Leave Gemma Collins – and each other – alone.

I need to catch up on all of the goings on so far in this year’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! but as with most reality TV shows (this is pretty much the only one I actually watch), I probably don’t need to. Regular updates from viewers overwhelm every kind of social media possible. The only issue is, scrolling through the feeds (about 32 seconds was all I could manage without turning green) have, so far, quashed any kind of positive spirit I have. It seems that all anyone can talk about despite there being 10 celebrities in the jungle at the moment is TOWIE‘s Gemma Collins. More specifically, her body type and what certain individuals think is ”wrong” with it.


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Katie Hopkins – delightful human being so she is – took to Twitter to express these sentiments, among others. (No, I don’t follow her…)


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It makes me so… sad. Just when we think things are looking up – after reading this; Labeling Fashion Models “Plus-Size” Is Officially Over on Cosmopolitan‘s website I felt like I was elatedly skipping through fields of roses surrounded by Unicorns with an I-just-kissed-Jake-Gyllenhaal kind of grin on my face, but then, my eyes happened across someone calling Gemma Collins a ”whale”. Is this really where we are? We collectively call for more diversity and real life in the media industry – and then – we sit and call each other silly names behind a computer screen. Really?


From what I gather, Miss Collins has been, shall we say, an interesting character to watch in the jungle so far. Does this therefore warrant calling her a ”fat slut”? Does her dress size make her any less of a person? No. Ok, you may find her irritating. We all have our own bug-bears and what we ourselves find annoying, someone else will find hysterical. If you find her that unbearable, maybe you just shouldn’t watch it. Or put the magic of recorded programmes (if you’re lucky enough to be able to do it) to good use and fast forward through the bits she’s in. Surely that’s a better option than Tweeting her directly and telling her how ”fat” and ”ugly” she is – which, let’s face it, has zero relevancy to her personality. PEOPLE ARE NOT THEIR DRESS SIZE. Also, everyone is attracted to different things – which is perfectly OK. Contrary to ”popular belief”, every single one of us isn’t attracted to slim frames, taught buttocks, sky-scraper height and toned thighs. A human being’s body has so many distinguishing features it would be impossible to count them all. Funnily enough, humanity in fact finds those unique little details which we are bought-sold-and-manipulated into believing are ”imperfections” which make us less of a person – sexy. Life would be so bloomin’ DULL if we all looked the same. Where’s the fun in that?


What gives Katie Hopkins – or anyone else for that matter – the ”right” to judge someone solely based on their weight? Have we learned absolutely nothing in the last few years? Not only is ”fat shaming” ignorant of the fact that weight gain is linked to many health conditions none of which involve the words ”lazy” or ”slob”, a completely immature, spiteful and careless thing to do – just think how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the utter barrage of hateful comments Gemma has been receiving over the last few days (and probably sadly, has been for a long while) it’s also completely pointless. Calling someone out for ”being fat” (in your opinion) will NOT, I repeat NOT make them lose weight. You are in fact, probably going to contribute to them gaining weight. Studies such as the University College of London‘s this year, prove – conclusively – that discriminating against someone because of their weight is likely to make a person comfort eat and seek unhealthy, energy dense food. Has it really never occurred to anyone that eating disorders don’t just make a person lose weight? Are we unaware of binge eating disorder as well as emotional overeating disorder? Or do they just not exist? Why do we automatically (and of course, rightly) sympathise with someone who has obvious signs of an eating disorder like anorexia but just as automatically stigmatise, publicly shame and humiliate someone who could potentially have an eating disorder which affects the number on their scales in the opposite way? An eating disorder is an eating disorder regardless of how it affects a person’s body fat percentage. Who’s to say that being ”plus size” is unhealthy? Being healthy means different things for different people and doesn’t LOOK the same for everyone. How do we know that Miss Collins doesn’t exercise and eat more ”sensibly” than we do? We don’t.


Whether or not you personally find Gemma Collins attractive and/or blood boiling, how about trying this: Keeping our personal and ultimately biased opinions off of social media where we can potentially (and in this case definitely) hurt other people’s feelings. Why bother spreading poison when we can spread honey? I’ve found that venting positive energy about other people (this post kind of not included…) has a much better affect on my happiness as well as theirs. Take those negative thoughts and suppress them with a book. Or a film. Or a walk with your dog. Or a night out with your friends. Anything that makes you happy. After all, happiness is key and bringing others down is getting no one nowhere fast. Quite frankly, I couldn’t give a f*** whether people are a size 6, 14, 20 or anything else in between. As long as they’re healthy within themselves and are not putting other people down, that’s all I care about.


We need to stop giving in to the likes of OK! Magazine whose covers tell us every week that there’s yet another celebrity who is in the middle of some kind of ”body crisis” and that we MUST buy their publication as the latest diet-fad will stop us from falling into the same trap. We’re realising that the mainstream media industry has been full of nonsense (putting it politely) for a long time now but we are coming to this realisation slowly. Until we stop putting each other down and allowing this kind of thing to feed off of our generated-by-them-in-the-first-place-insecurities, we’re never going to win the war.


Our bodies are so much more than how they look.


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About Leyah Shanks

Positive body image activist and advocate for mental health.

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