Society in this day and age focus so much on looks and how women should dress and present themselves. Do you ever stop to give a thought about how many times we are told to change our looks or appearances in magazines, TV, or any outlet of social media?
They constantly offer tips on how to lose weight “in so days”, appear slimmer “instantly”, get that curvy body “overnight” and hide our imperfections without actually knowing anything about us, much less our appearance. This is one example of body shaming, that can be found everywhere.
When you judge someone by their appearance, it doesn’t define them, it defines you.Steve Maraboli
Body shaming is the same as bullying, whether it be in person, or online. It is the act or practice of negatively judging someone based on their typical appearance. Typically, people are body shamed when they appear overweight/underweight or don’t fit into society’s view of “thin and beautiful”. Our culture loves the ideology of a perfect body, whether it be in print, movies, television, or online. Seeing someone who doesn’t fit the mold is unacceptable to some. This needs to stop.
Body-shaming can manifest in many ways:
1) Criticizing your appearance through judgment or comparison to another person. (e.g “I’m so ugly compared to her” “Look at how big my legs are.”)
2) Criticizing another person’s appearance in front of them, (e.g “With those thighs you’re never going to find a man.”)
3) Criticizing another person’s appearance without their knowledge. (i.e.: “Did you see what she wore today?” At least you don’t look like her!”)
No matter how this manifests, it often leads to comparison and shame and perpetuates the idea that people should be judged mainly because of their physical features. Making someone feel ashamed of their body won’t motivate them to lose or gain weight. On the contrary – it will produce a boomerang effect. There is no middle ground with body shaming and this needs to stop!
We are witnesses to body shaming on social media. Most contents suggest that you are far from the slim magazine cover type. Going by the perspective of social media, you are always going to be either too skinny, chubby, too hairy, or busty.
Sadly, a great deal of us gets the message we are never going to be accepted, desirable, or beautiful. If you don’t fit into the mold, you are going to become an object of verbal abuse and cyber-bullying. Being aware of the harmful effects this is causing will make you never, ever scoff at anyone for the way they look again and help you accept yourself just the way you are, for the sake of your mental health.
Effects of Body-Shaming
1- A total crush of Self-Esteem and Confidence
Most obese people experience verbal abuse due to their physical appearance. People mock their food choices, habits, lifestyles, etc. Listening to hurtful words about oneself can feed the self-hatred obese people feel already. On the other hand, we can apply this to anorexic people, too. Patters are the same, as well as the responses.
You are perfect exactly you are. With all your flaws and problems, there’s no need to change anything. All you need to change is the thought that you have to change.Anonymous
Thinking negative comments about one’s physical appearance would end once this person makes a change is completely wrong, instead the opposite is the reality. A list of attributes one has to meet to be perfect is endless. Spinning in this circle makes you feel like you are never enough. The more you try, the more your flaws come to the forefront, crushes one’s confidence to the point that it’s almost impossible to regain.
No matter what you do, you are never going to meet everyone’s expectations. Yet, even if you would be able to, is it worth it?
2- Poorer Health
Weight discrimination and body shaming can cause stress, which further leads to gaining/losing weight. Yet, more importantly, massive weight loss or gain can trigger other health issues mostly Chronic Diseases.
Increased cortisol levels, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, cardiac conditions, and myocardial infection are just a few risk people going through stress due to body shaming are exposed to. We live in a hectic world where is a daily occurrence. Any additional trigger can worsen our condition, especially with people that are already facing verbal abuse.
These conditions can only get worse under the pressure of unrealistic, cruel beauty standards and body shaming on social media.
3- Denying Oneself leads to Mental Illness
You have people struggling with exercise bulimia (excessive, compulsive exercising that negatively affects their health) and anorexia, eating disorders that have to do a lot with one’s mental health. Body shaming a person who deals with these conditions may cause them to feel worse about themselves.
Treating a person with exercise bulimia convicting that’s just an extremely rude act towards someone who is coping with a disease that has taken over their body and mind. Anorexia nervosa is an already life-threatening condition as it is, so why would anyone contribute to making this person feel even worse?
Bullying contributes to sticking to unhealthy behaviors even more. In some cases it makes the person think they have little to no control over their body or life.
On the other hand, there is a BED – Binge Eating. It is characterized by eating lots of food in a short time even if a person doesn’t feel the urge to eat. The major trigger to BED is emotional stress, one tries to suffocate by eating uncontrollably.
Yet, what follows is even worse. One can feel ashamed, lost as they have no control over themselves, similar to what happens with exercise bulimia.
Why Body-Shaming Needs to Stop
1. Discouragement: It is not a way of expressing concern or encouragement. It is most often judgmental health advice.
2. Stress and denial: Studies show in the last couple of years proved the constant mention of one’s physical appearance causes
3. Accepting other peoples’ choices: Everyone has the right to live a life they want without being humiliated about their choices on their body image.
4. Imperfection: There is no such thing as being perfect. There is no such thing as an ideal body or ideal weight. No one is perfect.
Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.Deborah Day
5. Discomfort: Body shamers aren’t comfortable in their skin either and thus feel the need to make others uncomfortable about theirs also.
6. Depression: Discriminating against anyone due to their weight can cause depression (especially with people with severe obesity) and trigger a whole list of mental issues. What is more, obese people are up to 12 times more likely to commit suicide and 21 times more prone to suicidal behavior than other categories.
Shaming someone based on their healthy/unhealthy choices is unacceptable. We can never know what someone is going through, thus we should not judge but offer compassion. Perfection is simply unattainable and is only an attribute of God. We are all imperfect in some ways. What therefore gives us the right to make comments on how people look?
After all, doing so speaks for our insecurities. Body shaming needs to stop, now! Let’s try to be more comfortable, in peace with our bodies, and show more kindness towards each other. Allow yourselves to let you guards down and embrace yourself and other people regardless of shape and size. Remember, you are beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You are imperfect, permanently, and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.Amy Bloom