Is there anything more enviable than the ability to not give a f--k?
Oh, to be someone who lets criticism just roll off her back, who laughs in the face of other people's nonsense, to be able to automatically conclude that the meanness says way more about the person dishing it out than it does the person on the receiving end. And not to just know that as a matter of logic, but to really feel it.
As it turns out, however, if there's a rare bird out there, it's the person who truly gives zero f--ks. And if there's one kind of slight they don't care about at all, chances are they care deeply about another kind.
We all wish we didn't care what other people thought about us, about our personalities or our looks. In fact, it can feel like a weakness to care, to be affected by criticism—especially when it comes from a stranger (or not even just a stranger, but an egg-shaped silhouette going by the name of "deeznuts").
So when celebrities of the wow-she's-got-it-all variety open up about their insecurities, and just how much a few crass words can hurt, even when they know better... That helps.
Selena Gomez recently revealed that body shamers came for her when they noticed changes in her weight, a side effect of medications she was taking as part of her ongoing battle with lupus. And while the many people instantly outraged on her behalf snapped to attention within minutes once this news was out there, that didn't change the feelings the singer had when she experienced that criticism in the moment.
As her weight fluctuated, "that's when I really started noticing more of the body image stuff," Gomez said on the vodcast Giving Back Generation. How much she weighs "depends on even the month, to be honest," she added, "so for me I really noticed when people started attacking me for that. And in reality, that's just my truth."
"That got to me big time, you know?" Gomez said. "I think for me...that really messed me up for a bit."
We reiterate, for what feels like the umpteenth time: What is wrong with people?!
In 2015, Gomez, 23 at the time and about to release her album Revival, featuring her posing shirtless on the cover, said that she had gained a little weight recently and, while it hadn't bothered her, there were some who couldn't help but offer their 2 cents.
"You have to understand that I dealt with a lot of body shaming this year and I've never experienced that before," she said on Power 106's The Cruz Show back then. "I don't care about that stuff, but I did start gaining weight, and I didn't really mind it... Man, that hurt. That was really hurtful. Because I've experienced people who have tried to control that kind of stuff before, and I didn't care. This is my time."
But we know what Gomez has been through since, the breaks she's been compelled to heal, her speech at the 2016 American Music Awards in which she revealed she had previously felt "completely broken."
Fast-forward to 2019. "I'm happy with living my life being in the present," she said on Giving Back Generation. "Because that's it. Similar to me posting a photo and then walking away. For me, that's it."
Aside from the nagging fact that Gomez is gorgeous, whether in a gown or in sweats grabbing coffee, who in their right mind thinks it's a good idea to make someone else's appearance their business-from-afar on social media?
Unless, of course, they're using their freedom of speech to lift someone up, which you'd think would be so much easier... being nice as opposed to being a failed comedian or a successful jerk. Even the questions or comments that may have a spark of good intention behind them, such as "Oh, is the medication making you gain weight?" or "Wow, you look great, you've lost tons of weight!" or the old chestnut "When are you due?" are best left locked up in the thought box, never to be released. (Paying attention to your loved ones' health and looking for signs of something amiss is a whole other thing, obviously.)
Anyway, there are endless kinds of insults that can get to us, but achieving (and maintaining) a healthy body image remains a struggle for so many—including the women and men whose skin you'd think would be made of leather by now, what with all the trolling almost anyone with a certain amount of visibility has to deal with.
But Gomez acknowledged that the body scrutiny contributed to her decision to take a break from social media last year, and now that she's back, she does her best to avoid checking in with the peanut gallery.
There are "so many beautiful girls and amazing different characters" being "demolished by an image that they're trying to chase," she said. "But I get it, I look at other people's pages—or I used to—and I'd be like, 'Okay, I need to fix myself.'"
And so count Gomez, who has been active over the years in human rights and anti-bullying causes, among those trying to use her platform for good—in part because she knows what it feels like to be targeted by those who insist on using their social media account to poke fun, belittle or judge.
But even just the decision to share that, yes, that crap does get to her, too, is endlessly helpful, because there are fewer things less productive in life than getting 30 compliments and then fixating on the one insult.
The scourge that is body-shaming runs every which way but true, from pregnant women who are either gaining too much weight or, on the flip side, look suspiciously thin, to itsy-bitsy models either told to eat a burger or slammed for expanding into a size 2. And then there are the countless ladies and gentlemen who are just trying to exist in the shape that genetics have given them.
"The Internet bullies are awful," Ariel Winter told Glamour.com in 2015. "I could post a photo where I feel good, and 500 people will comment about how fat I am, and that I am disgusting. On [red carpets], I just said to myself, 'You have to do your best to look confident and stand up tall, and make yourself look as good as you can in these photos,' because everyone is going to see them."
Winter was 17 in 2015. Meaning, people were piling on a kid about her weight, perhaps rationalizing their behavior (if they thought about it at all) with the excuse that she's a celebrity, and therefore fair game.
It's all icky, and being part of a very crowded club won't necessarily stop a person from internalizing those comments if left to her own devices.
Riverdale co-stars Camila Mendes and Lili Reinhart are among those who have spoken up on numerous occasions about their own struggles with body image and the importance of having open and honest conversations about the very real issues and unreal expectations young people are facing, not least because social media is creating an alternate-universe picture of unobtainable perfection.
Both have slammed egregious or heavy-handed Photoshopping, and just this week Reinhart called out BodyTune, an app through which you can, as the description in the App Store promises, get a "perfect waist" or "increase height" in your photos.
"The app everyone is secretly using," it says.
Good to know, at least, in case you were wondering when all of your friends started finding the time to work out four hours a day.
"This is not okay," Reinhart posted to Instagram Story. "This is why people develop eating disorders. This is why social media has become hazardous to our health. This is why people have unrealistic expectations of their bodies."
Last year the Hustlers actress acknowledged feeling "really disheartened" by certain comments made about her figure. And not only that, apparently some people couldn't stomach her honesty about feeling disheartened.
"I will never understand how someone can be so cowardly as to hide behind their phone and tell a stranger that their feelings are irrelevant and considered 'whining,' just because they think you represent some ideal figure or shape," she tweeted. "Telling someone they don't deserve to feel insecure because their body is 'fine' or 'just like' whomever.. is wrong. That's part of the problem. That's part of body shaming."
It's also honesty-shaming, and if there's one thing we need more of in this world, it's people treating each other as the flesh-and-blood human beings that they are as opposed to just images or words on a screen.
And human beings are full of feelings, some good, some bad, and many that can be detrimental to one's self. (If someone else's feelings exhaust you, maybe close your browser.)
Meanwhile, even if you know better, and if you're safely assuming that it's the bullies who have the problem, that doesn't necessarily change the way you feel.
And that's where the likes of Selena Gomez or Lili Reinhart, or Gigi Hadid as a wise 22-year-old telling her 19-year-old self not to sweat the haters, may be able to help the most, by explaining in no uncertain terms how bad they too have felt when the trolls attack.
"I won't buy into the bulls--t today!!!!" Camila Cabello wrote this summer after coming across a headline about unflattering pictures of herself that at first admittedly made her feel "super insecure." After letting her mind go there for a minute, she reminded her fans that un-retouched normal is what's beautiful.
Allowing one's self to be vulnerable in public, to admit to the fact that you're simply not OK all the time, does take strength, especially when you can immediately file most of the feedback under "what do you have to feel bad about?"
Forgiving one's self for being human is another thing that takes real intestinal fortitude, because in addition to nitpicking our own bodies, it's also been ingrained in us (these last few decades, anyway) that we shouldn't care what other people think. Moreover, we're told that to give someone the time of day by responding or otherwise defending yourself means you're legitimizing someone's mean-spirited comment.
But why should bullies be allowed to get away with being jerks, even if responding does acknowledge that an insult took place and maybe even hurt your feelings? Let's just say, no matter how you choose to respond, or not respond, you're not alone in agonizing over whether you should respond—or why you care what deeznuts wrote in the first place.
"Dear sorry body-shamers, I looked HOT in that dress," Ariel Winter clapped back at critics of the outfit she wore for her graduation party in 2016. "And if you hate it, don't buy it. But please get a hobby. XOXO Ariel #EmbraceYourBody." She added, "Embrace all that you are. Don't let those outside voices become your inner voice #mychoice #loveyourcurves."
No words, or getting the last word, we're here for it.
But as all of the aforementioned ladies have proven, looking a certain way—perhaps, even, like some industry-sanctioned ideal—barely factors into the thoughts that can end up roiling a person's insides.
This doesn't only happen to women, either. They may just be more vocal about how much of an issue it is, in their industry and society in general.
"I remember doing one job when they literally made me pull my shirt up and were grabbing my fat and going, 'You need to lose a bit of weight,'" Sam Claflin told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2017. "This other time they were slapping me. I felt like a piece of meat."
He added, "I read in an interview [about male body shaming] recently and I think it's absolutely true: men have it just as bad. Well, not just as bad but they get it bad and it's never talked about." As for himself, Claflin admitted, "I get really worked up to the point where I spend hours and hours in the gym and not eating for weeks to achieve what I think they're going for."
His comments subsequently went viral.
"The fact that it's trending is kind of sad to me because it's obviously been going on for years and years," the Hunger Games actor told E! News soon after. "I'm not the first person to say, 'I, as a man, am insecure.'"
Not the first, but genuine pronouncements of insecurity—from famous men, about their appearance—aren't often the order of the day.
"Women have been going through this for centuries and men have, too. It's often not talked about," Claflin said. "I think it's interesting and it should be talked about more, obviously."
Celebrities can only speak for themselves when it comes to what it's like to have to shoot a scene 40 times for David Fincher, or about how they tame pre-concert nerves, or how much it sucks to be trailed by paparazzi. But when it comes to the detrimental effects of all this concern about what we look like, and about what other people think of our looks—they speak for a lot of us.
Social media isn't going anywhere, so if we choose to be on it, we can do what Selena Gomez does: post a photo and walk away. But if everyone could try, even if for just one day, not to pass judgment on anyone's body, starting with their own, and then try to make a week out of it, and then maybe a month... well, wouldn't that be something?