Body Shaming – What is it and What can be done about it?
Have you ever been criticized for your appearance?
Perhaps it was about your size, face, skin color or anything about your physical self – if yes, then you may have suffered body shaming.
Body shaming is a growing social problem in our society especially with the overbearing influence of social media. Often, fat-shaming of plus size ladies or men is commonly used as ready joking tool for comedians.
The consequence of body shaming can be far-reaching; loss of self-esteem, development of eating disorders, mental – depression and even suicidal thoughts.
Why it occurs
1. Mistaken family member and friends
But why do people body shame others? Surprisingly a lot of times, people body shame others with their words and actions without intending to do so.
Take Judy, for example, a beautiful 19 years old lady with 2 cm port-wine stain on her left brow. Many times, friends and family members have teased her about it and others have even suggested that she gets a plastic surgery to correct that facial feature. This has only made Judy always so sad.
Body shaming need not be outright criticism but even a non-acceptance of someone’s natural appearance is as bad. Some have justified that body shaming someone can motivate him or her to adopt a healthier lifestyle toward having an ideal body size or shape. But experience and research have shown that this usually produces the opposite effect, what works most time is love, care and support.
2. Cultural stereotypes
Believe systems in various cultures could lead to body shaming. There are peculiarities of what is normal and what is not…and they vary from place to place. Someone who looks or acts different than is generally accepted in a particular locality may be viewed with disdain. In that same way, individuals that appear in certain ways that challenge the cultural norms may become object of strong criticism.
3. Peer pressure
This may be the most important cause of body shaming, sometimes just being any size is a problem and people are shamed either as being too fat or too thin. Desiring to be accepted by your peers is a normal feeling but it sometimes comes with a prize – a struggle to fit into some set physical appearance pattern. Some teenagers have been tipped over into body dysmorphic disorder, as a result of peer pressure.
What you can do
You must begin to appreciate the unique you, you are not subject to anyone’s judgment, redefine yourself and let people know who you are naturally. Focus on your inner worth, and your inner light shine through. Why do you have to change your endowment?
Accept positive body image
The greatest happiness comes from inside you, brighten your outlook.
Life is too precious to be spent living for people’s approval.
Avoid negative thinking just because of your facial appearance and body size.
You have to come to terms that not everyone would like your photo on social media. Cyber bullying is fast becoming an epidemic so instead of wishing away your worries, rise up to it. See it as a challenge that can be surmounted and focus on a great many people who admire your smile and say nice things to you always.
Role of parents
Parents have a great role to play in helping children and teenagers who may suffer body shaming. Our kids were not born to hate their bodies, they were taught to do so. As parents, we do well to encourage our kids to be positive, self-confident and bold. They should be taught to see the brighter side of life and not be obsessed by the image of models promoted in the media. There can never be too much love in assisting young ones to take practical steps such as being self-confident and speaking up in the face of any form of bullying and body shaming.
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