I find it gross and fascinating that there are people who are so disturbed by the way that celebrities look that they take the time to say something. Completely ignoring the School of If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything at All, they actually take the time to send a tweet, post a comment, or, in the case of this story, send an e-mail. I’m also always curious about what they think will happen, and what they want to happen. Do they want to make the celebrity feel terrible? Apologize for being a human with a body? Do they feel relieved that the celebrity might read their comments, feel ashamed, and change?
I’ve written about women who work at local television stations getting awful messages from viewers about their bodies: Nina Harrelson, a news anchor in Memphis, and Tracy Hinson, a meteorologist in St. Louis. Both of them wasted no time putting the body-shamers in their place. Sadly, another actor has had to fight back against this BS. Elizabeth Ries, a co-host of Twin Cities Live, which airs on ABC affiliate KTSP in Minneapolis, shared on Friday two very different e-mails that she received after an appearance at a home-and-garden show.
People recapped the text in the two images of the e-mails:
The first remark was positive: “This is a strange question but where did you get the jeans you had on today? They looked so great on you. I have a similar build as you and have been looking for skinny’s. I sure enjoy you and Steve!!!! 😊 Thank you – Julie,” read the first email, which Ries shared on Facebook.
The second, from “Maggie” as Ries called the viewer, was more critical: “Saw you on TCL at the home and garden show and I was so embarrassed for you. Either start working out or wear much longer shirts that cover your butt. You are definitely not a good example for fitness.”
Elizabeth had a very moving, powerful response. She posted the slideshow above with her photo and screenshots of the two emails and here’s what she wrote:
The vast majority of what people say to me has way more to do with them than is has anything to do with me.
Julie is saying, “Hey! I see myself in you! You are rocking that bod just like I want to rock mine! Will you share the love?” .
To which I’m more than happy to reply: “The jeans are by @hudsonjeans from @evereveofficial ! The style is Barbara. I’m wearing a 31 — you do you!” .
Maggie is saying, “I hate my body and I hate myself. And the only way to temporarily numb the pain of my own self-hatred is to lash out at you.” .
I’m confident enough in myself (I am more than my body!) and my body (strong, healthy, beautiful and birthed two children!) to not let her venomous words change how I look at myself. .
Regardless, the bite stings. And I speak out about it because IT IS NOT OKAY TO BODY SHAME PEOPLE. While I know that I will not spiral into depression, self harm or an eating disorder, countless studies show that fat shaming (especially of young girls) is DIRECTLY related to disordered eating. There is not a single study that shows that fat shaming leads to better health or fitness. .
This is not just an issue of Maggie not being nice with her words. These comments can very literally lead to the serious illness or death of those they are directed at. And if she has no problem saying it to me, who else is she saying it to?
We must name it, call it out when we see it and shout from the rooftops that body shaming will not be tolerated. Who’s with me?
Not going to lie: This whole thing made me cry. If I had seen the photo of Elizabeth, it wouldn’t have registered with me one way or another: “Oh, a news anchor. OK. Cool.” The idea that “Maggie” decided that Elizabeth had a big butt (and, if she did, so what?) and decided to take the time to send the e-mail made me sad and angry. I particularly love Elizabeth’s comments that body-shaming is both useless and potentially deadly:
She’s right. Who else is Maggie (and people like her) body-shaming? She’s not just wasting her time and energy calling out strangers. She’s probably making not-so-veiled comments to people in her life, or she has in the past. She has no idea how much damage she’s done. I still remember being body-shamed by a staff member at my school when I was 11. I remember what she said. I remember what I was wearing. I remember how I felt. Three decades later, it’s like this person told me that I needed to go on a diet only this morning. I hope Maggie feels bad, but even if she does and decides to never body-shame another person again, there are still countless people in the world like her who are waiting to say something, and there are probably loads of people still carrying around the pain of the things that Maggie has said to them.
As a side note, on Facebook, Elizabeth shared a clip of her friend, Jason Matheson, who is a TV host on another network. Jason went scorched-earth on Maggie and body-shaming.
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And that’s a wrap on the 2019 edition of 12 Days of Cookies on @twincitieslive! Such a fun year of baking with @diningwithalice, @bakersfieldflourandbread, @sarah_kieffer & @swedishcrownbakery! Can you believe this was the tenth year of the sweetest series we do on the show?! Thanks to all of the bakers who’ve participated over the years and to @bridgemansicecream for sponsoring such a delicious 12 days. See you next year! 🍪 👩🏼🍳 🎄 . . Also: the fun Nordic sweater is from @christopherandbanks ! 📷: @unserimagery