This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish climate activist who has organized numerous student protests in her home country, catalyzed similar efforts on a global scale, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean solo, and addressed Congress once and the United Nations twice as of this morning.
She’s also a 16-year-old girl who a lot of people know about, which means that, as she’s become the face of the Global Climate Strike, her actual face, along with her general physical appearance, has become subject to public scrutiny. Nice!
Many of the people choosing to comment on the aesthetic choices of the teen activist are the usual suspects involved in this kind of trolling. While I wouldn’t have necessarily predicted that terminally right-wing vulture and conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza would call Thunberg a Nazi for, uh, braiding her hair, the attack isn’t surprising—just disgusting.
Thunberg’s haters aren’t the only ones weighing in on her looks to cringeworthy effect. British comedian Janey Godley tweeted (and to her credit deleted and apologized for) her take on what exactly makes Thunberg infuriating: the fact that she’s not “photoshopping her thigh gap.”
Apparently, it’s tough to envision a teenage girl who enjoys "pouting" and also wants to grow up on a planet where there are more than six different kinds of animals!
As skeevy and unnecessary as the commentary surrounding Thunberg’s appearance is, one can only imagine how much worse The Discourse would be if the young person at the helm of the youth climate organizing movement was one of the persons of color displaced by climate change, hailing from somewhere like Somalia, Afghanistan, or the Philippines (because if there’s anyone whose looks people love to police more than a white teenage girl, it’s a non-white teenage girl).
Obviously, the way Thunberg looks and how others feel about that are beside the point. Obsessing over optics is just another way to avoid the real problem: The planet is on fire and we’re talking about a teenager’s aesthetic preferences.
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