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Did the internet switch up on Jorja Smith?

In an era where photoshop, surgery and filters are prevalent, society is used to thinking that ‘Sexy’ comes in one size.  

Social media never lets us forget. It’s so easy to obsess over what a perfect body size is, what a bikini body is “supposed” to look like. Scroll online for 2 minutes and you’ll see BBL bodies, Lori Harvey’s ‘snatched’ diet plans & so many cosmetic packages that I think society has forgotten what a real body looks like. Real bodies have fat, stretch marks, hip dips & more. 

It’s exhausting to be a woman today and being in the public eye only makes it worse. The recent body shaming that Jorja Smith has been subject to, along with a whole twitter discourse on her weight shows that we as a society have so much work to do when it comes to body positivity, especially because social media has made it so much easier for trolls to comment on it.  

 

When Jorja Smith first came on the scene, the twitter discourse was completely different. The fresh faced, slim beauty had the timeline in a frenzy with threads of people complimenting her, that quickly turned into lewd, sexual comments with people saying they would drink her toilet water & smell her discharge*… she was the epitome of being sexually objectified.  

 

 

Jorja’s always rocked her naturally curvy body but after her recent weight gain people started to comment on her body more & more, with the body shaming comments resurfacing after her Strictly Come Dancing performance. It was a beautiful performance, promoting her new album falling or flying. She looked flawless, with soft glam and a sparkly ensemble, yet all the internet could comment on was her body. 

 

The TL was filled with countless tweets of ‘What happened to Jorja Smith?’, ‘Is Jorja Smith expecting?’* and ‘She used to be so bad, now she’s just a fattie’ along with people comparing her to Lizzo, another singer who has been the target of bodyshaming. Jorja became a trending topic on twitter, being picked apart because her body no longer fits the idea of ‘Sexy’ and treating her as if her sole purpose is for men’s consumption and fantasy.  

 

Unfortunately, 94% of teenage girls have been victims of body shaming. By the time we get to adulthood, being judged on our bodies is a normal occurrence. However, there were mixed reactions on twitter as a lot of people came to her defense. ‘Jorja Smith does not exist to fulfill your sexual desires. Don’t piss me off’.’ ‘Not everyone has a BBL. This is a natural body right here’ ‘Jorja smith was fine then. Fine tomorrow, ya’ll trippin’.* Her devout fanbase defended her, which is important as negative comments like these can so easily trigger low self-esteem, eating disorders and more.  

About 12.5 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, showing the damage of unrealistic beauty standards. Women are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, so it’s becoming harder to ignore the repercussions that come with the negative comments. 

People forget that it can sometimes be health issues that can cause weight gain and we don’t know what Jorja Smith is going through. The same thing happened to Selena Gomez as trolls began to comment on her rounder face and weight gain, before she revealed she had actually been struggling with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease which is what caused it.  

Growing up mixed race meant that I was always body shamed for different things. My white side of the family would always comment on how much I eat, and that I need to ‘watch my weight’ and tell me I’m gaining puppy fat. Whereas the black side of my family would say the opposite and talk about how skinny I am, that I need to eat more to be thicker so I couldn’t really win. Jorja also touches on this point.

@bbc1xtra nothing but facts from @Jorja Smith 🙌🏾 #jorjasmith #loveyourself #bullying #selfacceptance #bbc1xtra ♬ original sound – BBC1Xtra

“In school, all my friends were white. All my friends were skinny. I wanted to be skinny. I ran so hard and didn’t eat that much because I wanted to fit in.”  

My point is, it’s impossible to fulfill the beauty standards of today because it changes all the time.   

In the 90’s, the skinnier you were, the sexier you were, then BBL culture quickly became a trend with the rise of the Kardashians & now some of them have even taken out their implants and we’re suddenly in this ‘Snatched’ Ozempic era, you can never really win. Women go through so many hormonal changes and life events that can cause weight gain – so don’t ever let the internet shame you for looking normal.  

On Jorja’s interview with Porter she explained “I don’t search for things, but if I’m on TikTok, I’ll see comments and they won’t be all negative, but I’ve put on some weight, which is normal because I’m not a child. Like, it’s cool. But the world doesn’t let you be cool.” She also commented on a comparison picture of herself a few years apart, targeting her weight gain where she commented “I’m 21 in one pic. 26 in the other, I never was very healthy before either & I have to grow in front of u all, how strange.” It’s refreshing to see people, including men coming to Jorja’s defence as putting on weight as you get older is completely normal and she shouldn’t even have to explain herself. As Jorja is getting older, she said that she’s coming to terms with her body now and realized that everyone looks like themselves for a reason. “You are you for a reason. You look like you, cuz you do, you can’t look like anyone else.” the singer explains on a BBC1XTRA interview. 

It seems like every woman has struggled with their body image & self-esteem at one point or another in life, so it’s important to filter out the negativity as much as possible and focus on body positivity. It takes time and it’s a journey to embrace your body as Jorja said she struggled for a long time but if you’re also finding it hard to embrace your body these steps can encourage self-love.  

 

  1. Avoid comparison to others. Comparison is the thief of joy and the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the old you. Not the younger, slimmer version of yourself but instead ask yourself “Am I healthier now? Am I happier now? What hobbies did I have then that I’ve stopped doing now?” Your only goal should be ensuring your health & happiness.  
  2. celebrate small victories & personal growth. Set yourself small weekly/monthly goals such as completing a to-do list, as this will release dopamine which causes positive feelings such as pleasure, happiness & motivation.
  3. ensure you’re engaging with body-positive content & communities! It’s so important to try & improve your algorithm and be cautious of the content that you see every day as you take it in. If your feed is always full of influencers who don’t post anything of substance, just filters and fake bodies it will be harder for you to adopt a positive mindset, instead, follow people and pages who encourage self-love and self-growth without the toxicity. For example, Vex King, Bella Davies, Stehanie Yeboah and Chrissy king are perfect for making your algorithm more positive. Also, practice self-love & self-care rituals, whatever it is that makes you happy. Mediating, doing your skincare routine, spending time with friends etc. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s helping you. 

 

Ultimately, I hope Jorja’s journey has a silver lining and hopefully encourages you to embrace your body. The internet & society is very fickle, one minute they love you and you’re the sexiest thing ever, the next, you’ve put on some weight now you’re worthless and undesirable. That’s why as women it’s so important to make sure your worth is not rooted in your appearance and what other people think of you. There’s always going to be someone ‘badder’, someone with a bigger bum, or skinnier than you but nobody will ever be you & that’s your power. The same way that Jorja’s undeniable talent will always shine, regardless of trolls, because you can attack anybody’s appearance, but could they come for Jorja vocally? Probably not.  

 

Jorja, an unproblematic icon with awards & accolades to her name, could they come for her personal life or her morals? Definitely not. So just remember, some people will hate you simply just for existing. That’s why it’s important to know your worth & embrace your body, because the trend will only change again in a few months & the cycle of hating your body will only repeat again & again until you learn to love every inch.  

 

 

Shelby Briggs

Music journalist and tastemaker

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