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OPINION

Stop taking pictures of people in the gym

It’s bad for everyone’s health

Added on

By Hannah Banks-Walker on

Most of us have a camera attached to our phones, which most of us carry with us everywhere we go. For the majority, this makes it easier to capture life’s lovely moments – days out with friends, holidays, weddings. But for a spiteful minority, this is apparently an excuse to exploit and embarrass random strangers. Last year, Dani Mathers, a Playboy model who took a picture of a naked woman in a changing room and posted it to Snapchat, was forced to defend herself in court. She had posted the picture along with the caption “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either”, along with a selfie in which she’s portraying mock horror. Fast forward to 2018 and Mathers is still enjoying an active life on social media, boasting 492,000 followers who presumably enjoy the naked pictures of herself she posts alongside captions like: “Never be ashamed of yourself. Because you are born into ONE skin. You can scar it, stretch it, burn it, mark it, tan it, peel it. But you are always in it, so you might as well learn to love it.' #lovetheskinyourein ?.” Irony is officially dead.

Anyway, it seems that Mathers’ appearance in court hasn’t taught us anything. One tweet recently doing the rounds showed a video of a man appearing to take a selfie at the gym, while somebody seemingly filmed him without his consent. The caption accompanying the video was “Ever wonder who your girl is talking to behind your back?"

Lest we fall into a humour vacuum, it’s obvious that this was meant as a throwaway joke. Which would be acceptable if it looked like the man was complicit. But actually, there’s a significant difference between laughing with and laughing at someone – particularly when laughing at them involves filming them without their knowledge, only to post that footage all over the internet.

 It’s mean spirited at best, something more sinister at worst

It also only helps to exacerbate the world’s increasingly consuming obsession with body image. Apparently, we’re living in the era of “body positivity”, where Instagram encourages people to share their “imperfections” and celebrates individuality. Which it often does. But it’s also home to millions of photographs of “perfection” – whether that be depicted as a certain holiday, breakfast or body type. It’s just an extension of the impossible standards we’ve always been subjected to. Only this time, it has infiltrated our daily lives in a way it didn’t before social media existed.

While there is an ongoing fight against body shaming, including campaigns like “I Weigh” from Jameela Jamil (who also constantly tweets her frustration and disgust at the prevalence of body shaming from influential celebrities like Kim Kardashian), this goes beyond celebrity, as the tweet from “Barstool Sports” proves. It’s mean spirited at best, something more sinister at worst. Technology makes our lives so much easier in so many ways – let’s hope the minority using it to publicly shame and humiliate their fellow human beings realise that their own actions are, in fact, bad for everyone’s health.

@hlbw

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Body image
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Hannah Banks-Walker
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