In recent weeks, The Veronicas have made headlines for ‘attacking body shamers’ who claim the twins are so thin, they’re promoting anorexia to young girls.
While the 31-year-old pop duo are no strangers to body shaming, the latest bout of vitriol was sparked by the release of their new single In My Blood, which was packaged with cover art depicting Jessica and Lisa Origliasso naked and covered in metallic purple paint.
At first, they actually expressed their surprise that their bodies hadn’t been criticised. In an SMH article titled, ‘The Veronicas celebrate their curves’, Jessica said: “We have boobs and hips, we are women. We are 31 now and I have grown an a**. Your body changes in your 30s.”
But it seems this optimism attracted attention, and soon, comments were flooding in from people telling the women to ‘eat something’, because they’re far ‘too thin.’
On Sunday, in an interview with Kate Waterhouse, the Origliasso sisters defended themselves in perhaps more detail than they have before, saying that they’ve had enough, and are sick of being ‘blamed’ for young women feeling bad about their bodies.
“It gets to me…when they try to frame it as though we’re contributing or we’re the result of young women becoming anorexic,” said Jessica.
“That hurts me because we take health so seriously … We eat a lot of whole foods, we don’t buy into take-away any more.
“So don’t try to treat me like I’m the problem. I know that I’m not. I know that she is not. We’re very confident in ourselves and self education.”
She has a point. The Veronicas’ bodies, in a vacuum, aren’t the problem. In an ideal world, people’s appearances wouldn’t come with value judgments. You’d simply look how you look, and no one would feel the need to comment. Of course, that's not the world we live in. Every day conversations both in person and on social media are flooded with comments about people's (mostly women's) body weight and shape. They're too fat or too thin, they've gained too much/lost too much weight during/following pregnancy. It's frustrating and it's sad that women's bodies are laden with meaning, when none of us agreed to be part of such a system.
But there is another side to 'skinny shaming.'
The Veronicas don't exist in a vacuum. They exist in a context where an overwhelming majority of women in the public eye are objectively tiny. Where being underweight is frighteningly common, to the point where young girls and women adopt a skewed idea of what's normal, and ultimately subscribe to a thin ideal that isn't realistic for most people.
As someone who has worked with patients with eating disorders, and listened to them speak about how they perceive weight and shape in popular culture, there's only one way I can express our obsession with thinness: it's f**ked.
#Arias 2015 ???? Glam: @nonimakeup @fleureganstyle A photo posted by JE$$•QUANYIN•REISHI•VERONICA (@jessicaveronica) on Nov 25, 2015 at 9:48pm PST
In Nadroga, Fiji, eating disorders were virtually non-existent until television was introduced in 1995. Within three years, 15% of girls admitted to vomiting to control weight, and 74% reported feeling "too big and fat" at least sometimes.
Pop culture has a huge impact on our attitudes towards eating, weight and shape.
People with diagnosed eating disorders, as well as many people without them, deeply believe there is inherent value in being thin, and that any kind of fat is synonymous with failure. No, this isn't The Veronicas fault. Not even close. But they are a part of this system.
Watch the trailer for Taryn Brumfitt's documentary 'Embrace', which focuses on body image and how we're going to change the future for women and girls...
So when they describe themselves as 'curvy', vulnerable people get an even more warped view of their own bodies. When Jessica Origliasso says 'your body changes in your 30s', as though her body is that of a typical 31-year-old, it's confusing.
That's why when people start saying that The Veronicas are really thin, I'm hesitant to entirely shut down the discussion by calling it 'skinny shaming.' Perhaps these people are just trying to flag that most 31-year-old women don't look like Jessica and Lisa Origliasso. And that's okay.
The vitriol that comes along with these comments, on the other hand, is not okay. It's often mean and cruel and patronising.
But acknowledging that The Veronicas are very petite women is really important. Being able to say that they're skinny is crucial.
It's reality - not shaming.