“You should start losing weight or who will be attracted to you?” “You’ve started looking like a man since you joined the gym”, “Hey Shorty!” “Hello Mr Giraffe.” We have all either said these things to others or have heard remarks about appearance made by other people. This is called body shaming. Body shaming is when we are judged and critiqued for our physical appearance by others or ourselves. Joking about others weight, skin colour or appearance can create emotional issues.
Why Body Shaming Happens
Society has set different standards and expectations for all genders. Women should not have body hair, should be slim and fair skinned, shouldn’t be too tall, shouldn’t wear clothes that reveal too much skin or too much make up. Whereas men should be tall, muscular, have facial hair, jawlines, sharp features and preferably slim with a good muscular built. But sometimes, even coming close to these unrealistic and patriarchal demands of society fall short of saving you from body shaming. And, that is because the problem does not lie with the shamed but the one who shames.
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Body Shaming Inter-Sex Individuals
Body Shaming gets noxious and difficult for inter-sex individuals, often resulting in self-hatred and self-consciousness as they experience shame inflicted by self and/or others, thus making them even more prone to mental health disorders, self-harm and suicidal behaviour. Victims of body shaming have no age limit – children to elders, any one could be the target.
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Psychology of Body Shaming
The perpetrators of body shaming may have low EQ (Emotional Quotient) as they participate in body shaming and may not realize how their comments impact others. Another reason that people may body shame others is that they might knowingly or unknowingly be projecting their own insecurities onto other people.
Body Shaming Your Own Self
It’s not only society, sometimes we ourselves can become our biggest enemy. We try different kinds of diet regiments to lose weight, go through expensive cosmetic treatments and procedures, shun ourselves from indulging in desserts, binge on more food to gain weight, purchase products to enhance our complexion, etc. This may happen because of an underlying low sense of self-esteem. This usually leads us down the path where we compare ourselves to other people on social media or in real life, not realizing that there is more to it than what meets the eye. Sometimes we fail to realize that what you are revering may not even be real!
Why We Shouldn’t Body Shame Others
How you look depends on your genetics, your environment, any medical or physical conditions you may have, and a number of other factors. Someone may be skinny not because they don’t eat a lot, but because they have fast metabolism. Every individual is different and it’s important to honor those differences and be the best version of ourselves.
While it’s important to have an ideal body type for yourself, it’s also important to adopt realistic standards for yourself and live freely and authentically. You should want to go to the gym not because you want to become more muscular or slimmer like a model on social media, but because you want to have a fit and healthy body as well as mind. It’s vital that you do what’s right for you and your body.
Psychological Impact of Body Shaming
Body shaming can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health. Due to body shaming, we often refrain from expressing our authentic selves in fear of experiencing shame and being ridiculed and start doubting ourselves and our self-worth. Body shaming results in
- Low self-confidence
- Distorted self-image
- Mental health disorders such as anxiety (especially social anxiety) and/or depression
- Eating disorders
- Body Dysmorphic disorder
How to Deal with Body Shaming
One of the most effective ways to tackle body shaming is to practice self-acceptance and self-love. Indulge in and promote body positivity. It’s easier said than done and it’s not something that will happen overnight but the results are immensely rewarding. Once you start practicing this, you could notice that your moods are elated and you may feel more confident in your own skin. It will change the way you look at yourself which basically means that it will help improve your self-image.
Love and embrace those natural body rolls and curves, stretch marks, every part of your body with all its so called flaws. Body positivity and self-love will go a long way! Remember your worth isn’t defined by your physical appearance, you are more than just your looks!