Yes. This actually happened. In an effort to make us all believe that CBS Houston is run by a bunch of immature 14 year-olds, the station has asked readers to poll in and give their opinion on the size of a cheerleader's love handles. Kelsey, who's a dancer for the OKC Thunder Girls is fabulous and talented, but apparently that's not enough. Apparently, we can't just appreciate the fact that she can do one mean back flip and practice stunts that most of us wouldn't even dream of. We must first all give our personal opinion about where she stands on the BMI scale.
CBS Houston asked "Too chunky to cheer? Or just the right amount of jelly? (I'm loosely paraphrasing here, but not as loosely as you might hope.)," Morgan Shanahan from BlogHer says. "I'll say that again so you can fully absorb it: A MAJOR NEWS AFFILIATE HAS PUBLISHED A POLL ASKING READERS TO VOTE ON WHETHER OR NOT A WOMAN IS TOO FAT FOR HER CHOSEN PROFESSION. Unironically," Shanahan continued.
As if this story couldn't get any worse, Claire Crawford, the writer who took on this story of high importance, is now being criticized for her weight in the comment section. Well that's lovely. Let's express our outrage about a piece that degrades women by degrading the woman who wrote it. Why is the default always to deprecate women? Why is the default always to do it based on their appearance? Why can't Crawford be rightfully criticized without mention of her body? What does her body even have to do with this?
The CBS Houston news story exemplifies just how admissible it is to scrutinize female bodies. MissRepresentation makes a brilliant case for the need to address this problem by "challenging ... men and boys to take a second look at how they talk about women and women’s bodies — and the negative impact it is having on our world." When challenging our culture, we need to remember that it acts in pernicious ways. When women hear negative messages about their bodies, that don't only turn on themselves, they also turn against each other. They internalize body hatred, and in turn, start hating other women's bodies too. It's not innate. It's taught by a culture that loves to shame women.
It's time for us to examine the way women and men speak about female bodies. It's time we all take responsibility for the problem for us to collectively put an end to it.
For more on body image, follow me on Twitter: @feministabulous