There’s a fairly recent phenomenon sweeping over us, and for good or for shame, it seems to be spreading into an out-of-control entity in both social media and real life. “Shaming” is a recently coined term for placing blame on another person or group of people as a way to publicly denounce their behaviour.
The most prominent example that most are familiar with now is the term “slut-shaming,” which is used to describe the criticism for dressing or acting in a manner perceived as promiscuous. From my understanding, slut-shaming became a well-recognized term alongside Toronto’s Slutwalk in 2011—a rally in response to a police officer’s remarks to a class at York University: that women could keep safe from sexual violence if they “avoid dressing like sluts”––a comment that many proclaimed was slut-shaming, victim-blaming, and irresponsibly lifted the blame off the attackers and onto the victim.
More recently, I believe, the term “fat-shaming” followed suit. As you can guess, fat-shaming is a term used when someone is criticizing a person’s weight. Hand-in-hand with fat-shaming is body-shaming, which encompasses a larger range of criticizing someone about their body.
In his Vice article, “Shame on Everyone: Just because you don’t like someone’s criticism doesn’t mean they’re shaming you,” Mark Peters acknowledges that the term “shaming” is “often used to point out legitimately horrible behaviour, especially towards women.” He also raises the point that assigning “-shaming” to (add noun here) is disheveling the importance of social movement terms like slut-shaming. And though the more serious types of shaming (like slut-shaming or fat-shaming) are actually viewed with contempt in a “shame on you for shaming others” sort of way, there is a lighter breed of shaming that has branched out from these roots.
Shaming for the sake of comedy has fabricated everything from animal-shaming and baby-shaming (ex. “I pooped in your slippers,” “I ate your cookie-scented candles…”[the two are transferable between animal and baby]) to passenger-shaming (a website full of photos of the worst possible people you could near near on a plane or bus).
But throughout my semi-not-overly-extensive research for this editorial, my favourite type of shaming is probably the type which Peters dubs the “unintentionally comical kind.”
He explains: “Guys who are tired of being called creeps have absurdly claimed creep-shaming, for instance,” writes Peters. “Breast-feeding advocates are sometimes accused of formula-shaming moms. I’ve also seen social-media-shaming, tattoo-shaming, luxury-shaming, attendance-shaming, snack-shaming, bigot-shaming, privilege-shaming, salary-shaming, single-shaming (i.e., shaming the unmarried or unattached), fedora-shaming, Drake-shaming, and filter-shaming. This last word was used, with all apparent sincerity, in an article by an acne sufferer who felt “shamed” for her use of Instagram filters by ‘selfie queens’”
If the term “shaming” has already been beaten to a pulp by precarious overuse, I think I could take a few swings of my own at the Shame Game.
As I stand, I’m a whopping 5’1, so it’s not surprising I’ve experienced some height-shaming in my days. Like when my 6’1 college roommate, after a brief spat, thought it would be hilarious to move all my dishes into the highest cupboard. Luckily, short people never really grow out of the “climbing-on-kitchen-counters-to-reach-the-cookies” stage. If I really wanted to push my limits of height-shaming, I’d also call up public transit vehicle manufacturers and suggest adjustable seats. There’s a reason short people take off their shoes and sit-crossed legged on buses and trains: it’s because our feet dangle above the ground and fall asleep.
Yes, I know extra vitamin C is good to take in the winter. And to the lady in the drugstore last month who told me I shouldn’t be out in public if I have pneumonia, I encourage you start a healthcare system reform that involves a pharmacy prescription delivery service.
I don’t need to be asked several times if I like the food, if I’m not hungry, or if you can eat my food. I only have six molars on either side of my mouth and I’m sure it has some impact on the speed of my chewing and food intake.
Admittedly, I’m getting pretty silly here. But, hey, maybe one day I’ll evoke enough guilt from the world that buses will install adjustable seats, physicians will deliver my antibiotics to my door, and I’ll be able to enjoy a full meal with friends without being told to hurry up. And that…will be my claim to shame.