Taylor Swift threw her annual, star-studded Fourth of July party over the weekend, complete with endless Instagram photos from the celebs in attendance to prove it definitely happened and it was definitely more fun than your BBQ. However, the Internet also exploded with fireworks that were not at all Independence Day–related.
The controversial question: “Did Taylor get breast implants?” Lots of Twitter users thought “yes,” and were subsequently shaming the singer for it.
Some comments were body-positive and acknowledged the reality of T. Swift’s personal body choices: “Can’t work out if Taylor Swift has had a boob job or not. But if so who cares?! If she was unhappy with how they looked then I’m all for it!” one user chimed in.
Others didn’t exactly agree with this sentiment. “And did Taylor Swift really think we wouldn’t notice her boob job? Come on tswift. Looks like it’s stuck to your ribs,” said one person. “Taylor Swift’s boob job being this obvious is a bigger deal than her contract w Tom Hiddleston,” wrote another user. “Taylor Swift getting a boob job couldn’t be a more accurate representation of how fake she really is. #gross,” critiqued someone else.
This isn’t the first time a celeb has gotten caught in the plastic surgery rumor mill of late. In late 2014, Renee Zellweger emerged at an ELLE magazine event with a noticeably changed appearance. The online buzz was not kind. With a statement to People, the actress chose to clap back at the Internet’s comments from a place of personal positivity: “I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she said, calling the buzz “silly.”
Zellweger said her friends claim she’s more peaceful, and she’s worked on becoming a healthier version of herself. “For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that,” she said. “I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself…I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.”
When the Internet accused Uma Thurman of having had plastic surgery in 2015, and a drastically altered face, she basically laughed it off when she talked to Today’s Savannah Guthrie. “I guess nobody liked my makeup,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for years and years and years, and people say things nice and they say things mean, and just like whatever. You take the good with the bad.”
According to Karla Ivankovich, PhD, an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield, we spend “an inordinate amount of time dwelling on the appearance of others,” celebrities included. Some of that energy will end up manifesting itself in toxic ways.
The psychological impact cuts both ways. “It is not unusual to see those who are not comfortable with their own body image shaming or attacking others,” Ivankovich tells Yahoo Beauty. “With social media, we are witnessing body-image bullying and shaming to a degree we have never seen before. We have suddenly ruled ourselves judge and jury for others’ bodies. This is not only toxic, it is shameful.”
Ivankovich says that when we critique others for personal decisions about their appearance, we’re not only hurting the subject of the attacks, but we’re also creating an unmeetable standard for ourselves and other women.
As far as plastic surgery goes, Ivankovich says it is always a deeply personal decision to make that sort of change — not so different from healthy eating or exercising. “While plastic surgery may be a more extreme version, the end result is really no different,” she explains. “You’re making changes to feel more comfortable in your own skin. The issue is that there is still stigma surrounding plastic surgery, so the more people who are open about it, the better.” If more celebrities speak out about their choices, Ivankovich does note that it may help turn the tides of secrecy.
We’ll have to wait for any comment from Swift, who may or may not speak out about the speculation. In the meantime, it’s wise to watch our online words. “If social media communications weren’t so prevalent, then we would not be discussing ‘did she or didn’t she,’” Ivankovich says. “This happens because social media gives everyone a voice.”
We just have to be mindful of how we use that voice. It’s best to perpetuate body positivity, and not place too much emphasis on wild standards of beauty, or the personal decisions of others.