It turns out that cyber-bulling isn't just for teens and tweens anymore.
Not to be outdone by nasty teens, moms and other "grownups" are now resorting to harassing online. "Bodysnarking" -- when someone posts an unflattering photo of an unsuspecting victim on their blog, then invites others to comment about how her horrible appearance. Who is doing this and why?
Bagging on celebrities has been "fair game" for years. Since they're in the public eye, many think anything goes. But talking smack about the thighs of some random woman in your exercise class or cellulite on the woman three doors down? That just feels downright cruel.
Psychologist Dr. Lisa Boesky says this is called "relational aggression"--and that it's been around for a very long time: "Women throughout history typically haven't beaten each other up -- they show their aggression by humiliating and embarrassing other women, and gossiping about each other."
But she says there are three reasons why bodysnarking is a whole new ballgame:
1. Digital photos are involved.
Almost every cell phone has a camera these days, perfect for snapping an unflattering photo when your frenemy least expects it.
2. You can tell the world.
Technology allows you to spread rumors not just to close friends or acquaintances, but to the entire world.
3. Comments can be made anonymously.
Other women are allowed to leave cruel, vicious comments without any consequences. Since no one will ever know who wrote what, the claws really come out.
Dr. Lisa says that bodysnarking makes many women feel better, especially when they're bodysnarking celebrities. "Seeing these women who are usually airbrushed and made up by a professional stylist in a more imperfect way makes typical women feel better about their own imperfections," she says.
But, whether it makes us feel good or not, Dr. Lisa feels that bodysnarking doesn't say much for the sisterhood or solidarity of women. "When women attack each other this way online, what does it say about women standing up for other women in life?" she asks. "It's a sad state of affairs if we women can't support each other. And it only seems to be getting worse."
Dr. Lisa says one way to stand against bodysnarking is by refusing to comment (or even read the comments) about negative photos online. "What feeds this beast is the comments," she says. "When people stop commenting and participating, bodysnarking will stop, too."
Do you think this is something happening with women you know?