Magazines, social media, TV shows and other platforms always offer advice, articles, and motivation on how to lose weight abruptly, recommends various diet plan to optimize weight loss, and ways how to appear thinner, etc. At first glance, this feature on diet and exercise are completely harmless but with this constant bombarding of ideas that slimmer is better, one may start being self-critical with their body weight, body shape, and size.
…people who restrict will obviously begin to lose weight, wear baggier clothing to hide it, move their food around on the plate but not eat it, chew food and spit it out. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
It doesn’t help that sitcoms and comedy shows frequently use obese and overweight characters’ bodies as the subject of various jokes. In addition, society tag pageants and beauty contestants as the ideal definition of beauty; thus, average sized women always feel that they fall short of that definition. They may start making practices and habits geared toward achieving the most coveted size 0. There is nothing wrong with trying to lose few pounds in order to reach your recommended body weight and it is perfectly fine to choose healthier food options.
Body shaming and examples
With the popularity of the internet and social media, body shaming became one of the common practices. Body shaming is defined as an action or practice done by humiliating someone’s body shape or size by mocking or critical comments. Body shaming is not exclusive to those on the heavier side, in fact, it also condemns thin women. Whether women admit or not, women themselves bond with their girlfriends over talking, rating, criticism their bodies, their friends’ body and celebrities weight battles. Body shaming can be so deeply embedded that one may not be aware that she is practicing such. Body shaming is manifested in various ways. Examples of these are:
- Criticizing one’s appearance through judgment or comparison to another person
- Criticizing another’s appearance in front of them or without their knowledge
- Rating and criticizing bodies through technology anonymously or ominously
- Discrimination towards fat or thin people
Adolescence period is said to be formative years and more than ever, teenagers are extremely conscious of their body and oftentimes, they have low self-esteem. In fact, recent studies reveal that women take almost half their life to reach the level of body confidence of teenage boys. Also, it was found out that 94% of teenage girls in America have experienced body shaming while only 64% of teenage boys experience such. Moreover, on the average teenage boys have 3.5 times more positive body image than teenage girls.
Most in the eating disorder professional community agree that to some extent, nature, and indeed nurture and environment are significant contributors and all together they provide a more well rounded opportunity to figuring out causation. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
Removing body shaming from our system and way of thinking will not happen overnight. It will involve conscious effort to lessen body shaming ourselves and other people; hopefully, eradicating such useless social stigma is possible in the near future.
Tips to a better body image
Psychologists and experts suggest helpful tips to start the way to a better body image.
Identify aspects that you LIKE/LOVE about your body. Find something you like about yourself: physical or nonphysical and celebrate it daily.
Identify positive body image role models. Think of individuals in your life that celebrate their body for what it can do and refuse to comment on others’ physical appearances.
Confront those who perpetuate body shaming. Once you become aware of body shaming, share about its harmful effects on family and friends. Don’t be afraid to call out friends and loved ones about their body-shaming behaviors. Talk to them. Most of the time, they aren’t aware of these behaviors.
When we shift our focus away from the numbers on the scales and towards a more global sense of health, we can achieve genuine wellbeing by nurturing—not fighting against—our body. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
If you have been a victim of body shaming, an e-counseling session may be the best alternative for you to get help. Don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-esteem issues because your body does not “conform” to what society dictates.