The practice of making critical, potentially humiliating comments about one’s self or another due to their size or weight is known as body shaming, and, in an age where social media makes it easy to voice one’s opinion, putting people down for their appearance is easier than ever before. Even President—elect Donald Trump has been quoted several times as saying several derogatory things about women, in particular, Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado. The culture’s obsession with what’s “in” regarding physical appearance encourages teens to judge and shame those who do not exactly fit the mold.
“Body shaming happens to everyone,” senior Luisa Turner said. “Everyone’s body is different from one another, yet for some reason we still mock people for their differences.”
Society’s ideal perfect body shifts constantly, leaving teens open to criticism for being too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too frail, or too muscular. Photoshop editing alters the appearances of famous celebrities, and while portraying a celebrity in an attractive way is a selling point for magazine ads, several magazines have come under fire for blatantly distorting a woman’s body or lightening their skin tone. Zendaya, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, and many other celebrities chide these magazines for creating a false ideal body for their fans to look up to. It seems that the media is pushing the idea that we should want to change, and that we should care about looking slimmer and taller, yet curvy all at the same time. Continuous body shaming has been linked to eating disorders, and can also severely cripple one’s self-esteem, resulting in social anxiety from a sense of rejection regarding physical attributes.
Body shaming creates a divide between people, separating them into groups that matter and those who are not worthy of consideration. According to April Lyons, a licensed psychotherapist, body shamers ostracize others because they feel discomfort with deviations from their ideas of beauty and social acceptance. What gives people the right to put down someone simply because he or she doesn’t fit their perception of beauty? According to Braintree Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), when someone feels upset or perhaps intimidated by another, he or she may use body shaming as a self-defense mechanism in order to feel better. It may be easier to attack someone than express how she or he truly feels.
We should aim to live in a society where we can accept all, regardless of our differences. To create a more accepting world, attempt to confront those who take part in body-shaming. They may not realize how they could be offending someone else, and you could very well be a body shamer yourself. Instead, identify someone in your life who is body-positive. No one has to be perfect to be body positive, and the very positivity he or she exudes could help you accept yourself more.
And finally, find something you like about your body. It can be hard sometimes, as we all can get in a funk about our appearance, but your body is yours alone. While you live in it, you should learn to appreciate your body while you can. And when one can accept oneself, it is then easier to accept someone else. Acceptance of one another is the ultimate test of humanity, and we possess the ability to heal through love and the openness of our minds and hearts. If the majority of society can band together and accept the very fact that we are different, then the few who hate will be snuffed out by love.
~tatjana shields, staff reporter