The outrage over Jim Carrey’s tweet is sparking a debate about body-shaming.
Jim Carrey, a blockbuster actor known for being both hilariously weird and emotionally effective on-screen, doesn’t make many movies anymore. These days, he’s more interested in making art.
And he hasn’t exactly been quiet about politics, either. On March 17, 2018, Carrey posted a controversial tweet with a grotesque drawing of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, accompanied by the word “monstrous.”
“This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!” Carrey wrote to his nearly 18 million Twitter followers.
In response, Fox News and several other conservative media outlets are framing Carrey’s comments and portrait of Sanders as “disgraceful” and “terrifying.” They’ve also called the tweet “body-shaming” and “bullying.”
Body-shaming and bullying are serious issues. But is that really what’s going on here?
The reality is, we’re all insecure about our appearances to varying degrees and unrealistic expectations from the media, sexism, and bullying have all contributed to a very real problem that’s worth calling out when it happens.
After all, recent studies have shown that fat-shaming isn’t just mean, it can involve serious health risks for those who experience it. And one recent study claims that an overwhelming 94% of teenage girls experience fat-shaming at some point in their formative years.
But this simply isn’t one of those cases. While Carrey’s portrait of Sanders certainly isn’t flattering, it’s clearly more a political critique or a critique of the job she does than a personal insult about her physical appearance. There’s a long history of using unflattering portraits of political figures to make a point that has nothing to do with their real-world body shape, size, or appearance.
Trying to frame political criticism of the White House press secretary as body-shaming only distracts from the real problem, one that these same media outlets rarely seemed concerned about when the alleged target isn’t one of their political allies.
Carrey himself has addressed the supposed backlash, tweeting out a satirical painting he did of Trump to make his point. But that hasn’t stopped a number of people from calling him out.
Actor Jim Carrey targeted what appears to be WH press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders with lewd artwork of her likeness in a tweet slamming her as a “so-called Christian” who lies for a living.
— 🇺🇸⚜️Zack⚜️🇺🇸 (@zack_nola) March 18, 2018
Liberals and progressives alike should be called out when they’re hypocritical on such a significant issue.
Body-shaming and bullying aren’t limited to one side of the political spectrum.
In politics, many on the left have fallen into attacking Donald Trump for his appearance. As we’ve written before, there is no shortage of things to criticize Trump for — and going after his weight isn’t necessary or productive.
More recently, The New Yorker was criticized by Fox News and others for its cover depicting a nude Trump. That seems more fair, even though many find it hard to defend the most powerful man in the world who himself has a long history of body-shaming vulnerable women.
If Carrey was doing that here with Sanders, we’d be first in line to criticize him for that.
Political figures are fair game for criticism. Treating any attack as personal is a distraction from the real issues.
It’s not always easy to draw the line on acceptable criticism of public figures.
Making direct threats against their safety is a clear red line no one should cross. However, it’s clear here that a number of people are using the shield of “body-shaming” and “bullying” as a way to distract from valid criticism of Sanders and her boss.
We’re not saying Carrey’s commentary was kind, but it’s well within the bounds of political criticism. And that’s something everyone should defend, even when it’s their team that’s being targeted.