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Todd Williamson

'Photos of Jennifer Aniston and Cindy Crawford highlights 'fat shaming' of women, when will it stop?'

“If we don’t cram ourselves into those claustrophobic standards of physical perfection, we’re called disgusting, but if we do, we’re weak and shallow.”

A FEW MONTHS ago ITV News anchor Charlene White shared what she claimed was an unretouched photo of supermodel Cindy Crawford.

Photographer John Russo later released a statement claiming that the photo had been stolen and doctored to make look Crawford look bad. So the now famously unretouched photos were retouched afterall – to make her look bad.

Fast forward to this morning and we have photos of Jennifer Aniston circulating with a “fuller face” reportedly after relaxing her pre-wedding diet while holidaying in Bora Bora. Still the photos show her out pavement pounding.

But perhaps instead of holding up celebrities for battling with their weight, we should begin celebrating celebrities who refuse to apologise for their bodies, and who embrace positive body image.

It won’t be easy, as most celebrities would rather be rewarded for being thin than celebrated for being comfortable in their own bodies, but one hopes that eventually, famous women will stop tearing themselves down, as all it does is make things that much harder for the rest of us.

‘Fat shaming’

How common is it for celebrities to get slammed for their weight? So much that it wasn’t surprising when TMZ posted a photo of bikini-clad Selena Gomez on a Mexican beach and wrote “things are getting thick down in Mexico.”

Or when Fox News host Chris Wallace said (and later apologised) that Kelly Clarkson “could stay off the deep-dish pizza for a little while.”

Capital FM Summertime Ball 2015 - London IIM-10440 IIM-10440

Or when Twitter trolls told Pink, dressed up to go to a gala honoring cancer survivors, that she looked fat in her dress.

The singer eschewed the glamour of the MTV Movie Awards and the star-studded festival Coachella to attend the John Wayne 30th Annual Odyssey Ball in Beverly Hills, where Dr. Maggie DiNome was honoured with the Duke Award for her tireless efforts and stellar contributions to the eradication of cancer.

Sadly, the focus from the media following her appearance was not on the eradication of cancer, but criticising her changing physique and her elegant black dress. While Pink admitted the dress she chose “didn’t photograph as well as it did in my kitchen,” she responded to the body-shaming articles and negative comments in one particularly poignant post.

People are so used to women’s bodies being up for discussion that they join in without a second thought as to how this could make the subject feel.

But thanks to the age of social media, celebs have that option — such as Pink shutting down her critics on Twitter, or Selena Gomez taking to Instagram to do the same. While it’s commonly accepted that ignoring the haters will make them go away, there’s more benefit for stars, more than anyone, to speak up: because it’s already psychologically harmful for everyday people to witness celebrities get fat-shamed, and striking back against the bullies can only help.

But actually, it does matter, doesn’t it? It matters because it hurts – not just you, but every woman who feels assaulted by the pressure to look a certain way. The recreational body-shaming of female celebs matters to a great many people are reminded, with a familiar chill, that whatever women and girls achieve, we are nothing if we do not conform to society’s demented definitions of beauty. We can’t win. If we don’t cram ourselves into those claustrophobic standards of physical perfection, we’re called disgusting, but if we do, we’re weak and shallow.

We need celebrities to change the culture. It’s sad but true – this is who we look up to as a society. If they’re not saying anything, a positive message is going to be a much harder and longer road. Luckily, certain stars don’t wait to fire back. Pink posted a long note to Twitter: “I am perfectly fine, perfectly happy and my healthy, voluptuous and crazy strong body is having some much deserved time off,” she wrote, adding “my hubby says ‘it’s just more to love baby.’ ”

What was unusual about these fat shaming incidents? That the stars fought back. Immediately. More of this please.

Lorraine Courtney is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @lorrainecath.

Read: Lambasting Kate over a few grey hairs isn’t harmless – it shows the pressure women face>

Read: “I was conflicted”: Cindy Crawford speaks out about THAT viral unretouched photo>

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