Zendaya Just Boldly Pointed out That Eating Disorders Are No Joke

March 14th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Eating disorders are no laughing matter; that's the lesson that comedian Julie Klausner learned this weekend after tweeting a series of snarky jokes about teen star Zendaya's body

After Zendaya took home the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for favorite female TV star on Saturday, Klausner jokingly accused the teen star of having an eating disorder.

Zendaya fired back at Klausner's accusation by saying she was setting a bad example for young girls:

Klausner's initial dig referenced an earlier controversy between Zendaya and Giuliana Rancic, who made a comment about the actress and singer's dreadlocks on "Fashion Police" that many viewers interpreted as racially insensitive. Klausner joked that the teen star responded to Rancic's criticism by starving herself:

Klausner also suggested that Zendaya was encouraging young women to have eating disorders in a cutting tweet, comparing her appearance to "thinspo"—pictures of celebrities shared on pro-eating disorder online communities to encourage extreme weight loss.

The "Difficult People" creator expressed concern that young stars were sending dangerous messages about body image in yet another snarky tweet:

Zendaya wasn't amused by Klausner's quips, and sharply pointed out that eating disorders are no joke on Twitter:

She also addressed the importance of setting a positive example for young fans in her acceptance speech. "To all the parents out there, thank you for allowing me to be a role model for your children. I really, really do not take that for granted," Zendaya explained.

The backlash

Klausner stood by her beef with Zendaya, who she accused of promoting damaging body image standards "for a generation of girls who grow up thinking they're fat" and insisted that she wasn't concerned with teen star, but rather the viewers she might influence.

Klausner maintained that she was coming from a place of concern, but her tweets took on a condescending tone when she addressed the star and her young fans, sarcastically remarking on "how smart" their retorts were rather than addressing them earnestly.

Despite her insistence that she was looking out for young women's best interests, Klausner launched yet another personal attack when a fan referenced Zendaya's HIV/AIDs advocacy. The comedian made a cruel joke comparing Zendaya's physique to that of recently deceased first lady Nancy Reagan, referencing the Reagan White House's denial and mishandling of the epidemic.

Thin-shaming is body-shaming.

Thin women, as well as plus-size and overweight ones, can face body-shaming in the public sphere. This is particularly damaging when comments make light of eating disorders.

Spanish model Blanca Padilla spoke out about thin-shaming on a Spanish TV show in October 2015. "Sometimes people don't understand that it's as offensive to criticize someone for being underweight as it is for being overweight, especially when your job revolves around your image," Padilla said.

Instagram model Sjana Earp also spoke out against commenters who criticized her thin physique on Instagram:

"[M]y value is not found in my appearance, but rather the ability to see through [someone's] exterior and understand their true worth is found in their character, their personality, their optimism, their resilience, their strength, their determination, their values, the way they see the world. To me, that is beautiful. Not being a certain weight, size or body shape. Just because i have a very slender frame does this mean I should shame my own body and others that are."

As ATTN: has previously reported, around 30 million people suffer from eating disorders, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness.

[H/T Refinery 29]