Time to talk about how talking over people works

Silencing and talking over are phrases used to describe the act of denying equal time for various voices and perspectives in the community. It’s what we do when we dismiss the experience of someone else because it does not fit our own. Lately, I see a deep connection between it and white privilege, especially after I read Rachel Cargle in Harpers suggest that silencing happens, “especially for white people… when the truth hangs so painfully heavy on their shoulders that they’d rather get rid of the weight, than actually face the issue head on.”

Why should truth be a burden? Because, writes Cargle, “it reflects the false securities that our society rests on: the elitism, the capitalism, the racism, the ableism, the sexism, the homo/transphobia, the xenophobia, the anti-blackness.” 

Health doesn’t equal thinness

I see it in a weird kind of anti-body-positivity vibe coming from some of the more extreme fitness influencers, who are denigrating research around the effect social media has on the health of girls and women, dismissing journalists who share that information, with some even claiming it is misinformation being spread through a corporate/media conspiracy to deprive fit women of representation across broadcast media. In other words, we don’t have enough sculpted white women in tv and ads.

Charicature of a white woman with blond mouth talking loudly

The argument bizarrely appears rooted in refuting research done by Dove around girls, body image, mental health and social media. While questioning the motives of Dove as a company – and P&G as part of a larger corporate structure – is absolutely legitimate, you can’t deny the mountain of research that backs up campaign claims.

As far back as 2017, there was a review of literature around girls and social media, through California State University, Monterey Bay that mirrored and predicted many later findings. More recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that too much time on social media negatively affects the ability to learn, and can affect mental health. Facebook’s own research reports that 32 per cent of teenage girls who feel bad about their body feel worse after they have been on Instagram. That’s the same Facebook, btw, that marketed weight loss products to kids as young as 12.

Fitspiration is not your BFF

Research by the National Library of Medicine showed that two thirds of fitness influencers promote advice that has no scientific basis, and that many of them make a living out of selling supplements that have little nutritional benefit. It calls the popular but controversial #fitspiration hashtag and movement “toxic”.

Since 2020, New York City’s Mt. Sinai Hospital has seen a 300 per cent increase in adolescent eating disorders.

an extremely thing woman holding a weight who is supposed to look healthy
Over-exposing girls to unrealistic or stereotypical images of what’s “healthy” isn’t healthy for them

Hard to comprehend anyone talking over these professionals, who present corroborating data coming from everywhere from the Boston Children’s Hospital to the Chan School of Public Health (as in Harvard) that supports findings that looking continuously at unrealistic body images on social media can cause the mental health of girls and woman to plummet and spiral down.

The worst kind of talking over

None of this data was cooked up in a marketing lab, or manipulated by media moguls who hate women with muscles. It is the direct reflection of talking to thousands and thousands and thousands of young girls and women.

That’s why I find this such an egregious example of talking over a vulnerable group. Not because it thumbs its well-turned nose at volumes of research from credible sources, but because it claims the right to obliterate the actual voices of girls.

Karens for Cross-fit

So weird to punch down like that on little girls I mean, I guess if that’s your thing – freedom of speech and all – but if you ARE going to be talking over my youthful sisters, at least you could acknowledge that it comes from your own hatred of fat bodies, and not pretend you’re doing something “empowering” for them. Coz many of them say you ain’t.

PS: You cats who like and forward this stuff? I am NOT picking up what you’re laying down. All you cooler cats, click on the STOP TALKING OVER US for a lil treat.

Vicky Sanderson

A self-confessed Opinion-ista, Vicky Sanderson has been writing and talking about décor, design and lifestyle issues for almost two decades, and has tested just about every home product known to humankind.

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