Proud2Bme | 3 Ways to Hold Body Shamers Accountable on Social Media

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3 Ways to Hold Body Shamers Accountable on Social Media

By Dana Land--When someone does something wrong in the eyes of the social media world, judgment is handed down swiftly and with little regard for the parties involved. Oftentimes, the judgment and actions are anything but just.

Recently, a comedian came under fire after harassing, fat shaming and degrading a woman who politely turned down his invitation for a date. His actions went viral and he received threats and harassment. His reaction was to question if he or the woman was the real victim.

Harassing anyone is unkind and ineffective. Harassment does not guarantee that someone will learn a lesson or repent for their actions. It may make them defensive and force an apology that they do not mean. It does not take back the actions they did to cause the public outcry towards them. This is true for the entirety of the gender spectrum. Harassment will not solve or fix the problem.

Related: How Does Social Media Affect Your Body Image?

Entertainers, small-time or celebrity, are in positions of power. They have followings. Therefore, when they abuse their power, they are brought down harshly. However, the collective of social media users is in a position of power as well, possibly even more so than any celebrity. And sometimes, they can abuse their power as well. Harassment is a form of abuse, no matter who you do it to and whether or not they “deserve it.”

So is there a better way? How can you hold someone accountable for their online abuse when the perpetrator isn’t within your immediate surroundings?

1. Report it

If someone is frequently tweeting/Facebooking/etc. harassing messages, you have the option to report them and have the messages taken down. This will not show the perpetrator the error of their ways, but it’s often a quick fix until a larger solution can be found. If the harassment is life-threatening, reporting it can even mean telling an authority or police officer.

2. Talk to them yourself

If someone is putting you down via social media, you have the option to effectively inform them of their negative behavior, why it hurts and the consequences that may come of it. This may give the person the chance to reform and apologize. If they do not, you can then move on to another step knowing that you tried to be civil. This option may not always be safe if the person is using violent threats or if you feel unsafe confronting them.

Related: 4 Social Media Tags to Avoid in 2016

3.  Ask for help

If the person continues to harass or put you or another person down, and the social media admins cannot or will not remove or ban the person, asking for outside help can be vital. This does not mean posting the comments online in hopes of making it go “viral” will be effective. This means asking for close friends to step in, and allowing them to refute the harassment. It may discourage the harasser. If someone else sees it, you cannot control whether or not it goes viral, but you will know that you did not aid in harassment or sink to their level.

Social media can be an uncontrollable beast. Public shaming on social media is much like when someone would be locked up in medieval stocks for the people to throw tomatoes at. We laugh at the idea of that ever happening, and we would never want to implement that into the legal system again, yet we condone it on social media because we think, “they deserve it.”

Groupthink can be dangerous, and sometimes we need to take a step back and think how this will reflect on ourselves. Are we part of the problem? Then make informed actions from there to stop the cycle of public abuse.

About the blogger: Dana Land is a senior at DePaul University. She's an eating disorder survivor and advocate. She writes for Proud2Bme, is a support person for ANAD, gives recovery speeches and has been interviewed by Healthgrades.com. In her free time, she likes to practice and perform burlesque and try new mindfulness techniques.

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