With the increased use of body-positive media on current social platforms, people of every gender and sexuality are coming into the light for who they are. Aside from the stir of negative attention, these displays of admiration inspire the general public to love everyone for who they are, and to indulge in some self love. But what happens if the intentions behind some of these posts don’t show attitudes moving forward, but instead put a positive spin on the male gaze still present in society?
Recent attention has been drawn to poor, unsuspecting Robbie Tripp who, via popular picture sharing platform Instagram, posted a seemingly innocent couple photo praising his wife for her “thick thighs, big booty, cute little side roll, etc.”. What appears to be a relatively normal post of appreciation from one partner to another quickly gained criticism for it’s focus on his wife’s weight, with many accusing Tripp of trying to seek praise for loving a woman as she is. Such pointed focus on her bodily features were claimed by some to be patronising, with Tripp parading under the false role of the “nice guy feminist”.
All criticisms of the post aside, it’s apparent that Tripp’s post was in no way malicious; so why did it cause so many problems? The appreciation itself is not a issue, but like most people, I tend to doubt occasions of social media PDA. Was he doing it for the praise and attention? Why did he use so many phrases that sent shivers of cringe through my body? Why, after reading and re-reading the caption, did the post start to rub me up the wrong way?
Taking a moment to myself to think about the deeper issues behind the post, I narrowed down the things that bothered me.
1.He labels one type of woman as a ‘priority’.
As a 20 year old woman, I’ve faced my fair share of body struggles over the years. I consider myself a feminist and I strongly believe that everyone should love themselves for who they are and should not surround themselves with people that think otherwise. Luckily, this belief is growing increasingly popular, and the improvement in the amount of body confidence in the world makes me so happy. But as much as things are improving, it’s just not as easy to love my own body as much as I love my friends’.
Statements like Tripp’s about what ‘real women’ are, and what physical features they have, are a step in the right direction, but with the media’s ever-changing ideal of the perfect body type, there’s a fear that there’ll always be the pressure to fit some sort of standard. I shouldn’t have to emphasise that decisions about a woman’s appearance should not be down to their partners, or the media, or anyone else but them.
2. He self-heroises
To me, there’s a bittersweet aftertaste to Tripp’s backstory. Frankly, I was even shocked by the mention of Tripp being teased when he was younger for liking “chubby” girls (some teenagers suck). But the ‘inspiring’ story of how he self-educated and became wise on matters such as feminism and media marginalisation made me squirm a little.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that so many people are becoming aware of and disregarding the messages of an ‘ideal’ body type, for both genders. What bothers me is those that expect praise for it when it’s something that should, in time, become a normal and assumed moral code. Congratulations Tripp, you win the prize of being a decent human being. Please don’t ruin it by showing off.
3. He’s ever so slightly misguided
I can’t emphasise enough that I think this guy thought he was doing the right thing – and that’s almost the entire problem. Here’s where the term “nice guy feminist” re-appears; Tripp is so caught up in trying to praise love for his wife’s body that he doesn’t realise that he is in fact becoming the issue. We don’t need men to tell us what’s good about us.