By – Praveshh Gaur
Body shaming is an act of insulting an individual for their physical appearance. People of all ages and genders have to deal with body shaming, and it can lead to feelings of avoidance and opting to isolate oneself due to the humiliation felt. It may result in serious mental health issues including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dysmorphia, as well as the general feeling of hating one’s body.
What are the causes of body shaming?
Body shaming involves mocking or humiliating someone by making inappropriate or negative comments about their body weight, size or shape, which can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and criticism. Some of the common causes of body shaming are:
Age-shaming is an age-based discrimination or mocking, and it is about ageing people. Commenting that people of a particular age group are too old to wear makeup or try on the latest fashion trends is ageist body shaming, which includes criticising wrinkles or drooping skin as well.
Hair shaming is as real and as offensive like body shaming. In recent times, western culture has always praised sleek, straight hair, while curls and other hair textures are assumed to be less attractive, called texture-shaming. Furthermore, all genders with receding hairlines or thinning/balding scalps experience bald-shaming.
One of the most prevalent reasons of body shaming is because of “Weight Bias”, which means the cruel bullying and negative images that bombard people who carry extra weight. Sometimes, people can be too big or thin and criticised for the same.
Food shaming is about body size, including comments about what someone is or isn’t eating and someone saying they look like they don’t need to be eating is food shaming.
Impact of body image on mental wellbeing
It is no secret that one’s body image plays a role in their mental wellness. A negative body image contributes to low self-esteem, which can take a toll on your mental wellness. Many times, people with negative body images are more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed, making them less likely to prioritize their mental and physical health.
Moreover, poor body image can cause people to constantly feel overly self-conscious, talk negatively about themselves, and sometimes isolates themselves from the social activities. It can even lead to diagnosed mental well-being issues, such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
Ways to improve your body image
If you sometimes judge yourself and feel uncomfortable in your own body, you’re not alone. In our society, lots of people struggle with accepting their bodies. Check out some tips to help you have a positive body image.
1. Practice positive self-talk
Replacing negative self-talk with positive thoughts and neutral affirmations can be useful for making you feel better, motivated and confident about yourself and your body. Instead of saying, “I have the perfect body,” you might say, “My body is a gift, and it deserves love and respect.”
2. Make healthy lifestyle changes
Regardless of your size, weight, or body image, eating a nourishing diet, practicing regular physical activity, and getting proper 7 to 9 hours of sleep can help you feel your best. Also, focus on eating a nutritious diet and once in a while indulge in foods that you enjoy.
3. Unfollow social media accounts that don’t make you feel good
Scrutinize social media accounts, people, and media images lift you. Unfollow accounts that focus on body mass index (BMI), fat talk, thinness, body weight, or ideal body size. Instead, focus on content, people that makes you feel good and motivated.
4. Reach out for professional help
Positive and motivational talk therapy can be a valuable resource for your mental health, whether you’re struggling with body image concerns, body dysmorphic disorder, or an eating disorder. Also, the psychotherapist can help you identify the roots of your low self-esteem, navigate your body image issues, and start the healing process.
Body shaming is humiliating yourself or someone by criticising their physical appearance which includes fat shaming, health shaming, criticizing skin or hair, thin shaming, unsolicited opinions, and mocking someone’s physical features.
You can heal your body image so you can walk in peace. Set a good example by not commenting on other people’s bodies. Instead, talk about their inner qualities. Also, encourage others to think before posting on social media; remind them that there’s a person on the other side of the screen.
The author is a mental health expert and Founder of Srauta Wellness.