Cyberbullying: A Means of Governmentality & Biopower over the Teenage Girl?

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The pictures above are of supermodel Karlie Kloss, who has recently shot several pictures for various magazines that have sparked controversy. Currently, spectators are debating over whether or not her body is healthy and if she has an eating disorder. I choose not to have those specific pictures in this blog-post, because I did not want this blog post mistaken or associated with blogs that support  pro-ana on the contrary I AM AGAINST PRO-ANA. Getting back to the blog post, a comment left by a online reader on the article entitled Magazine Airbrushes Out Karlie Kloss’ Ribs After Vogue Shoot Sparked Eating Disorder by Deborah Arthurs, calling Kloss’ body, “Gross and disgusting” and going as far as to say, “…this body is horrible! She must break in half every time someone touches her.” Other commenters justify their claims of calling Kloss unhealthy through reference of her low B.M.I. (Body Mass Index), the protrusion of her ribs, and her toned physique.

These all seem like reasonable justifications that may in fact prove that she is unhealthy, but let’s reconsider the facts at hand and then come to a consensus again. The Center of Disease Control defines the B.M.I. as a number calculated from a person’s weight and height as an indicator of body fat and to screen for weight categories (underweight, healthy, and overweight).   Or in Layman’s terms the B.M.I  shows a positive correlation between height and “healthy” body weight. But, as is taught in science correlation does not nescarrily equate to causation. So for Karlie Kloss who has unusual proportions, 6 ft. 1 inches and 125 lbs., and is still developing as young woman (a teenager) when these pictures were taken her B.M.I. is naturally below 18.5, therefore she will be classified as underweight.  When the B.M.I. is used as the sole means of diagnosing Mrs. Kloss as underweight the results are inconclusive.  In the photos at question Kloss’ protruding ribs are made more apparent by her exaggerated contorted pose.  Lastly, her muscular physique can be attributed to the fact that she works out and practices ballet.

Anyways getting to the point there is no sure way of knowing whether or not Karlie Kloss suffers from an eating disorder or not. Let us not go around pretending to be medical professionals falsely diagnosing someone with or without an eating disorder over the Internet with no qualifications to pass such judgment.  Critiquing and objectifying her body parts will not help or prove anything. If this is Ms. Kloss’ natural body, which is likely the case since she is only 19 years old, very tall, and probably just finished growing into her height; it is unfair for us to go around calling her and girls with her body type (stature and weight) disgusting and ugly for their natural appearance (something they themselves have no control over). The Internet is a powerful tool, it offers anonymity and makes communication much easier.  However, with the use of this powerful tool comes responsibility, it is important for us be aware of the things we say to each other over the Internet, which could wind up being hurtful and contribute to the cyber-bullying of others. Cyber-bullying is not ok, things can easily escalate and wind up in that person committing suicide, as was the case of Amanda Todd.

Naturally, skinny girls are not uncommon in fact when I attended high school which had  prestigious ballet and basketball programs  many of my classmates (young girls) were of that height and had very low weights. Biopower and governmentality of the female body is a two-way street it works from both extremes of the spectrum, telling girls who are naturally skinny and fat that their bodies are ugly. Societal beauty standards suggest to girls that if they do not have a certain body type they are a bad person and lack self-control.  As a result, a naturally fat person is made out to be monster (monster theory, Rebecca Black), while a naturally skinny person is made out to have some kind of eating disorder

While I agree that Karlie’s body type should not be promoted as the ideal for young women, since most young women do not have those body proportions (she is 9 inches taller than the average American woman who is 5ft. 4 inches and a much longer body frame) which gives her more area to distribute her body weight and probably requires a higher metabolic rate. We need to be aware of the ideals being promoted by magazines that plaster her naturally slender body across their pages.  The editor in chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani gingerly admitted during a speech at Harvard University that, “fashion was one of the causes’ of anorexia”. She even goes on to say, “the industry’s reliance on imagery  glorifies extreme thinness, to the point where we now accept such aesthetic standards as entirely normal, and something to aspire to”. So when Numero magazine, chose to Airbrush out Karlie’s protruding ribs in its October 2012 Issue after finding out that the image winded up on Pro-anorexia blogs can you necessarily blame them?

Lastly, we need to be careful how we pass judgment about others over the Internet, especially the bodies’ of young teenage girls.  At the same time we must be aware of the unrealistic ideals promoted by the fashion industry and continue to instill values of self-acceptance amongst young girls as various factors contribute to a  “healthy” body. A “healthy” body comes in a assortment of shapes and forms. Let’s leave the diagnosis of those who are healthy and not healthy to the medical professionals.

Thanks for reading, if you like what you read you can follow me on  Twitter at DemelioU or  you can subscribe  to my RSS feed the little orange button in the left hand menu.

Demelio U.

Signing OFF

2 responses to “Cyberbullying: A Means of Governmentality & Biopower over the Teenage Girl?

  1. I’m a fan of the slideshow!

    I definitely agree with you that people sometimes use the online platform as a way to verbalize things they normally wouldn’t – which can lead to cyber-bullying. And I think people can get into trouble for making claims about other’s bodies – like they do in tabloids such as US Weekly or Star. They will usually have a doctor -who if you read the fine print did NOT perform the surgery on the actor/actress – guess the weight of an actress or the type of plastic surgery they had done. It is not fair to them or to the readers who eat up everything they write. Good Point!

  2. thanks for the comment, to put a slideshow into a post write the word slideshow in brackets and all the pictures attached to the post will appear in the slideshow. I am sure it’s hard for celebrities to constantly see rumors about themselves in the tabloids.

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