Entertainment August 6, 2018
People are really mad.
“You need to see a doctor.”
“Share your secret!”
“This is not okay.”
“For all the people that keep saying ‘you need to eat’ why don’t you just GET A LIFE.”
Welcome to Lauren Bushnell’s Instagram! A not-so-happy place where people argue about how thin she is.
Who is Lauren Bushnell you ask? For the uninitiated Bushnell won the 20th season of “The Bachelor” (her engagement to Ben Higgins didn’t work out) and she’s now fashioned herself into an Instagram influencer with over 1.2 million followers. Also, she’s very thin.
That’s really all the backstory you need. As an influencer, the 28-year-old posts about her outfits, her workouts, her Coachella trips and pool days in Pinterest-worthy snaps with perfectly curated color-schemes. This, of course, has opened her up to internet comments — and something crazy is happening in her comment section.
There are only two types of commentators in Bushnell’s IG, those who love her and praise her waif-like figure — and those who hate her, choosing to berate her with insults like “eat a meal” and “see a doctor.” The haters, it seems, only come to gawk at her thinness, while her fans have taken it upon themselves to defend her at every turn.
The back-and-forth, however, isn’t just about Bushnell. It’s indicative of a broader, yet somewhat contradictory debate around female body-image in American culture. Namely, is it dangerous to promote an extreme level of thinness? And, is it okay to skinny-shame someone?
There’s no question, many of Bushnell’s commentators are there to do just that and they know it. In one post, in which Bushnell was promoting a wine, a person actually said: “Surprised all the top comments are actually about the wine.”
That’s because visitors to Bushnell’s Instagram know what they’re getting. A battleground. A place to take out all their frustration with the pressure to be thin on a very skinny girl who is doing nothing more than seemingly #ExistingWhileThin.
Bushnell herself has addressed the haters before saying “this is how God made me, bye.”
And Bushnell’s fans are quick to defend her as well, telling people to leave the page, get a life, or equating skinny-shaming with fat-shaming. As if they were the same.
Let me be clear, while skinny-shaming shouldn’t be tolerated, the two are not the same. As a culture we promote and congratulate people on being thin, which means when you “shame” someone for their size-zero physique there is always an element of “Me … Too skinny? Gee, thanks!” behind it. A feeling overweight people simply do not get to experience.
When an overweight person is being shamed, they are not also being asked for their “secrets” in the same sentence. They’re being told to hide away.
For example, Bushnell has to deal with a plethora of insults in her comment section but she’s also asked for her tricks and “secrets to no cellulite.” She is applauded for her abs, her short-shorts, and her “bod”. So much so, she even started posting all her workouts because her fans wanted it.
Which begs the question, is it unhealthy (as her haters argue) to promote this lifestyle?
On the one hand, Bushnell could simply be a very skinny woman — as she has stated. Who are we to judge?
On the other hand, she often shills beauty and health goods on her IG like Fab, Fit, Fun boxes, skincare routines, beauty products, makeup, swimsuits and wine just to name a few. As if to say, “buy this and look like me!”
But most women can’t look like her, in her words, it’s how “God” made her. Not a workout, or a food routine, or a fit box. It’s her genetics.
This is where “influencing” can become problematic. Unlike a model, who is clearly selling a brand, Bushnell is selling a lifestyle — her lifestyle — that is unattainable for most women. And her value, her brand, is predicated on the fact that she’s very, very thin.
Or, more specifically, that she can allegedly day-drink copious amounts of rosé, eat tacos, and stay thin. Every girl’s dream right? *sigh*.
On the surface, there’s nothing explicitly wrong with that. In this age of female empowerment, we should be supporting her to live her best life, right?
But, I do have to wonder, is it dangerous? When you have a platform of 1.2 million people do you have a responsibility to promote yourself responsibly?
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After all, there are plenty of studies on how glorifying thinness in the media affects body image and mental health in young women. Indeed, one study found that looking at photos of thin women for just 15 minutes can change our perception of “ideal body image.”
As the researchers explained: “Media consumption is associated with a drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and disordered eating in women of western and/or industrialized societies.” Not so good.
But this danger isn’t solely due to Bushnell, we could say the same about the Kardashians or any other beauty and wellness influencer on Instagram. So why attack Bushnell with such vigor?
While most influencers get haters in their comment section, this all-out war isn’t seen quite as much.
Indeed, it’s difficult to find a single post on Bushnell’s IG that isn’t a raging debate between fans and haters. Dozens of “she’s too thin, this is unhealthy” are followed by an equal number of “I love you, tell me how to be you” comments.
Yes, there’s something specifically about Bushnell’s thinness that bothers people and that’s not okay.
If you really hate her that much, just don’t click.
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