Molly-Mae’s fat-shaming shows us we need a ‘new normal’ for female beauty standards
If Molly-Mae doesn’t fit the mould, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Love Island 2019 runner up Molly-Mae Hague has hit back on Twitter after being fat-shamed by trolls. Commenters on a Daily Mail article described her as “lardy” and “out of shape” – with one saying “my arse looks better than that and I’m rotund to say the least”.
Successful young women being torn to shreds by gammons in the MailOnline’s comment section isn’t surprising. Yet this one is particularly irritating because Molly-Mae’s body is pretty damn close to flawless.
What the commenters are taking issue with is that – god forbid – she has cellulite and a not-quite-flat stomach. But both of these things are completely natural. Girls have lower tummy fat to cushion your womb and other internal organs. Meanwhile, most girls do get some cellulite during puberty. Although weight gain and ageing may make it more noticeable, you can be any age or weight and have it. Cellulite also stores healthy fats and omega 3 for the eventuality that you get pregnant so you can provide these nutrients to a developing foetus.
One of the reasons why this type of fat-shaming is so dangerous is that it encourages girls to prioritise society’s beauty standards over the literal health and functionality of their bodies. This is also the reason why fat-shaming on account of ‘health’ reasons – i.e. stigmatising being overweight and obese in the hope it promotes a “healthy” weight – is completely misguided. You can’t comment on the state of someone’s physical health just by looking at them and making a judgement about how “fat” or “thin” you perceive them to be. Medically, it just doesn’t hold up.
Molly-Mae is thin and petite to begin with. If she is getting fat-shamed, there is absolutely no hope for the rest of us. When entering the villa, she was apparently a size four (which she admits made her “extremely underweight for her height”). She is now a size six but “feels far healthier“. This makes her considerably thinner than the vast majority of UK women. If we are fat-shaming Molly-Mae, then the ripple effect from this distorts how everyone else sees themselves and their bodies. Medically, this is known as body dysmorphia and is a known contributing factor to eating disorders like anorexia.
Who benefits from body-shaming?
I used to think that it was pretty, thin girls like Molly-Mae that benefitted from these unrealistic beauty standards. In reality, they too are scrutinised – by themselves and others – in pursuit of being perfect. But even once a woman gets within touching distance of obtaining the unobtainable, the goal posts move.
For example, in the 90s and 00s, the ultra-skinny generation of supermodels meant the ideal body image became known as “heroin chic”. But by the early 2010s, this had shifted to curves (specifically big bums) inspired by singers like Beyonce and Nicki Minaj and the rise of the Kardashian clan.
But what the scrutiny of Molly-Mae shows is that women in the public eye are walking a tightrope between these two conflicting images. They are supposed to be curvy but somehow have a flat stomach, have a big bum but have no cellulite, or have big boobs that are magically perky enough to defy gravity.
Even if a woman balances all of this, she gets thrown a curveball. The best illustration of this is the “armpit vagina”.
According to Hollywood stylist Rebecca Corbin-Murray, this is the little triangle of flab between your chest and arm. And apparently, Corbin-Murray’s clients (that include the perfectly gorgeous Lily James and Emma Watson) are terrified of being papped with one.
Yes, I know, stunningly beautiful Hollywood A-listers are terrified of showing an inch of flab.
The “new normal” for beauty standards
If society has set a mould for what “the perfect woman” should look like, and that mould doesn’t fit women as beautiful as Molly-Mae Hague, Lily James, or Emma Watson, I propose taking that mould and smashing it into a thousand pieces.
Lockdown caused most of us to have a several month long hiatus in our social lives. As such, between late March and mid May, any effort you put into your appearance was just for your own benefit. This ought to trigger a re-evaluation of how we see ourselves. If it’s good enough for me, myself and I, it should be good enough for everyone. Any time spent improving how you look should be seen as an investment in yourself rather than a way of conforming to an external image of how you should look.
Concepts like “the summer body” shouldn’t be cancelled just because (let’s face it) the summer itself has been effectively cancelled by Covid-19. We should cancel them because they are used to make us self-critical. They reinforce truly unobtainable ideas and can trigger unhealthy body image issues.
Always question who benefits from these standards. The answer (more often than not) is no one.
Featured image: @mollymaehague Instagram