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Body Shaming on Social Media

In early November, Dani Mathers was charged with one misdemeanor count of invasion of privacy for taking a picture of a naked 70-year-old woman at her gym.

No one would have probably known about the secret photo, except the former Playboy Playmate posted the image on her Snapchat account.

“If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either,” the 29-year-old Mathers wrote over the image that she sent out on social media this past summer.

The post went viral.

A few months later Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer decided to file criminal charges.

It’s an unusual move, according to legal experts. Feuer was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying the charges were necessary in order to send a message.

“Body shaming is humiliating, with often painful, long-term consequences,” he said. “It mocks and stigmatizes its victims, tearing down self-respect and perpetuating the harmful idea that our unique physical appearances should be compared to air-brushed notions of ‘perfect.’ What really matters is our character and humanity. While body shaming, in itself, is not a crime, there are circumstances in which invading one’s privacy to accomplish it can be. And we shouldn’t tolerate that.”

Mathers has since apologized for the incident. She is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 28. If found guilty she could face up to six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

Not a new thing

Body shaming is not a new phenomenon for women.

Look no further than comments made by our current president-elect.

Republican Donald Trump is on record making derogatory remarks about women and their looks. It wasn’t just during the election. Throughout much of his public life Trump has expressed disdain for women solely based on their physical appearances.

For decades the media has pushed unrealistic images of how the female body should look. This includes movies, television, and print.

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In recent years, social media has taken body shaming to a new level.

A handful of companies and celebrities are working to change the narrative around what are acceptable standards of the female body.

It’s a small but growing group, according to advocates of women’s health.

A difficult challenge

Despite the growing support, women’s health advocates say body shaming is going to be difficult to fight.

There is an established notion, they say, that a thin, “conventionally pretty” woman is what all women should strive toward — and that anything outside that realm isn’t valued or worthy.

“We have to break through the model that insecurity sells,” Claire Mysko, chief executive officer of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), told Healthline.

She said tabloid magazines are big proponents of the body shaming machine. Publishing photos of celebrities that highlight and mock their cellulite through blown-up imagery is one example.

“We are learning the language [of body shaming] from this mass media culture,” she said.

Television doesn’t fare much better, according to…

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