I’m not a Dave Meltzer listener, I don’t give his opinion any more weight than my cat’s (actually, the cat’s opinion has more weight), and I find his treatment of various wrestling promotions eye-rolling, but he does have a large audience that puts a lot of stock in his opinions, which is why his comment about liking Peyton Royce more in NXT because she was ‘lighter’ caused a firestorm of complaints. Many WWE superstars, past and present, came to Peyton’s defense and blasted Meltzer for his comments. Meltzer apologized, but his apology seemed to be more a ‘I’m sorry people are mad’ than an ‘I’m sorry for what I said’. In fact, Meltzer tried to deflect the blame, but many fans are still angry, as they should be.
On Thursday, he again tried to deflect blame by saying that he’d been talking about Peyton getting breast implants, as if making it about her making a decision about her body and not about her weight solved everything. Many Meltzer supporters latched on to this as ‘proof’ that he wasn’t body shaming her and that Peyton should acknowledge it and apologize, which ignores the fact that Meltzer is STILL body shaming her, just not about her weight.
Meltzer’s comments aren’t anything new. In doing some research (and being blessed with awesome people on my TL who know where to find this stuff). He has referred to former Women’s Champion, Sable, as looking like a ‘run down stripper’ at a time when Sable was one of the most popular women in WWF in the 1990s. He also implied that Bayley was starting to look too old for her gimmick.
The fact that Meltzer felt that ‘clarifying’ his comments by saying that he’d merely meant that he’d liked Peyton better before she’d gotten a boob job and not because she’d put on weight would make his comments less offensive and that many of his fans are agreeing with him shows how little people really understand body shaming. Making it about a GROWN woman making an informed decision about changing something about her body she isn’t happy with, instead of her putting on a few pounds, doesn’t make it better, in fact it makes it worse, and not just for female fans.
It is no secret that women face huge amounts of pressure to conform to body ideals (whatever those happen to be). Even women who claim that they don’t care (Like myself) often feel pressured to conform, and sometimes find ourselves going along with it. However it should also be pointed out that men often face the same pressure. Talking with another contributor for Chairshot about this, he told me that he’d stopped taking his shirt off because he’d been body shamed for being ‘too skinny’ instead of being muscular, like the male ideal is supposed to be.
So why do Meltzer’s comments matter? They matter because they still show that even this age of growing body positivity, that people still think its appropriate to publicly body shame women for making decisions about their bodies. That Meltzer has a large fanbase who think he is the supreme fount of wrestling knowledge makes the situation worse. Wrestlers already have to deal with negative fans and trolls without someone adding fuel to the fire. Meltzer talked about everyone learning from this, let’s hope the one learning was him.