Body shaming is the act of mocking a person’s physical appearance. The scope of body shaming is wide and can include, height shaming, facial shaming, and many other types. It is not limited to fat-shaming, skinny shaming, and one’s muscularity.
Body shaming is one of those cruel and unnecessary things that can cause distress and depression among young people. It is a form of bullying where people humiliate others by making critical comments about the way they look, dress, or appear. Body shaming is more than bullying because it can make one lose self-esteem and confidence. Nobody deserves to be body shamed.
There’s no rule when it comes to responding to body shaming. It depends on how confident you feel in challenging what has been said. Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself against body shaming.
• Talk to someone you trust about how body shaming makes you feel. Keeping these emotions inside can make things worse.
• Practice being kind towards your body. The kinder you are to yourself, the more resilient you’ll be when you experience body shaming.
• Control your social media. If there’s anyone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, unfollow them, even if they’re your close friends. Instead, follow positive accounts and people who are putting out diverse, uplifting messages about body acceptance.
Lastly, don’t be that person who body shames other people. Love and care for your friends regardless of how they look, dress and appear. Be that friend who encourages your colleagues in all aspects of their lives, that way we shall have a happy community. Say no to body shaming.
So how can someone overcome body shaming? Here are a few tips:
1. Block toxic people and accounts
It’s not always easy to cut off people who repeatedly put you down.. They could be your childhood friends, your favourite cousins, the popular seniors from school and even your crush. Your first step, could be to confront them, especially if you think that they might be doing it unintentionally and would be willing to change. If this doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to report the comments and then block them on social media.
2. Speak up when others are targeted
Sometimes, speaking up for someone else comes easier than taking on your own bully. If you see someone posting comments on body shaming, call them out, report their comments or posts and express your support to the victim.
3. Surround yourself with positivity
Social media doesn’t have to be a negative experience for you going forward. Unfollowing negative accounts is one thing that can control your feed to include more body positive accounts.. Just like motivational talks make one feel motivated, body positive content and information will slowly encourage you to love your body.
4. Change the way you speak to yourself
Most of us have a habit of talking to ourselves and sometimes, even though we speak about our bodies positively in public, it’s a different story in our head. Make an effort to not self bully. Don’t berate yourself over your eating habits. Kindness begins with yourself. If you’re unhappy with your eating habits, say encouraging things to yourself instead of scolding yourself. If you fail, tell yourself it’s okay and that you’ll try harder the next day. Be your own cheerleader. Once you build a positive and healthy relationship with your body, no third person will be able to break that bond.
5. Practice what you preach
If you feel very strongly about body shaming, raise your voice to help others by advocating for body positivity, building a community for others who have been body shamed, sharing your experiences, tips on how you try to manage it and participating in healthy social media trends like posting pictures that use no filters like or going makeup free. Encourage others around you to do the same.
6. Get help
If nothing you do helps you feel better about your body and if being body shamed starts affecting your daily life or your mental health, reach out to a therapist or doctor to talk about it.
Remember, asking for help when you’re suffering is nothing to be ashamed of. It does not mean that you are weak, it actually makes you stronger because you’re able to identify when you need help and what is best for you.