In today’s world, where the perfect body is worked upon to achieve, where social media dictates how we have to look, and others’ opinions rule our lives, body-shaming is a concept that pops up now and again. Body-shaming is a term that makes us feel ashamed of our bodies due to comments made by our colleagues, relatives, or sometimes strangers. So, what exactly is body-shaming? This article will cover the aspects of body-shaming, its consequences, how to identify whether you are being body-shamed, and tips on handling body-shaming in the workplace.
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What is Body-Shaming?
Body-shaming is the verbalisation of individuals of negative comments about an individual’s body. This negative verbalisation can be about the individual’s age, size (also called fat-shaming if the person is overweight), food, hair, clothes, or perceived attractiveness. Globally, there have been reports of approximately 25 to 35 per cent of body-shaming incidents, which indicates that this is a global problem that needs attention. The origins of the body-shaming stem back to when standards for men and women regarding looks, muscle, and weight were unrealistic and impossible. Body-shaming includes derogatory comments and can be considered a form of bullying. Words like, “You should eat more?”, “Don’t you think you should diet?”, “Are you going to order all that?” are some examples of subtle body-shaming that affects the individual’s mental and physical peace. Body-shaming or fat-shaming within the workplace can impact the morale of employees and can lead to decreased productivity. It, in turn, can affect the output of employees and tarnish the organisation’s image.
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What are the Consequences of Body-shaming?
Body-shaming can have physical and psychological consequences which can be long-lasting. 1. Physically, body-shaming can cause eating disorders, loss or weight gain, and dissatisfaction with witnesses’ bodies.
- Body-shaming can cause mental health issues like anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Individuals who are body-shamed may tend to isolate themselves due to the humiliation experienced by them.
- Further, severe body-shaming can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts, leading to psychological distress.
- It can also lead to low self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth, causing depression.
- Body-shaming can cause body dysmorphic disorder, which many define as excessive time worrying about the flaws present in one’s body due to body-shaming.
- It can affect one’s self-esteem and productivity, affecting the quality of living.
- Overall, the individual may start to hate their body image, leading to social isolation. It can also lead to a poorer quality of life and hatred towards one’s body.
How to identify Body-shaming?
To effectively deal with body-shaming, it is imperative to identify the process. To do this, statements targeted toward your physical looks that either hurt or embarrass you are one way to determine if you are being body-shamed. In some cases, individuals make prominent examples of body-shaming like, “You are so thin, you should eat more,” “You are so fat, when are you going on a diet?” These statements are upfront and may cause you pain. On the other hand, individuals may pass subtle comments like, “When will you get married if you continue to eat so much?”, “You need to join the gym to be able to wear that outfit,” and “You are too short for a boy.” Other than physical comments, personal messages or comments on social media that degrade your body image also form a part of body-shaming. It is also called cyberbullying. The main aim is to recognise the hurtful statements targeted at your appearance to avoid these individuals or deal with body-shaming incidents.
Seven tips to Handle Body-shaming at the Workplace
Body-shaming can also occur at the workplace, especially when subjected to your boss’s dirty jokes or your co-worker’s wandering eyes. So, how do you handle body-shaming at the workplace when your career may also get affected? The following are seven tips to effectively manage body-shaming at work without derailing your job and maintaining mental and physical peace.
- Ignore their comments-Avoid engaging in conversation with the opposing party when they remark on your body image.
- Speak up for yourself-Be firm and let your colleagues know that you do not appreciate their comments.
- Call the shamers out-If you have courage and feel that your colleague is body-shaming you, call them out.
- Self-love- be kind to yourself-Remind yourself of your positive attributes and avoid trying to be perfect but aim to be a good person.
- Stop hiding-Avoid isolating yourself because of a few comments on your body image. Life is too short to let these comments get you down.
- Take responsibility and accountability: If some comments were out of concern, be accountable and responsible and take remedial actions towards targeting the issue rather than letting the body-shaming words affect you mentally.
- Talk to the Human Resource (H.R.) Manager-When all else fails, and workplace body-shaming becomes workplace bullying, it is time to approach the H.R. manager to resolve the issue.
Body-shaming is mocking an individual’s physical appearance like weight, hair growth, attractiveness, clothing, age, or hair. It can have profound detrimental effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. In the workplace, this can be incredibly detrimental to the employee’s productivity and the organisation’s image. Tips like ignoring the comments, calling out the body-shamers, loving yourself, practising self-affirmations at work, taking responsibility and accountability for remarks made out of concern, and being comfortable in your skin can help overcome these negative comments. If you allow these body-shaming comments to get to you, you will suffer emotionally and psychologically, and it may lead to isolation. Within the workplace, the following simple tips can help you overcome body-shaming. Remember, be proud of being imperfect and love yourself for who you are. You are the only one who can bring you down, so love yourself and stay positive.
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