the term “brave” for these women was an overreach, though. He goes on to say,

I know you’re not supposed to make fun of fat people. I don’t know why though.

A quick Google search could have quelled his uncertainty. In fact, if you type in “why you shouldn’t make fun of people”, page after page of results will load with the reasons why you shouldn’t tease not only overweight people, but people with autism, acne, people who dance for a living, it even brought up an article about not making fun of people who make fun of you. So really, if you took the word “fat” out of this comedian’s sentence, it could stand on it’s own.

Fat-shaming

I don’t think we need to go into why it’s not okay to make fun of others. Teasing aside, do you think an an overweight woman, famous or not, should be credited as bold for taking pride in her body?

I have to agree with author Summer Innanen, author of the Huffington Post article, Is It Brave for a Woman to Like Her Body? In it she writes,

I realize now that we cannot leap to the normalization of diversity and size acceptance without first encouraging women to take their power back. And until we reach that point, it will be considered a courageous act for women to embrace their individuality and showcase their acceptance..

So if we need to proclaim these moments as brave to encourage more women to like their bodies, then so be it.

I fully support women using this avenue to #BeBoldForChange until there is, hopefully, no longer a need.

Remember though, it’s not only plus-sized women dealing with criticism for their boldness.

Armpit-shaming?

Remember Lola Kirke at the Golden Globes back in January? If her name doesn’t ring a bell, this description might – she is the actress that didn’t shave her armpits. Yeah, that’s her.

It’s hard to imagine a little bit of hair causing such controversy but some people even went so far as to send Kirke death threats in response to her unshaven underarms. Seriously.

A number of people found themselves so distracted by her body hair that they missed the real message she was sending. One that came in the form of an expletive on a pink pin positioned at the top of her evening gown.

Kirke, angered at Paul Ryan for potentially defunding Planned Parenthood, attempted to make a silent statement during a nationally televised event. Instead, everyone was busy staring at her pits.

Childfree-shaming

Childfree women are not just shamed for their life choices, which would be (more than) bad enough, but they’re also shamed for their bodies.

I came across this picture on Instagram with a caption that read, in part, “#teamnokids”

Now I am a bit of a grammar fanatic but I am willing to put all that aside. I can not, however, put aside the shaming.

Essentially this person is saying the only women who have a right to be anything less than perfect are mothers. How’s that?

There are a number of reasons why this type of shaming is especially harmful and just flat out unacceptable but just who is shaming childfree women in this way?

At the onset of this post, I told you the comedian was a man. But what if he wasn’t? What if this was a woman making fun of other women? Well, childless and childfree women are most often shamed by mothers. I firmly believe this statistic should, and can, change.

How?

The next time you hear someone shaming someone else, refuse to acknowledge it or, even better, speak up for the person being shamed. When we prove unwilling to participate in hateful speech, we stop perpetuating negativity. 

If you want to take a more proactive stand for women, go out of your way and do something good for your fellow woman this week.

Here’s one of my favorite ideas to get you started in spreading positivity to women worldwide:

Sponsor a woman from one of eight countries torn apart by war and conflict. You can help her learn a valuable skill, discover her legal rights, access knowledge about health and nutrition, and aid her to #BeBoldForChange.

Tell me, how are you going to be bold for change this month?

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  1. Reply

    Hi I tried to post this a while agao but it wouldn’t submit – hopefully it will now! I love your message about speaking up for the person being shamed – I spend a lot of time wailing pointlessly (usually about parents, childfree and childless groups) “How can this ever change? Will we ever see eye-to-eye on anything?”. But if we all stand up for any person who is shamed or sidelined, always, then things might get moving and change! The message will permeate the culture if we say it enough (we hope). That Instagram picture is heinous – there’s a lot of hatred in that: “OK so you’re childfree and you think that’s so great, why are you fat then?”. God, where to start on something like that (and bleurgh re the crimes against grammar; I hate that “be like” thing!). International Women’s Day feels bittersweet here in Ireland where they’ve just found 100s of babies’ remains in a sewage tank in Tuam whilst half the country is still unable to utter the word “abortion”. But then that’s why we need it, of course.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I stumbled across that Instagram post! I really hope if we take a stand against shaming it will lose its power.

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