For the past few weeks, Usher has been in the headlines due to a lawsuit alleging that he failed to disclose a herpes diagnosis with three sexual partners. The scandal picked up steam on Aug. 7 when one woman, Quantasia Sharpton, claimed during a press conference that Usher put her at risk of getting herpes after they slept together (Bustle has reached out to Usher's rep about the allegations, but has not yet received a response). Yet after the televised conference, both the general public and celebrities have dragged Sharpton, saying they don't believe that her story is true, because she is plus-size. They feel that Sharpton couldn't have had sex with Usher due to her being fat, and as a plus-size woman myself, it's beyond infuriating that people are forming opinions about Sharpton's integrity based entirely on her weight.
UPDATE: A TMZ story published on Aug. 24 reports that according to court documents from the lawsuit in which he is being sued for $20 million, Usher said that a previous sexual partner could have infected the woman and that he is requesting the case be thrown out. Bustle reached out to Usher's reps regarding this report, but did not receive an immediate response.
EARLIER: Whether Sharpton's allegations are true or false, the way social media has aimed hateful comments towards her body is reprehensible. And it doesn't help that some well-known stars have participated in the body shaming of Sharpton, spreading this unnecessary and cruel message. On Instagram, rapper Snoop Dogg shared images of Usher with his past girlfriend, TLC's Chili, and of Sharpton, writing: "Did he give her Hershey's? I need answers." Many of the comments under the musician's post were from followers who shared his sentiment, insisting that because of Sharpton's weight, Usher would never have sex with her.
Snoop Dogg has 18.7 million followers on Instagram — meaning millions of people saw his discrimination of Sharpton and deemed it totally OK. That type of body-shaming sentiment, especially from a celebrity who has power and influence, is dangerous. It contributes to a culture that assumes we, plus size people, are not smart, beautiful, or capable of being successful or loved. And, when a person is insulted for their weight on a public forum, it can negatively affect his or her battle with depression, low self-esteem, and self-harm.
According to DoSomething.org, cyberbullying victims are two to nine times more likely to consider committing suicide. In other words, posts like Snoop Dogg's go far beyond people getting a few laughs by viewing insulting memes that body shame total strangers. These posts perpetuate the idea that "heavy" women are lazier, sloppier, and less worthy of love than "thin" women, which can have a serious impact on a person's self-worth.
Sadly, Snoop isn't the only celeb spreading this hateful message. Comedian and actor Lil Duval shared several vulgar posts about Sharpton on Instagram, with one even saying, "I'll believe Usher gay before I believe he f**ked that girl." Comments like these add to the insulting belief that a woman must be smaller than the man she's with, and if a guy is dating or even "involved" with a big girl, he’s settling. Meanwhile, many non-famous social media users have also made memes, gifs and videos about how they believe Sharpton's story is fake because of her weight.
We live in a culture that says it's cute to be a "thick" girl, but not a fat one. And in the case of Sharpton, being fat can apparently be a factor in having one's claims be discredited or dismissed, despite weight actually having no impact on the validity of one's allegations. Sadly, this isn't a surprise; in 2012, Times of India reported that in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers gave participants a series of resumes with photos of applicants attached, before and after weight-loss surgery. The researchers discovered that the "before" women had worse results when it came to things like starting salary, leadership potential and hiring. In 2017, Vanderbilt University, meanwhile, conducted a study about overweight women being mistreated and discriminated against in the workplace, concluding that, “women employees who are viewed as overweight are not as likely to wind up in jobs involving personal interaction with customers.”
Studies like these make it clear that body shaming can negatively affect all aspects of a person's life, and having that shaming occur on a public platform, like with Sharpton, must be even worse. Furthermore, her situation has made it evident just how much some members of society are against seeing an "attractive" man going for a plus-size woman. In reality, the idea that only thin women are attractive to thin men isn’t sound, and it just adds to the struggles plus-size women already have being treated fairly and respectfully by society. As a plus size woman myself, I know the harsh reality that because I'm big, some people believe that I can't get what they consider a "top-notch" companion, and that no thin man would ever want to be with me.
For too much of society, “fat” is unfairly synonymous with “ugly” or "unworthy." People take it upon themselves to try and accurately measure a woman's worth or honesty by her weight, and believe that a plus size woman like Sharpton could never get an "attractive" man. Being a woman isn’t always easy, and being a plus-size woman can be especially hard when people think they can sum you up due to your weight. So let Sharpton's unfair treatment remind you that a person's trustworthiness or other traits should never be measured based on the size of his or her body.