Fearne Cotton is right, men just don’t face the same body scrutiny as women

She condemned the judgement and discussion around other people’s bodies as ‘unhelpful’ and said they only serve to drive ‘a narrative that women have to look a certain way to be accepted.’ 

‘This sort of attention is not cast upon men, ever,’ she said, which felt particularly poignant. Applying such comments to a situation involving a man, as we did at the beginning of this article, highlights rather starkly the disparity between the treatment of men and women’s bodies. Fearne’s right – men just don’t face this level of body scrutiny.

Women – all women, not just ones in the public eye – are constantly monitored for their appearance. Too fat, too thin, too shapely, not enough shape, too old, too much Botox – you get the picture. We exist under a spotlight that is bright and harsh, and it’s exhausting. I feel it – and I imagine a lot of people reading this do too. 

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Some people on Fearne’s Instagram post observed that it was only women making the body-shaming comments, insinuating that body pressures stem from women judging other women. While this observation is not true – I saw many men chiming in with harmful remarks on the picture – it is true that women can often be the culprits when it comes to judging other women for their appearance. But the very important thing to note is that this behaviour doesn’t stem from women; it’s not an innate part of being a woman, rather the preoccupation with appearance is rooted in our patriarchal society which values women for how they look, and not what they can offer the world. We all need to reassess this – both men and women – but it’s also a systemic issue that needs tackling. 

In this follow-up post, Fearne Cotton concluded: ‘No matter what my size, pregnant or otherwise, I have knobbly knees and spindly ankles. I have always held my weight around my midriff. It’s difficult for everyone. But also I’m not sure why I am defending myself here. Due to having been bulimic in my twenties, I am extra sensitive to these sorts of discussions as I have worked hard to heal, recover and get to a place where I love food, eat for energy and pleasure, exercise to give me strength now I’m in my forties and feel so grateful for my health. 

‘I am in no way upset or personally offended as I’ve been through a lot worse, but I will keep fighting this fight for ALL women for the rest of my life. I am much more than what my body looks like, as are ALL women.’ 

That last sentence is the key here: every single woman is more than her body and more than her appearance. We have far, far more to offer the world than a flat stomach or curves or a wrinkle-free face. Our appearance should be the least interesting thing about us – our society just needs to catch up.