Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
While the world was watching, experiencing, and commenting on everything that happened at the Oscars, I was stuck in an accident while driving back from a holiday with my family. But thanks to technology, I was able to catch up on all that I missed. As I was getting my toddler ready for school the following day, I started roaming social media for the Oscars. I wanted to know everything, form winners to the fashion as well as all the drama.
As a long-standing Will Smith fan, I was so shocked when I heard that he slapped comedian and Oscars host Chris Rock after Chris Rock made a comment about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair or lack thereof. The confusion was mostly around the fact that Jada had previously explained that she had to cut her hair due to a medical condition. And while everyone and their aunty had something to say about it all, including whether or not Chris Rock knew about her medical condition, I can’t help but feel sorry for all those involved because it must have been a triggering situation that happened in front of millions of people from all over the world.
But with that being said, one of my biggest takeaways from the whole thing is how much we need to stop commenting on people’s looks. We seriously need to stop body shaming people. It seems like we have so many preconceived ideas of people based on how they look and that really needs to stop. If the passing of late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman taught me anything, it is that we don’t know what people are going through. And making fun of someone’s looks is not ok, as was evident with Boseman, who, after his passing, we learnt that he had long been suffering in silence with cancer, which was one of the reasons he had lost so much weight leading to his passing, which was something that comedians and strangers alike made fun of him for.
When it comes to health issues, I can tell you first-hand that anyone making a joke about my health is a big no-no. It is highly unacceptable. While I often speak about and even joke about my statues, it has been a long road getting here. And sometimes, I still find myself triggered when someone makes light of my statues. And if such a joke was directed at me in front of millions of people on an international platform, it would honestly take a while for me to recover from such an event.
All this to say, while I am never one to condone violence, we need to acknowledge that what happened to the Smiths was also violent. It may have not been as evident as a slap to the face, but it definitely triggered and touched something from their reactions. I think we should not take sides at this point, I think we should rather take lessons and hope for healing and reconciliation. Another more practical lesson I think we should take from all of this is that jokes, comments and side remarks about health-related issues that are none of our concern are NEVER ok.