Say ‘NO’ to Body-Shaming

Jayanti Shekar

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As we step into a new year, it is with great pride that I write this piece for the 13th edition of Eyra. It takes a lot to turn a dream into reality. And we, at Eyra, are blessed to have been able to do that.

While in the previous editions, we shared some important tips on varied aspects of beauty, in this issue, I want to go a step further and redefine ‘beauty’.

Beauty, in the whole sense, has no single definition. It is rather ‘to each, her/his own’. For some it is beautiful skin, for some it is a perfect body, for some it is inner peace that gives a glow, and for some it is being original. No matter how this establishes, it often leads to comparison, and perpetuates the idea that people should be judged mainly for their physical features.

You need to lose some weight before your marriage.’, ‘Is your daughter in law fair?’, ‘She’s beautiful but her nose is a little big.’, ‘She is too skinny.’ are some of the comments that are often heard around us.

untitled2Have you even been a target of someone else’s body-shaming comments?

If yes, now is the time to say ‘No’! Do not encourage body-shaming. If we do not set the stage right the first time, it will never be right.

Unfortunately, people around us never realize what it does to many a woman. Criticizing yourself or others can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and criticism. Personally for me, a body-shaming comment clearly exposes the inner ugliness of the person who passed such a comment.

Stopping body-shaming starts with understanding the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Pressure to conform to our society’s beauty standards infiltrates us, often in subtle ways. It becomes difficult to untangle what we do to live up to these standards from that which is authentic and will genuinely make us feel beautiful.

Learning to accept and love your body can be a lifelong journey, not without its own hiccups.

Do we know what harm we are causing?

untitled1We all know that being overweight can carry a stigma that results in demoralizing feelings of shame. It turns out that body-shaming is not just inappropriate, unnecessary and potentially damaging to our self-esteem and self-worth, but also impacts our health. A recent study suggests that derogatory comments about weight and size can impact upon the physical as well as mental health of those who experience it.

Even Barbie announced that they are going to launch a fall line of Barbies that would be of different shapes and sizes. This is something that people have been calling for years. Let us also bring in a change and try to positively contribute to other’s health.

What can we do to STOP this?

Here are my five tips to ensure we stop this practice right away:

Define your own standards – Never try to please anyone including your spouse/ family/ friends. Be what you are – this will keep you happy and healthy. More than trendy clothes and looks, it is important to be comfortable and look comfortable. untitled3Everyone will have something or the other to say. People seem to always forget that opinions are not facts. Just because you think something is good or bad does not mean it is the best advice and it sure as hell does not mean that it is right. Opinions are neither wrong nor right; they just are!

Accept your body positively – While we should continuously improve and make our body fit, it is equally important to accept ourselves the way we are. Positive reinforcement at all times of the day will help us to think positive thoughts more often than not. Also try to encourage others to tell themselves positive things, because we can all feed off of each other’s positive energy. Having a positive mindset is the first step to building the confidence needed to stop body-shaming yourself.

Stop judging others While we constantly see people criticizing others for their body size on social media and in real life, it is not the right thing by any standards. So why are many of us still doing it? Why are we so obsessed with people’s bodies and our own? Since when did any type of body-shaming become okay? Let us consciously try to divert from these kinds of discussion. Encourage your friends and colleagues to engage in a more meaningful and intelligent discussion. While it is okay to discuss about being fit but opinionated conversations around other’s body is a strict non-no.

Do not misuse social media – Social media has pushed women to fit into what is generally considered as beautiful or perfect. But, unfortunately, it has also led to eating disorders and health issues. How on earth can we comment on someone else’s body and someone else’s physical appearance? untitled4We can put an end to this by consciously using social media only for the purpose it was meant to be. Let us celebrate the achievement and progress of people. Social media can do a lot of good, why waste the collaborative platforms on body-shaming?

Teach your children to not body shame As parents, part of our job is to instill positive values in our children. Teaching them to be nice, good humans is not easy and mistakes are inevitable. And while it may seem obvious to teach things like, ‘Do not hit people’ or ‘Be nice to everyone’ teaching kids not to body-shame anyone may not be so straightforward. More so, when the body-shaming culture is so deeply seeped within us. Like everything, instilling good values about bodies begins at home. Do not make negative comments about anyone’s body in front of them. Acknowledge people’s differences without being judgmental. Teach them that body is God-made and that we should accept it as God’s gift and stop being critical about the size of nose/ teeth/ body size/ eyes etc.

ascn.jpgLife is much more enjoyable and easier, if we stop showing dissatisfaction towards our body and enjoy the positivity!

Beauty is a state of mind! When we realize that we are more than just our bodies, we can begin to let go of some of the pressures we place on them. The body is a strong vehicle, but it is not the sole medium through which we experience life.  Beauty also comes from attributes such as humour, compassion, selflessness, intelligence etc.

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