TW: Be advised we talk about body shaming, eating disorders, depression, and suicide.
There is so much stigma and stereotypes around our bodies. It's so crazy how we perceive our bodies and other people's bodies. Putting it in light and understanding the stigma and stereotypes will help us gain more knowledge, stop body shaming, and help others. Everyone, especially teens, struggles with this so much; it's unbelievable.
What Is Body Shaming?
To start, let's define body shaming. Body shaming is the action of mocking or stigmatizing someone by making harsh comments about the shape, size, or appearance of their body. It's crazy to think that this is a real thing.
Body shaming has been around for so long that it seems normal to everyone, but it shouldn't be. Media, magazines, flyers, articles, etc., perceive this idea that women and men should look a certain way. Women should be short or medium height, thin, and sexy. Men should be tall, lean, muscular, and very good-looking. But this is not always the case. Media, magazines, etc., have done this for years, body shaming anyone who doesn't look at what their models look like.
Body shaming is everywhere: online, in school, on the streets, etc. You can't get away from it. People make jokes about it.
People bully others about it. It is everywhere. It has become normal to criticize ourselves and others in a way that we feel connected now. It's good to feel connected, but not in this way. Body shaming leads to so many things: criticism, bullying, depression, eating disorders, and even maybe suicide. It's a vicious cycle that sometimes may never end. Looking at the media, magazines, flyers, etc., implies how we should look, which isn't ok. Nobody should tell us what to wear or how to look but ourselves. What is said is that we should be slimmer, tanner, muscular, hot, pretty, etc.
Why Is Body Shaming So Common?
It doesn't make sense why there is so much body shaming. So many people are perceived to look a certain way to the point where people try to change their appearance. It's so bad that people not only judge themselves, but they judge others.
I feel that some people feel bad about themselves due to how they should look, so they turn to others who also don't look the same and make fun of them because they are too insecure about themselves. Being insecure can take a toll on people and put them in a really bad place. Whether that be shaming yourself to the degree that you become depressed or shaming someone else to the degree that they become depressed.
Either way, it's highly inappropriate. I believe society has taught us to judge no matter how someone looks. Say someone is more muscular than you, and you then judge yourself, or you turn around after judging yourself to judge them because they are too fit.
We also may feel intimidated by someone, so we criticize that person to make us feel better about ourselves. It's just like bullying; there is usually something that has happened or is happening to the bully that makes them want to bully others. Most of the time, there is an explanation or a reason behind someone's actions. Rarely, there is not. Also, instead of admitting that we feel bad about ourselves, we just turn to what we know, judging others. Although we do this so often, it is uncalled for. Body shaming is so common for so many different reasons, but that doesn't make it ok to do.
How Do We Challenge Body Shaming?
Instead of body shaming and figuring out why we're doing it and speaking our truth, we should be understanding body shaming, which is a great baby step in the right direction.
There are many ways to challenge body shaming.
One would be to find out what the problem is. You're not going to be upset necessarily at the friend who has the "perfect" body but mad at yourself even though there is no reason to be. There is no such thing as the perfect body. If someone tells you there is, then they're lying.
Two, flip that negativity. Think of all the good things about your body instead of the bad. Such as the toned muscles in your arms, not that they are too big.
Not that your nose is larger than most, but that you have the most gorgeous blue eyes. Things like that, see the good, not the bad. Even in reality, the "bad" isn't bad. It's just different.
Third, confront others. Once you've overcome your body shaming, ensure others notice they are doing the same thing. Let them know that it's not ok and that they can make a change to start loving their body.
Lastly, four, educate others. Like three, make sure others stop body shaming themselves. Make sure others stop body shaming others. Make sure people understand that everyone is different and that difference is beautiful.
Body shaming has so many effects due to its hardships. Body shaming can cause depression, eating disorders, anxiety, suicide, etc. With so much body shaming from one person to another, it can lead to bullying.
The constant nacking, comments, etc., can push people to the edge. This can lead to depression. Depression is a huge mental illness that can affect anyone from anything. With depression, as the shaming goes on, it takes a toll on someone. Some people may turn around their life and do something about body shaming, others may turn around and starve themselves, and some people may be pushed way over the edge with body shaming and bullying that they take their own life.
Eating disorders also include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant food intake disorder.
Anorexia can be a life-threatening eating disorder that limits how much you eat to the point where you barely eat to maintain a "healthy" body weight.
Bulimia can also be a life-threatening eating disorder. Bulimia is when someone eats and then pukes up what they ate.
Binge eating disorder is when eating food in a short amount of time. After eating, a lot of people feel guilt, disgust, or shame.
Avoidant food intake disorder is when you restrict the type of food or how much food you eat.
If someone feels as if they are overweight, they may choose to starve themselves to become skinnier, but in all, that doesn't always help; sometimes, you can gain more weight. The effects of body shaming will help nothing.
Social media often perceives ways how people should look. Models do this a lot whether they mean to or not. If you post a picture of yourself and say you're not "model size," people may judge.
The power of social media is amazing and disastrous. Anyone can comment on anything that they like.
"Look how fat they are."
"Def not model material."
These comments can be said to anyone at any time, and the sad thing is that many people do it, and others don't say anything. Remember when our teachers would say watching it and saying nothing about it is just as bad as saying something rude? And they are right. It is just as bad; you don't care enough to say something is wrong.
Anyone can post things about anyone. Say it's Instagram. Most people can take your post and repost it to their story and say what they want.
It's crushing when people comment or repost your post to make fun of you. It's horrible and one reason social media can be such a horrific place.
You don't know how many times I have scrolled through social media and have seen body-shaming comments. I see at least three posts a day, which you may not think is a lot, but it really is.
I've scrolled through an overweight girl's video where she is trying to prove to people no matter your size, you are beautiful, and she's right. But scrolling through the comments after posting an uplifting comment, I find the most disgusting comments, such as, "I think I just felt an earthquake," or "I found all the kidnapped children." It's things like that that make my blood boil; it's absolutely unacceptable on so many different levels.
Just when Olivia Rodrigo was getting popular for her music, I remember her posting a gorgeous picture of her standing and smiling. She looked so good, although she would never see it or reply. I had to let her know how good she looked, but then again, I found myself down the rabbit hole. "She's too skinny." "Is she anorexic?" "I love her but she needs to pack some meat on her body or muscle, something." More disgusting comments that could take a toll on anyone.
I also remember a while back, there was a picture of Billie Eilish surfacing the web, and she was wearing a tank top and athletic shorts while heading somewhere. I remember the repost and comments saying, "Dang, Billie got fat." Things like that and more. Billie didn't get fat, and she's not.
We're so used to seeing Billie in oversized clothes that we've never really seen her body, and you know what? Who cares? Just because Billie shed so many clothes doesn't mean a thing; she is still Billie, and that is all that matters.
I had a friend when we were in middle school, and she was a little bigger than me. One day, she removed her baggy sweatshirt (just like Billie), and someone in the classroom screamed before saying, "Ew gross. Put a shirt on." I was disgusted by the comment, but not knowing what to do, I sat there like everyone else, not saying anything to the boy.
I felt ashamed as my friend was sad for the rest of the day. I should have said something, but now I know I recently apologized to my friend.
Body shaming is too common and unacceptable. In my eyes, nobody should feel bad about their bodies, but in reality, a lot of people do. Magazines, social media, articles, flyers, etc., perceive this idea of how certain people should look, and that image is engraved into people's brains.
They believe that's how they should look, so they do their best to change themselves when, in reality, they may be just fine. Body Shaming can take a toll on anyone and have a lot of effects on people that can cause issues, and we don't want that. We don't want body shaming to go on, either. It's disgraceful, disgusting, unacceptable, and just plain rude. We need to come together to stop things like body shaming, and that starts with you and me.