As a woman, I’m used to feeling insecure about my body. It really doesn’t matter what I weigh, there is always a little squishinesss here or there, and it’s hard to just accept myself for who I am. I’ve always been envious of men. How they can walk down the street and not feel like the whole world is judging them because of how their shirt hangs on their torso or how tight their jeans are?
But guys! Guess what! I have great news. We’re slowly working toward gender parity in this department. It looks like poking fun at a man’s weight is a thing!
Hmm… We might be moving in the wrong direction here.
Only those with the shortest of memories have forgotten that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s weight is fodder for late night talk show hosts, and his attempts to lose weight made international news. (Because, seriously, how could a fat person be president in the Internet Age?)
Now we can add Cory Booker to the list of men who have to deal with public fat-shaming, thanks to the New York Post:
Democrat Cory Booker, 44, is starting to resemble rotund Republican Gov. Chris Christie as he packs on the pounds while campaigning for the Senate seat vacated by the late Frank Lautenberg.
The formerly fit Newark mayor, who is leading his opponent in the race by 28 percentage points, has been chowing down on far too many funnel cakes at the Jersey Shore, where he waddled down the boardwalk last week with his shirt untucked and clinging to his chest.
Ugh. It’s an entire article about Booker’s weight. It not only offends me as someone who is struggling to be body-positive, but also as a consumer of news. Come on. What a snoozer of a story.
This is as gross and horrible as it would be if the article was written about a woman. It may even seem laughable to get up in arms about this kind of thing. It’s still true that women are more harshly judged on the basis of their appearance. Men have it easy. Right?
Not so fast. Men are subject to cultural forces, as well, even if those forces and how men are expected to deal with them manifest in different ways. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, of the 30 million Americans who will develop an eating disorder during their lifetime, 10 million of them will be men. Even though anorexia and bulimia are still thought of as only affecting women, it’s estimated that 10 to 15 percent of people with those disorders are men. The problem is even more pronounced in gay men. That rate is far less than women, it’s true, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. In addition, according to the American Psychological Association, binge eating disorder occurs almost equally in men and women and a quarter of preadolescent anorexia occur in boys. Women may be the primary suffers of eating disorders, but it is certainly prevalent among men and boys, as well.
I don’t mean to say that Cory Booker is going to develop an eating disorder because he’s getting fat-shamed by the press. It’s far more complicated than that. What I am saying is that this type of body-policing can’t be tolerated, regardless of whether the body in question is male, female or something in between.
Photo Credit: Bbsrock via Wikimedia Commons