Recently, a woman (Kang) posted the above picture on Facebook. Subsequently it stirred up quite a bit of controversy. This photograph–along with the controversy surrounding it–fits in well with our discussions of women judging other women.
The reason this picture has been so controversial is because it implies that if this mother of three can be perfectly in shape, so can everyone else. It suggests that all people should be fit in the way she is, and if people aren’t it is their fault. It shames people into wanting to look like her, and potentially act on it in some way (positively or negatively). Obviously, Kang is judging people who are aren’t fit in the way she is. She presents her fitness as a standard that all people can and should strive for. Because the viewer is intended to compare their own body to Kang’s, one can see the message more directly addressing women, and subsequently passing the most judgement on women.
However, I find women’s responses to Kang’s photo more complex and interesting. You can see some of them in this article. Some women have responded to the photo by calling out her judgement or addressing specific reasons why people might not be able to achieve her standard, or might not even want to achieve it. However, some women have responded by reciprocating the judgement. One woman stated:
If you really cared to promote health you wouldn’t need to be half naked. You can show health by being dressed. The fact you chose attire such as this is that you were promoting appearance.
And the judgement doesn’t stop there. Other women have responded with judgement to the responses. One said:
No need to apologize to the fat slobs out there who don’t know how to put down their forks or spoons and get some exercise.
It’s fascinating how frequently women get caught in a spiral of judging one another. How do we stop this cycle?