When you hear the word “Body shaming”, the first thing you imagine is an overweight person being shamed for his/her size. This is usually by someone who doesn’t know the person. A lot of people are under the impression that only overweight people are body shamed. In reality, though, it is an issue that affects everybody.
Body-shaming manifests in many ways. Criticizing your own appearance, through a judgment or comparison to another person. Criticizing another’s appearance in front of them. Also, criticizing another’s appearance without their knowledge.
However, no matter how it manifests, it often leads to comparison and shame. Further, it perpetuates the idea that people should be judged mainly for their physical features.
Yesterday, I went out shopping with a friend who is a size 00. One of the women in the market tapped her on the shoulder. She began to give a lecture on how she looks sickly and will not attract any man until she gained some weight. She actually said to my friend that she looked like a bag of bones. The woman also asked: “Do you even eat?”
Although my friend laughed it off and did not seem fazed by it all, I found it quite offensive. I feel like telling someone that they look like they have an eating disorder is not something that you should be throwing around or joking to people about.
Besides, what if there is an underlying illness that my friend was dealing with? Especially unknown to the woman that caused her to gain or lose weight? What if she is struggling with depression?
Such rude remarks would end up hurting her and doing more mental damage. It is a terrible thing to be shamed because your body does not fit some preposterous ideal.
Shame can impact negatively on your wellbeing and self-esteem. It tells us that ‘we are bad’. That we should feel embarrassed of ourselves or a unique factor we might possess. That people have the right to judge us.
No doubt, we live in a body-conscious world. Everyone talks about their body size and weight. Whether they are discussing how much weight they put on or how much weight they or are trying to lose on a new trendy diet/cleanse, the conversation over weight seems to be an unending trend.
More so, with the advent of social media and the ability to pass comments on people you hardly know. It is easier for people to hide behind a facade online and say terrible things. Or ‘like’ awful comments, than it is to face somebody unknown and say something mean about their body
The thing though is that we are all different individuals. We come in all shapes and sizes. No two of us are exactly the same. There need not necessarily be a reason for the way anybody looks.
Indeed, we are not really answerable to anyone. So what should we do when our beautiful loved one’s body-shame themselves or others?
The first thing to do when you find yourself a victim of body shaming is to remind yourself that the shaming, cruel things another person says is about their own prejudices and misconceptions. Indeed, you must bear in mind that they are not about who you are as a person.
Body shaming is usually evident and intentional, besides being just really mean. But more than anything, it is and has always been, personal.
Though the intention is to make you feel terrible about yourself, you don’t have to absorb the words or take them seriously. If you’re mentally and emotionally strong enough to defend yourself or another person from being body shamed, you should. But if you can’t, it doesn’t mean you are weak or anything remotely like that.
Depending on your life situations, circumstances, and past experiences, you simply might not just have the confidence to stand up for ourselves. On the other hand, If you feel that rage bubbling up inside of you, there’s probably a good reason for it. Don’t be afraid to express it.
Body shaming should spark anger. But then again, anger expressed directly at the cause of the anger, in the heat of the moment, is rarely productive.
Bottom line, if you’re the one being body-shamed, don’t let the haters get you down. Certainly, pressure to conform to our society’s beauty standards infiltrates us, often in subtle ways.
But you must remember that you are brave. You are strong. You are beautiful, and how you feel about yourself is all that matters. Remind yourself that you are more than just your bodies.
That way, you can begin to let go of some of the pressures.