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Discussions on celebrities' health, appearance can cross boundaries

While social media offers a platform for self-expression, communication and community, it often presents an idealized version of reality rather than a realistic representation of everyday life. It is easy for users to compare themselves to others, even if most social media posts are inaccurate portrayals of a person’s “normal” life. 

Social media users, especially celebrities, often curate their images to be the best version of themselves. Many social media platforms have tools for editing and filtering photos and videos. Celebrities and other users may use these features to enhance their appearance or manipulate content.

Between the rise of plastic surgery and the photo editing app Facetune, celebrities often knowingly or unknowingly create unrealistic standards their followers compare themselves to. Many users have developed a fixation on looks, often commenting on a public figure’s appearance because their lives are so readily accessible via social media. 

Commenting on a celebrity's appearance may cross boundaries, particularly if the comments are disrespectful, invasive or judgmental. While it may seem harmless to some, these comments can be hurtful, contribute to body shaming and perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards. 

Comments about celebrities' weight, particularly for women, are often riddled with criticism.

For example, pop singer Lizzo is constantly criticized for her weight. Lizzo is known for being a “plus-sized icon,” as she is one of the music industry’s few representations of her body type. While she is often praised for her body positivity, she continues being body-shamed on the internet. 

Twitter user Laya Heilpern said, “How is Lizzo still THIS fat when she’s constantly moving this much on stage?! I wonder what she must be eating.”

Although she usually ignores these comments, Lizzo clapped back with a reply on Twitter.

“I JUST logged on and the app and this is the type of s--- I see about me on a daily basis,” Lizzo said.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, celebrities like Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner are often criticized for being “too skinny.” Ultimately, some internet users comment on celebrities’ bodies no matter what size they are.

A change in a celebrity’s appearance often makes the news, whether it is an alleged plastic surgery, weight loss, weight gain or a new hairstyle. Sometimes this type of commentary can cross a line, especially when a public figure’s health is in question.

Recently, Kate Middleton has been in the news after not being publicly seen for months because of abdominal surgery in January. After pictures issued by Kensington Palace featuring Middleton and her family appeared to be digitally altered, rumors surrounding her well-being flooded the internet.

These conspiracy theories took over social media. Some users thought she was missing, underwent other surgeries or died. Middleton eventually posted a video explaining she was battling cancer and wanted privacy while she came to terms with her diagnosis. 

Another example of this type of intrusion into a celebrity's life is Scott Disick, who was recently in the news for his sudden weight loss. Pictures of Disick featured him looking frail and much thinner than usual, with sunglasses covering his face. The rumor mill buzzed about Disick having an “Ozempic face” or being on drugs.

Actor Chadwick Boseman was also commented on before he passed away in 2020. Boseman posted a video to Instagram, where he spoke about the #Operation42 social media initiative, and was noticeably thinner than usual. While some were generally concerned for his health, others made jokes and memes about his appearance.

Shortly after, Boseman’s family released a statement on Twitter stating the actor died from colon cancer. After Boseman passed, a fan, Haley Ruth Spencer, made a Facebook post highlighting the ignorance of the Instagram post’s comments.

“I remember people taking it upon themselves to make jokes, tweets, memes, etc. about the change in his appearance,” Spencer said. “They called him ‘crack panther.’ And now we all know he changed because he was dying of colon cancer. I saw all of this as a reminder to please not comment on people’s bodies, especially changes in their weight.”

Boseman’s death sparked some conversation about the public’s commentary on the appearances of public figures, but it barely made a difference. The public continues to make comments about the appearances of celebrities like Middleton, Lizzo and Disick.

Social media users persist in casting judgment on celebrities’ bodies, regardless of the boundaries they are crossing. 


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