WWE: Real vs. Reel, How Far is Too Far?

Photo Credit: WWE

In the WWE, there has been a trend among women’s wrestling for as long as it has existed, objectification and body shaming. It happens among fans—It happens among “sports writers” even, and inexplicably, it is a thing among coworkers, at times.

With all the negativity surrounding the sport, and the constant attempt to regard women’s wrestling as less than compared to the men, the assumption would be that women in the industry would band together, but this is not always the case. Letting the insecurities you have for yourself be used as satire for your character is one thing, but taking the insecurities someone has for themselves and weaponizing it to assert dominance is something that has been used far too many times. And in the passing years, there has been one particular wrestler with her own crosses to bear, using the body image of others as a negative way to respond to Kayfabe insults.

“I just feel like I appreciate my body more. I go ‘well, you know what? I’ve created a life. This is great, this is great.’ I don’t really care how it looks any more, you know what I mean? If that makes sense? I’ve always had body issues, and I was always self-conscious about showing my stomach off. And now, I’m just real proud of the function of it, of everything it can do. So I don’t know if it’s a mental thing that just turns into a physical thing. If that makes any sense?” – Becky Lynch, (Muscle and Fitness 2021)

Becky Lynch, a self-proclaimed locker room hero, has been known for many things over the years. Her inclusion as being one of the WWE’s own versions of the Four Horsewomen, being the inaugural Smackdown Women’s Champion, her rise to the top as the Man, and no one could ever forget her being one of the first women to main event WrestleMania. Her resume has been impressive thus far, no one can deny that, but with great power comes great responsibility.

As a role model to children, to women, and to some men, there are certain standards that need to be maintained even when the cameras are no longer rolling. Especially when the cameras are no longer rolling. Insults in Kayfabe that attack the opponents’ abilities, their character, and dismantle them mentally and sometimes even physically if things escalate are exciting, they’re expected, but what you do when you log into your social media sometimes leaves more of a lasting impression. And when you use social media as a form of negative reinforcement, it takes on a life of its own.

From body shaming, to injury, and slut shaming, Becky Lynch has taken social media beyond the guise of Kayfabe and feud promotion into bullying and organized targeting of her peers. What’s more disturbing than taking social media feuds too far, it the fact that a woman who has admitted body issues of her own would subject others to the scrutiny she herself was plagued with.

“I post pictures when I think my abs look good and whatever, and I’m standing in a way to where the lighting is whatever— I mean if I move that thing is going to jiggle. That’s why I don’t have my stomach on show. You know what I mean? It doesn’t matter how lean I am, I’m predisposed to being a little doughier.” – Becky Lynch, (Making Their Way to The Ring 2017)

So how does one go from victim to victimizer? It is very unclear where the shift in attitude came from. Possibly the weight of trying to maintain a position on top. It could also be the constant need to outlast her predecessors, but there has clearly been a shift. Or was it already there and because of her lack of popularity it was buried under more important headlines. The lineage of body shaming exhibited by Becky Lynch dates back as far as 2016. This is strange, considering her own interview about body issues only came out in 2017.

While this is one of the first tweets unearthed detailing the particularly unscrupulous behavior of Becky Lynch on social media, it certainly is not the last. In each feud, and sometimes just out of the blue, she hurls below the belt insults that are apparently intended to be satirical but come off as rude and insensitive.

While it is unclear what the motivation is behind the vicious cyber-attacks on her coworkers, one thing became apparent after her latest questionable twitter moment: The fans are not amused. Unlike most of her other “moments of glory” legions of fans were very vocal about Becky’s comments.

While Charlotte Flair is the latest on Becky’s list of people to personally attack on social media, many fans don’t expect her to be the last. If history has shown us anything it is that Becky’s main go to in a feud is a personal comment that has nothing to do with Kayfabe. I find it very intriguing that with all the comments and negativity surrounding the way she conducts feuds that she’s “seen” as a hero.

“… I never use cheap insults to discredit someone, make fun of someone’s appearance, or body-shame. That’s a huge, no, no to me. Even though I am the bad guy, it’s more of, I’m better than you. I never use other things to put others down.” —Charlotte Flair

While there may be more than one definition of what a hero is, there are many examples of how to create a positive Social Media environment, even in the face of a feud. Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks exchanged many blows during their feud and managed to stay on track, as did Rhea/Charlotte/Nikki A.S.H. While it is understood that tensions could run high in feuds and hurtful things could be said, it’s a common occurrence in Becky Lynch feuds. And that is something worth addressing.

“So all I’ll say is the locker room needs a hero sometimes. And sometimes somebody’s gotta be a hero. I’m all right being that hero. That’s what I’ll say on that matter.” —Becky Lynch (Sports Illustrated 2021)

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