Here's a scenario: A 6th grade girl spends days, possibly weeks, picking out a dress for her extremely important school dance. She loves it; she thinks it makes her look special and beautiful. She wears it, making her feel confident and gorgeous. She goes to the dance and has the night of her life. She dances, has fun and goes to bed on a cloud.
She wakes up the next morning to discover that she and her dress are the butt of a cruel social media joke. Everyone is making fun of it. And her. There are parodies of the dress. A particularly cruel one has people making versions of it made out of toilet paper. So much for the best night of her life.
What would we do in this situation? We'd probably call the school and make the mean girls and perpetrators take the posts down. We'd demand repercussions. We certainly wouldn't tolerate it. Yet when it happened to Jennifer Lawrence after the Golden Globes it was not only accepted, it was fodder for front-page news.
So why is it okay to bully a 23-year-old girl but not a 12-year-old one? Do we stop getting our feelings hurt at 21? Does becoming an actress mean that you are sport for anyone's insults? After all, I'm fairly sure that when Jennifer, Zooey Deschanel, Allison Williams, Zoe Saldana and some of the others who wound up on the "Worst Dressed Lists" picked their dresses (or had professional stylists do so), they felt pretty good about themselves! They looked in the mirror and liked what they saw. So who are we to tear them down? I'm all for championing the BEST dressed, but do we really need to select the worst?
And more importantly, if the gossip and mainstream news shows promote these messages, how will we ever convince our kids that bullying isn't allowed when they see their parents and elders and respected media doing it to our peers? Do we really need to show our kids that making fun of people is not only okay but newsworthy? How can we tell our kids to be nice to the children at school and then shush them to watch the morning shows to watch a segment trashing dresses from the night before? After all, these lists are hardly relegated to the sordid unread zines; they're hitting broadcast news and homepages of mainstream search engines.
We wouldn't let our kids get away with this behavior. Why should we?