Body Shaming: What Is It and What to do to stop it?
Are you ashamed of your body?
Did you ever stop and think about how often we are told to change our appearance? Ashamed of being too fat or too thin. Ashamed of our muffin tops, bingo wings, love handles, or flat bums. Ashamed of our bumpy, big, fat, and pointy noses. Ashamed of our cellulite, large pores, wrinkles, freckles, birthmarks, age spots, or pimples. But why?
What is Body Shaming?
“We are our own worst critic” is often a phrase we use to describe when we, as individuals, are too hard on ourselves. For most people, it is a natural tendency to always be better, faster and stronger however this craze for becoming better can result in severe mental health consequences, especially when it comes to our physical appearances.
The media has commonly portrayed overweight characters as the running joke of the show, resulting in “fat jokes” and a severe manifestation of self-doubt known as body shaming.
Magazines constantly offer tips about how to lose weight “in days,” appear slimmer “instantly,” and hide our “imperfections”… without actually knowing anything about us, much less our appearance. This is one example of body-shaming, and it is everywhere. It has become the norm to criticize aspects of our bodies as some type of bonding experience with friends – if we all hate our bodies; it somehow makes us feel connected and united.
Body shaming is known as the action or practice of expressing humiliation about another individual’s body shape or size; a form of bullying that can result in severe emotional trauma, especially at a young age. Body shaming is done by parents, siblings, friends, enemies, and schoolmates and is often portrayed in the media.
Messages from the media and from one another often imply that we should want to change, that we should care about looking slimmer, smaller, and tanner.
“Why is she wearing that? It is not flattering at all.” Or “I am so ugly compared to her I will never find a date” are common thoughts and phrases used, that are examples of body shaming.
Body shaming manifests in many ways:
- Your own appearance, through a judgment or comparison to another person.
- Other’s appearance in front of them
- Other’s appearance without their knowledge.
No matter how this manifests, it often leads to comparison and shame, and perpetuates the idea that people should be judged mainly for their physical features.
Sadly, body shaming occurs among both men and women of all different shapes and body sizes. Body shaming has included both criticisms of being “too fat”, or “too skinny”, often picking on flaws that are completely irrelevant.
Why do we think it’s OK to say negative things about appearance?
Negative comments and provoking images can drive young girls to engage in unhealthy behaviors in order to change their body type to conform to the norms of society. This may lead to self-injury or cutting, binging and purging behaviors or even full-fledged eating disorders.
Individuals with a history of trauma, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, or borderline personality disorder are more likely to be affected by body shaming and potentially develop an eating disorder or engage in self-harm behavior.
What does body positivity mean to you?
Body positivity means equal stature given to all body types. It means social acceptance of all – fat, slim, short, tall, white, black and seeing the personality over the physique.
There are multiple incidents that make you feel that body shaming is a subconscious act and the most alarming way in which it is done is in the form of jokes!
All this led to the movement – making people realize that joking on someone’s body is not cool! Body shaming has serious impacts on the mental and physical health of the victim.
What to do!
Maybe we have victims that gag and make us want to hide , but perhaps we have been part of those that laughed , or even worse , said something mean to begin with.
Whoever we have been it’s never too late to change. Here are some tips to follow that I personally follow to deal with body shaming.
Nothing else matters
What you is see is what you get. Look in the mirror and be happy with what you see. Your opinion of yourself is the only opinion that counts. Everything else doesn’t really matter.
Know when to walk way
If the conversation you’re involved in doesn’t make you feel good, leave. Walk away from anyone who doesn’t bring positivity to your life. Life is too short to spend dwelling on comments passed by people who shouldn’t matter.
Inspire others to have the guts you do. Tell people off for saying things they don’t need to and reassure others to dress exactly the way they want to, irrespective of what anybody else thinks.
There is more than enough nastiness in the world to spread around twice over. Spread some empathy instead. Everybody is living with something they can’t tell you about, everybody has a story. Talk to them. Discuss why it bothers you and help them see how it may also be hurtful to them.
No more jokes please!
More often than not, it’s usually people closer to us, our best friends and family, who tend to think that these jokes are the funniest.
Sure, it’s always good to have a sense of humor. But there is always a line that should not be crossed. If the other person is not comfortable with jokes
Then no more jokes please!
The fascinating thing about humanity is that we all are different individuals. We come in all shapes and sizes, and no two of us are exactly the same. Some of us are ‘underweight’ while others are ‘overweight’ but why we look is the way we do is quite frankly no body else’s business. We have no right to comment or mock on anyone’s appearance.
Find something (or things!) you LIKE about your body.
We spend so much time witnessing advertisements about how to make our eyelashes millimetres longer and how to get whiter teeth that it’d be nice to counter some of that by celebrating what we do have. Maybe, despite your body image struggles, you love a new hairstyle you discovered. Maybe you’ve noticed how much stronger you feel with balanced eating. Find something physical or nonphysical that makes you “YOU” and celebrate it every day.
Like with any other from of bullying, body shaming will always be present unless you stick up for yourself in a positive and healthy way. It is important to practice self-love and try to not let negative comments bother you.
Furthermore if you witness body shaming on social media you can report it and flag it for inappropriate content.
Additionally you can create a petition against body shaming, write a body positive post or blog, call out the body-snarkers by taking a screenshot and engaging with strong and positive people. Keep in mind that entering a negative cycle of comments does not do any good in this situation. Take control and stay positive.
And always remember,
“You are amazing just the way you are”
If you ‘re afraid people’s opinion about you, Read this: Fear of Judgement