“You’ve gained weight. You should lose some”.
“You have such a pretty face for your size”.
“Real women have curves”.
These are some of the many responses we hear which can extensively contribute towards the act of “Body-Shaming”. This is when expressing mockery or criticism about a person's body shape or size. It can incur through the means of an insult, an intentional or unintentional compliment, or even a statement of fact.
The concept of Body-Shaming has evolved over the years! For women, it has transitioned from looking slim and slender in the early days to looking more like an hour-glass at present. For men, having a built body with beefy muscles have been etched to their minds, leading them to look into workout programmes and diet routines to maintain a “healthy body”.
Fat Shaming and Skinny Shaming are two notions that take place in society at large. Whether a person has “tummy rolls” or is “flat all over”, nothing seems acceptable to some. Some travel long lengths in conversation to make individuals feel terrible about themselves physically, hence leading to psychological harm.
The hidden belief in Fat Shaming is that humiliating persons suffering from obesity will motivate them to eat less and lose weight. However, the exact opposite tends to happen. Discrimination causes stress to the victim, thereby driving them to eat further. Other harmful effects of this kind maybe depression, eating disorders and even, reduced self-esteem.
On the other hand, skinny shaming is also not okay. “You’re only bones, there’s no meat on there”, “Men want real women with curves, not sticks”- These are a few examples of skinny shaming. If we were to psychoanalyse, some pursue this as they think being thin is the “ideal body” and hence, they envy those who are. Another reason can be due to low self-esteem issues and thereby, stemming up the need to judge.
This type of body-shaming can be found especially in Elementary and/or High School and is mostly implied into bullying. Usually, students tend to behave in this manner due to insecurities of their own and/or for having to go through the same scenario in the past, so as to make themselves feel better.
At the beginning, the most popular body image which was presented to us ever since childhood is Barbie and Ken dolls; the skinny waist, high cheekbones, toned muscles were portrayed as the ideal body parts that every person should be rewarded with and maintained. One particularly famous web series named “Barbie Life In The Dreamhouse” constituted of how a slim, shapely young woman with blonde locks, blue eyes and fair skin was very much admired by everyone. However, Barbie’s known enemy, Raquelle displayed the same features with an exception of black hair and was treated differently among her peers.
Barbie’s boyfriend Ken was also presented as a good-looking boy with blonde hair and tanned skin who was equally well liked. This show was highly criticized by parents for being inappropriate as it provides a false body-image to their children, along with other negative factors.
In terms of men, Marvel and DC Fictional characters such as Superman, Batman have given out a fallacious body figure that is supposedly expected. What’s worse, many Hollywood actors/actresses and Recording Artistes have also been persuaded to develop a figure as such by following strict diet plans etc, by their record labels or talent agencies for promotional purposes.
Models, too, must follow a similar regime since being petite and willowy is recognized to be the perfect body size in their work. However, throughout the years, we’ve noticed how the Fashion Industry have incorporated curvy, well-endowed plus-size models onto the runaway as well, such as Ashley Graham. This approach has brought out a rather incredible message to the public eye and that is “All Bodies Are Beautiful”.
Everyone who has a healthy body, whether it’s on the thinner or the curvier side, is beautiful. We should know to accept all bodies in different shapes and sizes; from generously- curved to petite-waist women; from lean to well-built men.
Currently with modernization taking place, while there are many setbacks, body-shaming has taken a pleasant turn via social platforms. Social apps such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have enabled us with sharing and posting facilities to voice our inner thoughts to our followers! Even TikTok plays a major role in bringing out all kinds of women and men out in the open and trying to normalize all body types globally.
Body Positivity should be universal and widespread. Don’t forget that beauty is not measured by how our physique is structured; beauty comes from within. So love yourself irregardless what others say to you and live life according to your own rules!
You will succeed!