“O” magazine fat-shames irony

Photo Credit: Phoebe Lim

The latest O by Oprah magazine has come under fire by feminist bloggers, after it published a fashion ‘Q and A’ article telling readers exactly who should wear crop tops, and even more importantly, who shouldn’t: the average person.

The magazine responded to the question of how to wear a crop top by stating you should wear one “if (and only if!) you have a flat stomach [. . .] For more coverage, layer the top over a longer shirt.”

Since this particular magazine has a readership older than the average university student, why does it matter to those our age? The magazine, whether it meant to or not, is perpetuating the negative ‘fashion rules’ that serve to keep women viewing their bodies as inadequate against the ‘norm.’ Regardless of what magazine it appeared in, this is an issue we should not take lightly, as fat-shaming happens within other magazines far too often as well.

Advice like this is not a new phenomenon, and unfortunately, it’s unlikely to go away anytime soon. Women are constantly shown unrealistic standards the media feels they need to aspire to, and as a result can suffer from any number of medical and mental health issues. Eating disorders are a common and dangerous result of these body-shaming images and expectations.

O Magazine perpetuates the negative ‘fashion rules’ that serve to keep women from viewing their bodies positively.

Articles like these perpetuate internalized shame and oppression. We stop ourselves from wearing and acting how we feel most comfortable and beautiful, because we suddenly see from these sources that we should not look or feel how we do. We punish ourselves, we restrict ourselves, and it can become a vicious cycle.

Magazines such as O by Oprah, led by someone who has openly spoken about her own body image struggles in the past, claim they exist to empower the 21st century woman. If this is so, they need to watch the words they use and make sure they are propelling women to self-worth and self-love, not the opposite.

Magazines must monitor the language they use more closely, and avoid fat-shaming women who do not have a “flat stomach.” They need to understand that all bodies are meant to be appreciated and dressed how they so choose, and there is no reason to ever shame someone into covering up just because your beauty standards are less inclusive than theirs.