Have you ever been called fat? Have you ever been told you should hit the gym or stop eating? How about being told that you should actually eat something? Have people told you you look like a little boy (when you’re a grown ass woman)? Have you ever received a comment about your body that made you feel unhappy with yourself?
I believe there are very, very few people out there who can answer my last question with no. Sadly, body shaming seems to have become a national sport, especially here, in Romania. As a person who’s battled with eating disorders and still has some work to do to reach a constantly healthy state of mind, I can tell you that body shaming can ruin people’s lives.
First of all, there are some things people don’t seem to get when it comes to body shaming and I would like to clear that up.
Body shaming is not something fat people invented because we’re “too sensitive”.
You can body shame a skinny person too, by telling them that they look sick, or that they should eat something. You can body shame a person with disabilities as well. Body shaming applies to every single one of you out there, without exception and it’s basically the pointing out, usually in a mean manner, of the aspects that you are probably already self conscious about.
It is not about being politically correct. It’s about not being a cruel a!*hole.
When accused of body shaming, a lot of people pull out the “I’m just trying to help” or “I’m doing this for your good” card. But that’s just an excuse for them to channel their own frustrations onto somebody else. And it’s such a hypocritical thing to say! Imagine this: You are a professional basketball player, on a field, with a kid who sucks. You are teaching him how to play, so you keep throwing him the ball, yet you always throw it so hard on purpose, that it hits him in the face. You know you’re hurting him, but “you’re doing it for his own good”, right? So that he’ll learn faster. Do you see my point?
People don’t feel offended when a friend tells them “hey, maybe we should hit the gym together” or “are you feeling ok, you seem to have gained some weight”. Being encouraging or giving constructive criticism is a dimension away from telling me I should hit the gym because I look disgusting. That’s not helping anyone. Except you, it’s helping you vent out your frustrations and in that case, you should find healthier ways. Maybe we can hit the gym together 😉
Loving your body does not mean “letting go”.
The fact that I no longer feel like crying every time I look into the mirror, does not mean I quit my struggle and now I officially live off KFC, pizza & pasta (although I wish I would). Learning to love yourself and accept the body you’re in does not instantly mean that you stopped trying to reach a healthy weight or to live a healthy life – no. It just means that it’s no longer a struggle, it’s no longer a fight against yourself. Instead, you learn to work with yourself and keep a positive mindset – which is pretty much essential.
There’s a big difference between wanting to be represented and promoting obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle.
The number one argument body shamers bring up when combating the body positivity movement is the fact that it promotes obesity. This happens especially when it comes to plus size models or influencers. If you would like to see it like that, ok. But I would much rather see it from the point of view of a little girl who’s browsing through a magazine and sees women of every shape, colour and size, all looking equally beautiful, confident and happy. That little girl will then no longer feel society’s pressure to be perfect from such a young age, like we did and she will grow up to be confident and happy with herself. Need I remind you that mental health is just as important?
Skinny does not mean healthy and curvy does not mean unhealthy.
I might be on the heavier side, however I have a number of skinny friends that are SO much more unhealthy than me. You know, that skinny friend who stays skinny no matter what they eat? Well, the skinny friend can take advantage of that fact and eat only junk, never work out, and so on. I know girls who are so skinny, you won’t believe the fact that they subside mostly on McD’s and frozen pizza. Metabolism is a fickle thing. And this goes both ways. When you see me on the street or in a photo, you have no clue what I eat, how much I work out, or what my lifestyle is life at all. I hate cliches, but really YOU DON’T KNOW ME (do click the link, you’ll get it then, promise), so you can’t possibly know if I’m healthy or not.
Self confidence is one of the best feelings in the world and no one has the right to take that away from you. Because as wonderful as self confidence is, a simple remark can make you question everything. So please, let’s stop being a-holes and admit the truth, shall we? You don’t care about my health when you tell me I look disgusting, you’re just being mean. You’re not really concerned about my lifestyle, nor my wellbeing. As long as you’re not paying for my food, I don’t think you have the right to comment on whether I should eat or not. Disguising menace with “care” is not fair and bullies should not be given a free pass because they claim they have our best interest at heart.
The sad part is that bullying has become part of our human nature, so no matter how many articles I would write about it, or how much anyone would try, it’s virtually impossible to stop it.
What we can do, though, is fight back. Talk back. Take their hate and turn it into your own power and motivation to do good.
The first mistake people make when they’re being body shamed is that they end up believing their bully and they become a victim. Well, it’s time to stop being victims. This is MY body, so NOBODY has the right to make me feel bad about it. Don’t allow bullies to belittle you or shatter your self esteem. Of course, by fighting back I do not mean you should be nasty in return. Kill them with kindness, you know? Showing someone their cruelty can’t reach nor hurt is often times a bigger blow for a bully than any kind of mean comeback you could throw in return. However, don’t stay silent. Never stay silent. Call out the bullies, let them know they can’t shame you into silence, prove them that a positive attitude and kindness can have a bigger impact than small minds could ever imagine.
In conclusion, I would like to add one more thing: