Body shaming is, unfortunately, a common form of bullying. It can be manifested by either criticising your own body and appearance through judgment or comparison. Also, it expressed when criticising another person’s body and appearance with or without their knowledge. The scope of body shaming is broad and can include, but is not limited to, fat-shaming, thin-shaming and height-shaming. It also includes shaming for and lack of hairiness, body shape, facial features, and many other things. Regardless of the type of body shaming and how it is manifested, it results in severe emotional trauma. It causes low self-esteem, eating disorders, anxiety, body dysmorphia, self-harm and depression.
People’s opinions on another person’s body have been increased. In this new age of high social media usage, “having an ideal body” has been normalised. If one is not careful, they can easily fall into the web of social media expectations. Additionally, if you are not comfortable with your physical appearance, these remarks can be very damaging.
Most times, however, we are our worst critics. We tend to unconsciously body shame ourselves, sometimes even more than others do. We get so caught up in social media and try to keep up with society’s beauty standards. Societal standards of the “perfect” body stem from what is most times shown on social media. In many magazines and advertisements, we are only shown the “perfect” models— “hourglass” figure, clear skin and silk pressed hair.
As women, sometimes feel as though our stomachs should have little to no fat and thin waists. Our legs and thighs should be toned and free of cellulite. While our faces should be free of blemishes for us to be deemed as attractive according to the social scale. On the other hand, some men feel as though they have to be muscular to keep up with society’s standards of what a man “should” look like. Body shaming is also perpetuated in movies, commercials and many other programs.
My Experience with Body Shaming
As a teenager, I have dealt with body shaming from my family members and peers. I am always being told that I am too “chubby” and that I need to lose weight. At first, it negatively affected my self-esteem and caused me to no longer like my appearance. However, I have developed strong resistance to their remarks. My self-esteem has improved and I have grown to love and appreciate every part of my body. I no longer want to live up to their expectations of what I “should or should not” look like.
I believe that all body types, shapes and sizes are beautiful. Body positivity should be practised by everyone- towards themselves and others. People should not be judged by their physical features. With the normalization of body shaming, you must practice body appreciation. Start by loving yourself, refrain from comparing yourself to others and stand up for yourself and those who are being body-shamed. Surround yourself with people and things that are good for you.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” — Thich Nhat Hanh