Pop star Miley Cyrus made national headlines this week for a Tweet in which she and her friend Demi Lovato denied she was fat. If this doesn't seem newsworthy, just hold on.
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As one ABC News article stated, "Pop superstar Miley Cyrus has shown off her body in music videos and racy photos, but lately, the 18-year-old singer and actress has been on a weight rollercoaster. Her fuller figure has some critics saying she's lost control of her body."
A piece on Fox News added,
Miley Cyrus took to Twitter to defend her curvy shape after online critics criticized her for piling on the pounds.... Cyrus tweeted in response, posting a graphic picture of an emaciated woman suffering from an eating disorder to her 3.5 million Twitter followers. "I LOVE being shaped like a WOMAN & trust me ladies your man won't mind either," Cyrus added. Fellow Disney star Demi Lovato chimed in to offer her support to Cyrus. "I love you," Lovato told the former "Hannah Montana" star in a tweet. "Whoever called you that has it coming."
It is of course disheartening to hear that celebrities who put on a few pounds are being teased and harassed. But Lovato brings up an interesting question: Just who, exactly, commented on Cyrus's weight? Given the headlines this has generated (including a television segment on ABC News), you might assume it was a pop star rival, or a celebrity news reporter, or at least some famous blogger on an entertainment Web site.
Nope. It was an anonymous nobody, someone who goes by the Youtube handle of "kellybestinitup," who no one has ever heard of, and whose opinions no one cares about.
This has happened before; in 2009 ABC News writer Sheila Marikar noted,
It's been a bad week for high-waist jeans, leopard print belts and one Jessica Simpson. After Simpson performed at a Florida country radio station's chili cook-off Sunday clad in the aforementioned outfit and coming off a bit more curvy than usual, critics pulled out their claws to slam the once svelte singer-actress for her new, larger figure.... Women in Hollywood are also stepping up to the star's defense. "It's just ridiculous-another woman being body-bashed for the quote-unquote infraction of looking normal," plus-size supermodel Emme told ABCNews.com.
And just who were these critics body-bashing the "courageous" Jessica Simpson? One or two anonymous bloggers on a gossip web site.
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There's little doubt that fat bias exists, and of course it's unkind to make fun of anyone for their physical appearance. But in their rush to express their indignant outrage over comments about their weight, these celebrities and their defenders miss an important point: The insulting, attention-seeking bloggers who criticize celebs for a few extra pounds do not represent a national fat-hating media bias, nor the American public's opinion. No one took a poll of Americans and found that most think that Cyrus or Simpson needs to lose weight.
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The fact is that outside of the paparazzi-infested Hollywood bubble (the so-called "thirty-mile zone" from which the gossip TV show TMZ gets its name), most of us don't care. Americans are busy worrying about our own lives and couldn't care less if Miley Cyrus put on a few pounds or if Jessica Simpson looks good in a bikini. These nameless critics don't reflect anyone's opinions but their own, and by taking the bait and responding the stars just give their critics the attention they want.
It's not as if these "fat shaming" critics have any credibility or stature, or have opinions anyone listens to or cares about. The anonymity of the Internet is famous for helping generate mean-spirited discussions and name-calling, so no one should be surprised that out of the tens of thousands of bloggers who write about entertainment, pop culture, and celebrities, a few of them will try to generate Web traffic by saying something insulting.
Why in the world would an international superstar like Miley Cyrus even notice (much less care about or respond to) some random nasty comment or video posted by "kellybestinitup" that would have been completely ignored if she hadn't responded to it?
Publicity. By responding to insulting comments like these, celebrities generate benign controversy and sympathetic news headlines while scoring points for standing up against the Hollywood thin ideal. It's all showbiz.
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