The reaction to Megan Pustetto’s recent photo reveals how Aussie women are treated if they dare to gain weight.
Pustetto, 31, runs the successful podcast So Dramaticand website, where she is an endless source of all reality television gossip, truth and breaking news.
She’s become a one-woman force in the Australian media and managed to carve out her own path and build a loyal following.
The media ‘it’ girl has also recently gained weight, which is treated as a crime if you’re a woman.
Pustetto told news.com.authat it wouldn’t be more than a “couple of kilos”, and she’s gone up maybe a dress size.
It’s a change that hasn’t escaped the notice of trolls, who took a stunning photo of Pustetto alongside influencer Booka and former Married At First Sight star Lyndall Grace and turned it into a body-shaming nightmare.
The podcaster looked gorgeous in a figure-hugging two-piece, and yet the post was inundated with people commenting on her body.
Some trolls were direct and claimed she looked “fat” and “old”. Yes, a woman in her thirties is apparently old now.
Others just gleefully pointed out she’d gained weight, and some people tried to be abstract in their insults, commenting things like “what happened?” or claiming she looked “different”.
One wrote that she looked “bloated”, and one callous remark said she looked like a “whale”.
There were so many horrible comments that Pustetto had enough content to create a series on her Instagram Stories, where she tried to tackle the cruelty head-on and call it out.
In the photo where Pustetto’s body was mocked, she was wearing a size small, and she’s a standard Australian size 10.
This isn’t to say that if she were a larger size, that would make the fat-shaming comments somehow truer, but it goes to show that no matter how small you are as a woman, it is simply never enough.
Pustetto, to a certain extent, is used to this kind of scrutiny. She’s learned to live with comments about her looks and name-calling; she explained that she has a “thick skin”, but she’s clocked that men who report on influencers and reality television stars don’t face the same kind of “backlash” that she does.
The podcaster describes it as “unfair” but it is also more than that.
It is sexist, exhausting and often a little bit scary to see how quickly people want to taunt a successful woman.
She explained that she knows she’s put on weight, but she never thought it’d be enough for people to comment on it and yet they did cruelly and in droves.
The cruel remarks about her body are now lingering in her brain, at least to a certain extent; she explained that the women next to her are what she defines as “smaller” and probably only a size 6 or 8.
“I’m aware that I’m bigger than I have been in the past, and I still look okay, and I’m definitely not fat,” she explained.
Even though Pustetto is used to this kind of ridicule, the comments about her weight had her seeking comfort from her mates to confirm she didn’t look extremely different.
“I can laugh about stuff, but yes, I was upset by it, and I did start to message my friends and ask, ‘Do I look different? Have I put on weight? It does affect you on some level.”
On an intellectual level, she knows what people are saying online is ultimately nonsense, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
“What world do we live in where someone wearing a size small is considered fat?” she asked.
It makes her worry for other women; if she has to face it at her size, how on earth do plus-size women get treated online?
Pustetto has noticed the comments about her weight seem to have amped up since the trend of heroin chic has returned.
2023 has been the year of celebrities shrinking, and Pustetto said that when the curvy Kim Kardashian body type was in, it made her feel more confident. But now that body type is less on trend, she’s being shamed again.
Yet when she’s spoken to other women about it, they’ve shared they’ve been trolled for being too skinny.
“You’re either too skinny or too fat,” she said.
Psychologist Carly Dober said women being body-shamed are impacted in multiple ways and it can be very serious.
“The emotional impacts include guilt, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and feeling excluded and unwanted. The psychological impacts include either triggering or exacerbating instances of anxiety, depression, disordered eating behaviours, self-medicating and self-harm behaviours,” she warned.
Dober said that body-shaming needs to be taken seriously because the impacts on women are huge.
“Their close relationships may suffer; they also may struggle to sleep and may engage in harmful binging and or purging behaviours in an attempt to self-soothe and to control their appearance. They may start to hate themselves, and this can be very difficult to shift,” she said.