5 Ways To Overcome Bodyshaming (Yourself & Others)
Welcome to planet Earth 2018 where most of us are constantly concerned with how we look. Modern society operates on a hierarchy where people are more powerful if they meet the current standards of beauty. Well here’s a newsflash for you. This hierarchy is quickly evaporating and being replaced by a mindset where inner beauty is what is valued, and exhibiting integrity, compassion, and positive mental energy is the way to get ahead.
One obstacle we continue to work towards overcoming is bodyshaming. Most of us are not aware we have been brainwashed into bodyshaming (both ourselves and others) because it’s something we were always exposed to. It was as normal as brushing our teeth every day. It’s time for a new normal, and by the looks of it, body positivity is not only gaining momentum, but it has also set a course to eradicate the low self-esteem that wreaked havoc on the happiness of our ancestors.
Why? Because we are becoming smarter as a species. With the internet has come the spread of knowledge and ideas for free. As these concepts that help us heal are spread from one mind to the next, they sink in, allow us to experiment with new ways of thinking, and we become empowered. As these new ideas spread, human everywhere become aware of how the media, our environment, and our cultures have participated in the happiness-killing practice of bodyshaming.
What Is Bodyshaming?
Bodyshaming is “the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.”
Making judgments about someone based on their bodyweight is something many people do without thinking twice, but that practice is an act of bodyshaming. If the person being spoken about can’t hear you, it’s still bodyshaming and promotes an unhealthy cruelty that has deeply wounded our culture. The result of calling someone fat or laughing at someone’s body, commenting on how someone should lose weight or putting them down for their weight causes major damage to the person receiving this abuse.
Bodyshaming can lead to severe insecurities, eating disorders, unhealthy comparison to ideals, competition between people, mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, and eating disorders. The extreme cases can lead to substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide.
Bodyshaming creates a cycle of unhealthy habits that a person can become trapped in, whether they are the bodyshamer or the target. Anyone who believes that someone is less valuable because of their external appearance can easily become obsessed with physical appearance to the point where they begin to spend large amounts of money to alter their looks with expensive surgery. It also leads to basing one’s relationships on looks alone.
The types of insecurities that bodyshaming breeds create power struggles that pit men against men, women against women, and creates self-hatred as well. The destructive effects of bodyshaming result in guilt, codependency, and a complete diversion of the meaning of life, which is to be kind and help each other.
When people participate in bodyshaming, they are denying someone the right to be happy and they are showing their own insecurities, especially if the bodyshaming is done to oneself.
How Do We Participate In Body Shaming?
When we think of someone differently because of their weight, we are participating in bodyshaming. When we think or speak negatively of ourselves or others in regards to weight or body shape we are participating in bodyshaming. If we compare ourselves to other’s bodies in any way, we are participating.
Even supporting media that includes bodyshaming is participating in it. When a man in a film makes a joke about someone for their size and puts them down, we shouldn’t laugh, and perhaps we should stop watching. Popular media programs us subconsciously, and we are supporting it if we consume it. The ideas of bodyshaming came through the media and that is what brainwashed people. Magazines, movies, television, and marketing are the industries that are lining their pockets with the destruction of innocent people’s self-esteem.
5 Ways To Overcome Bodyshaming
Does it make you a little angry? That’s probably a good thing. Let your passion get stirred and use that energy to spread awareness that bodyshaming is just as bad as treating someone unequally because of race, gender, sexual preference, or disability. Here are ways we can break down this societal norm and construct one that has room for everyone to be happy.
1. Don’t Comment on Weight
Whether it’s yours, a stranger, or a close friend who has gained (or lost) weight, avoid making any comments about their weight at all. Someone else’s body is none of your business, period. Doing this only feeds the idea that a person’s worth is somehow linked to their weight. People should always be treated with love and compassion - including yourself.
2. Only Say Positive Things About Your Body or Anyone Else’s
If you’re in the habit of saying that you don’t look good enough, that you don’t like certain parts of your body, or you spend time wishing you looked like someone else, stop. Don’t allow yourself to speak about your body in terms of negativity, ever. When you speak to others, be conscious of how your words affect people and make sure your intention is to help them love and accept themselves. Overall, we need to stop commenting on looks and bodies in a major way. Our culture is so obsessed with looks that we’ve manifested major issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as a result. We have lost our sense of compassion because of the obsession with impressing people physically or gauging our worth based on an (often unattainable) image.
3. Surround Yourself With Body-Positive People
Stop hanging out with people who make you or anyone else feel less than equal because of how they look. You’ll notice that all types of people can fall into bodyshaming, regardless of social class, income level, or age. Be diligent in protecting yourself from toxic social groups and create firm boundaries by sticking up for yourself if someone does bodyshame you or someone else. You can stand up for yourself by kindly saying, “putting someone down for their appearance is hurtful, please do not limit my worth to my external appearance or I will not be able to continue this friendship.”
4. Read Body-Positive Books
Check out books like Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe, Beautiful You by Rosie Mulinary, and Body Shame by Paul Gilbert. The more we understand an issue, the easier it is to break free from it. This step is absolutely essential to overcoming bodyshame. If someone asked you right now what bodyshaming is any why it’s so bad, would you be able to answer? Getting clear information from body positivity specialists and therapists can help heal in our own psyche.
5. Have a Body-Positive Mentor
We love when something inspires us and gives us a way to feel good. That is why having a mentor can make overcoming bodyshaming fun. Find someone that gives online classes, in-person classes, or has an active social media account so you can join the conversation with real people who are actively making strides to help others overcome bodyshame.
The idea that beauty is somehow an emaciated, tall, skinny model is outdated. We are entering a time where all bodies are seen as beautiful, where cellulite is acceptable, and where we are not defined by how we look. As we evolve, we are more drawn to people’s energy, their intentions, their positivity, and their kindness than anything else. We are creating a demand each time we refuse to participate in bodyshaming. That demand means that what once was sexy is being replaced with attraction on a much deeper level.
When we spread awareness of how toxic bodyshaming is, more people will begin to love themselves again. We can heal our relationships, we can get back on track in our society, and we can stop bowing down to the false gods of the media who are respected without having helped anyone. Respect should be earned, not given based on an external facade.
Related Article: Redefining Beauty: How To Feel Good At Any Age