Beautiful Stripes: Some things don’t change


  • Living
  • Wednesday, 06 Nov 2019

A file photo shows Adele onstage at the Brit Awards 2016 at the 02 Arena in London. Recently, the Internet was burning up with news of Adele's weight loss of almost 20kg. And while she is looking well, some of the back-handed compliments sounded more like insults. Photo: AP

Some places have already put up their Christmas decor. Before I get flooded with the season’s sentiments, here are some of my takeaways for this month.

In Malaysia, we constantly have to fight the mindset that the way a woman dresses is an excuse for rape. Some people take it upon themselves to police just how much cloth should cover the female body; while it sounds unreasonable, given our religious and cultural context, it is understandable.

However, it was startling to learn the culture of victim-blaming is still inherent in the West. A teacher from New South Wales, Australia, was recently called out for telling her students “all men have to fight their urges every day not to sexually assault or abuse women”, due to the way women dress.

And according to The Independent report, an exclusive survey revealed that a majority of British men think scantily clad women are more likely to experience sexual harassment.It just goes to show, no matter which part of the world we’re in, some things don’t change – women still have to fight to be respected and acknowledged. Not only daughters, but sons (and fathers) too, should be taught not to give in to negative gender stereotyping. The notion that a woman’s choice of clothing invites trouble makes about as much sense as opening an umbrella will invite rain.

You know what else hasn’t changed? The way society views fat people. The Internet was burning up with news of Adele’s weight loss of almost 20kg. And while she is looking well, some of the back-handed compliments sound more like insults.

To say “she looks so good now” implies there was something wrong with her before. People are calling it her “revenge-body” post divorce, and The Independent’s Adwoa Darko opines that this perpetuates “the idea that bigger bodies are not worthy of a fulfilling relationship”.

The writer adds: “It is an uncomfortable truth that, although packaged as support for the person’s health, in general these ‘compliments’ speak to the fact that our celebration of weight loss is not always about welfare. Society just cares that you’re slim, no matter how objectively harmful the journey was to get there.”

I adore Adele, and love her make-no-apologies attitude. She has always stood over and above the judgemental crowd as she is body-confident and doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of her. It took true grit to be where she is today, and regardless of whether she’s fat or thin, it is her singing that moves me, not her body shape. What she does – eat, drink, exercise, sleep – is really none of our business, and her weight loss is not “one up for thin people”, nor is it a personal slight to plus-sized humans.

By the way, just so you know, cyberbullying is considered a crime in Malaysia and that includes body-shaming. Under Section 233 (1)(b) Communication and Multimedia Act (Act 588), those found guilty are punishable by imprisonment of up to a year or fined up to RM50,000.

What is changing is the influencer market. A report in bbc.com detailed how fatigue is setting into Instagram. What started as a platform for photographers to showcase their pictures has evolved into the huge commercial tool that it is now.

However, market oversaturation, expensive influencer campaigns and fake content are taking its toll on the people who make money from sponsored content as brands are cutting them off. New York digital marketing expert Jasmine Sandler says it will be more about “fostering a greater sense of trust and credibility between brands and consumers”.

I made some good friends back when brands actually took the effort to connect with the media, and hopefully, the industry will move in that direction again.

What’s also different is the way we store our memories. Stand-up comedian Lachlan Patterson joked that “the new, old people” will be terrible 50 years from now. Last time, our grandparents would have nice stories to tell about the photos they took, for example, when grandfather bought his first car. In time to come, however, Patterson says people would just have pictures of selfies, cups of coffee and the odd pair of shoes or weather report to look back on.

It was hilarious, but it also struck a chord with me. My boys used to take out the old photo albums once in a blue moon to look at their baby pictures. Sure, we take lots of pictures now, but everything is stored in some Cloud or app somewhere, and we probably won’t bother to dig them out to reminisce about the past.This is also a note to self as well, to take more people pictures. I normally don’t like being photographed, and would rather take scenery or food pictures, but eventually, all that won’t matter as much as the people who touched our lives.

Change is good, and we need some disruption to force us out of our comfort zones to move forward, but sometimes I wish there was a middle road between that and not fixing what ain’t broke.

Change is inevitable, but growth is optional, said John Maxwell. Share your thoughts and write to StarLifestyle: lifestyle@thestar.com.my

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Fat-shaming , body-shaming , Adele

   

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