It’s one of the most cringey social media debacles of 2016 so far.
Blake Lively, she who scores 10 out of 10 in all of the gossip magazines for her red carpet outfits and who’s happily married to Ryan Reynolds, tripped up in the eyes of many at the Cannes Film Festival.
Commenting on her body in a form-fitting gown on Instagram, Lively quoted lyrics from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 song Baby Got Back: “LA face with an Oakland booty.”
Immediately the backlash came streaming in, with many interpreting Lively’s use of the lyrics, which were originally penned to celebrate the bodies of black women, as racially ignorant coming from a white, thin, privileged woman.
While Sir Mix-A-Lot himself, and hundreds of others, came out in defence of her comments, Lively’s camp left the image up and stayed deathly quiet – until now.
Speaking with radio station SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning team, Lively spoke about why she used the now infamous caption.
“It’s something I was proud of. I never meant to offend anyone, but Sir Mix-A-Lot, he actually said a very nice thing. He was very defensive and kind because it’s just about celebrating women’s bodies and that’s what I was doing,” she explained.
“I would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or upset anyone. I was celebrating my body. It’s nice to have a nice curve and not look like you’re starving to death.”
(Post continues after gallery.)
I believe Lively never meant to offend anyone with her first comment and I also believe that she hasn’t meant to offend with this fresh addition. (I’m not even going to delve into the racial complexities at play here.)
The actress is completely unaware that her insistence on loving curves and hating a look that screams “too skinny” has just added to the dialogue that makes thousands of women look in the mirror and feel utterly crappy about themselves.
Why is it that when a woman talks positively about her body shape, she has to pick sides?
You either love being curvy, having a little extra weight on you and abhor skeletal women who need to eat a burger.
Or, you’re thin, obsessed with being healthy and wish curvy women knew how ‘dangerous’ their obsession with having a J-Lo-esque booty is.
There is no middle ground. Zero. The two camps are countries separated by a sea that’s choppy with waves of body image mixed messages.
We’ve seen a shift in the idea of beauty in the last couple of decades. While in the nineties the pendulum may have swung dangerously on the thin side of the spectrum, it’s flung back in the other direction with equal force. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
‘Embrace’ is an Australian documentary about body image, specifically putting an end to body loathing and body shaming. Post continues below.
Now, more women than ever are attempting to fit the curvy Kardashian model, with butt augment rates rising 58 per cent in the US alone from 2014 to 2015. Of course, if you are naturally stick thin, or naturally abundant in the booty area, power to you.
But while the two ideals might look vastly different, they both reek of the same obsession with fitting the “in” mould of beauty, and not daring to stray too far. That beauty is a circle and if you’re a triangle you’d better damn well try your best to shave away those angles.
The stark reality is that fitting neatly into those boxes is not feasible for the majority of women. To point out the glaring obvious: women come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Big butts, small butts. Curvy, or straight up and down. Flat chested or big breasted. Fat, or ribs-showing skinny. And all of the in between.
And it’s all perfectly natural. It’s diverse. It’s certainly all beautiful.
You can be proud of being a curvy woman without denouncing a woman who is waif thin.
You can be naturally petite and not scoff at a size 14 woman who is proud of her body.
There are no teams; we’re not at war, there is space for us all to exist. (Post continues after gallery.)
When powerful women like Lively stand up and say they praise the female form in all its diversity then follow up with a “but it’s less than ideal to look like you’re starving” zinger, it carries weight.
It tells women who’ve always felt self-conscious about their thinness that they aren’t enough. It perpetuates the myth that women are only deemed attractive or worthy when they come packaged in a way that society has deemed acceptable.
Lively should feel free to celebrate that delightful bum of hers whenever she feels like it (hell, I would be if I was its proud owner), but next time it’d be great if she served it without a side of judgement.
What did you make of Blake Lively’s comments?