Psychologist Says Body-shaming Headlines have no place in Journalism
Singer Demi Lovato has suffered publicly and openly.
In 2018, she suffered a near-fatal drug overdose — sources told TMZ she was using oxycodone laced with fentanyl — and has been very public about her eating disorder. Yet, the online magazine the Inquisitr decided it was OK to comment on her body being “fuller.” A headline over a March 26 article read, “Demi Lovato Appears To Have A Fuller Figure After Working Up A Sweat In LA.”
Dr. Renee Solomon, psychologist and co-owner of Forward Recovery, has followed this story and says these sorts of headlines can inflict serious psychological harm.
“We wonder why so many teenage girls suffer from eating disorders, low self-esteem and body dysmorphic disorder,” Dr. Solomon said. “Sometimes, it’s because of what they read. Journalists have the pressure of covering noteworthy stories, which can sometimes border on sensationalism. But the clicks and buzz these stories generate can come at the price of making people feel attacked and horrible about themselves.”
Dr. Solomon said the point of journalism is to give the public information they would otherwise not have; that way they can, in theory, live more informed lives. “But I often see paparazzi outside restaurants waiting to snap unflattering photos of celebrities.”
The doctor said it’s important for consumers to avoid rewarding negative comments.
Lovato responded to the headline with an Instagram story, writing, in big red letters, “I AM MORE THAN MY WEIGHT.”
Lovato further wrote, “Unlike the past, I’m not triggered, I’m not upset that someone wrote a headline about my ‘fuller figure.’ I’m angry that people think it’s okay to write headlines about people’s body shapes. … I’m not upset for myself but for anyone easily influenced by the diet culture.”
Iheartradio.com reported that Inquisitr Editor Fabio Magnocavallo apologized to Lovato in a direct message. He later appended a note to the updated story that read, “While I wrote this story with the best of intentions, I totally appreciate and understand her perspective on the matter and culture in general and I truly appreciate her taking the time to have a dialogue with me about it. As Demi said to me, ‘Our voices are all we have to create the biggest change on this planet.'”
“Hopefully, journalists will use this as an example of what not to do moving forward,” Dr. Solomon said.
Forward Recovery, a Los Angeles drug and alcohol rehabilitation and recovery center, has experts in developmental behavior, and work as a team to help clients repair relationships with their loved ones, learn to love themselves and build healthy futures. Decades of combined experience treating addiction have given Forward Recovery staff a grounded perspective and expert knowledge about which available treatment methods are effective.