Most of us have gone through experiences in life where people judge us based on our physical appearance. Yet not everyone knows how to handle body-shaming the right way.
It is crucial to understand that the significance of beauty lies beyond the endowed physical aesthetics whether body shapes, size, facial features, etc.
Irrespective of gender or age, everyone has been subjected to feeling insecure about their body image in some or the other way by people around them.
This shapes our overall mindset and impacts our self-image, self-worth, self-confidence, and mental well-being negatively.
Table of Contents
What Is Body Image
Body image is a person’s perception of their physical self, their thoughts, feelings, both positive as well as negative. It is how you see yourself and create a perception based on physical appearance and overall existence.
What Is Body Shaming
Body Shaming is criticizing yourself or others because of some aspects of their physical appearance. This includes criticism of specific body parts, body size, skin color, and the way we fit into our clothing.
Lack of Body Positivity
Individuals who are victims of body shaming lack body positivity and see a decline in self-confidence.
Regardless of having great health, this lack of body positivity creeps in. This results in heightening self-doubt about ourselves and our abilities.
Factors That Influence Body Image
Children learn by observing their surroundings and the people around them at a very young age. Oftentimes, the parents that lack body positivity, criticize themselves in front of their children.
Later in life, these children end up mimicking the same behavior and mindset in terms of their body image and confidence.
A child who tends to idolize their parents or any family member imitates the same behavior as them while growing up.
When a parent establishes or sets standards on how an ideal body should look, the children end up adopting the same set of standards for themselves.
Self-criticism shapes how you perceive yourselves and draw negative conclusions about your body shape, size, and features.
It is the voice in your head that hammers unrealistic expectations to fine-tune your physical features. Overcoming this self-critical voice is an essential first step towards overcoming body shaming.
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3. Social Media
Constant access to social media comes up with consistent exposure to people showcasing ideal body types. Be it celebrities, beauty influencers, or even friends.
You end up comparing your physical appearance with all the people over these platforms without verifying whether the said images are real, fake, or photoshopped.
This negatively impacts your self-confidence while you downgrade your image and appearance by setting high unrealistic standards.
Mainstream media especially advertisements promote elements such as fair skin, slim body shape, and better hairline as the ideal through various products.
This results in setting unrealistic standards for people who lack these elements and affect self-confidence and self-doubt at a mass level.
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Society influences our personality on many levels as we grow up and hence its impact on our body image is notable.
We are bombarded with unsolicited advice regarding curating our appearances or maintaining our weight by relatives, friends, neighbors, and peers constantly.
This leads to us questioning our self-worth and leads to de-valuing our body image in a grave manner.
6. The Glamor World
The glamor world is portrayed through the mediums of television, fashion magazines, and pageant competitions.
Featured models, celebrities, fashion icons influence the mindset of individuals across the globe and shape how they view themselves.
We end up idolizing these personalities and comparing our bodies to theirs which in turn affects our self-worth and confidence.
According to statistics, 22.89% of women shape the perception of their body image based on social media. While 21.97% of men validate their body image based on the feedback from their significant others.
Body Image Is Far More Than Just A Women’s Issue
Given its widespread impact, body image and body shaming are no longer just restricted to being a gender-biased issue.
Both men, women, and other genders feel pressurized by imposing standards of beauty and appearance. This includes teenagers, adults, and children below the age of 13.
What Does Body-Shaming Lead To
Criticism in terms of body image can be divided into three phases:
- Self-criticism – You criticize your appearance or physical aspects. E.g. Do I look fat?
- Criticism by others – When other people around you shower judgmental opinions or advice regarding your body shape, size, or skin color. E.g. Maybe you should lose some weight, it will make you look good.
- Criticism of others – Sometimes directly or indirectly we may end up body shaming others as well. E.g. I don’t think you have enough food since you don’t bulk up.
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2. Judgements/ Doubts
When you come across judgmental opinions or advice from people around you it may be a form of body shaming.
This increases the amount of self-doubt that you keep harboring in yourself regarding your body image.
Body shaming impacts our overall perception of achieving an ideal body image. This could lead to unwanted stress both physical and mental to ensure that we push ourselves to the limit toward the ideal body.
4. Lower Self-esteem
Comparing yourself with other individuals over your body negatively impacts your self-esteem.
You may see yourselves as less worthy of anything you deserve to accomplish and shut yourself from lucrative opportunities.
5. Fear of Acceptance
Body Shaming may lead to a spike in fear of acceptance by our family, friends, society, or the world in general.
You may feel that you are not good enough to deserve the attention of the world and the only way to get accepted is to become like that individual who you idolize to become.
6. Existential Crisis
Finally, it may all lead to you questioning the purpose and meaning of your life. It might lead to devastating confusion regarding the validity of your existence.
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4 Effective Ways To Handle Body-Shaming
The key to dealing with body shaming and generating body positivity is to embrace yourself. It is crucial to understand that we are all born different yet we are humans.
If you wish the world to accept you just the way you are, let the first person be you. We have listed 4 crucial ways to generate body positivity and deal with body shaming:
1. Take Care of Your Body
The first step towards increasing confidence in your body image is taking care of it. The idea does not propagate taking care of your body to look better but to feel better about how you look.
Regular exercise, practicing yoga, eating well, paying attention to personal grooming are a few things that you could do to improve the perception of your body image.
When you take care of your body, you align all your senses and focus on embracing who you are. When you feel good internally, it reflects on an external level and hence leads to seeing yourself in a far better light than before.
2. Stop blindly following media standards
This includes your exposure to social media influencers as well as celebrities from magazines and television shows.
You may have to cut out time exploring these mediums that influence you to set unrealistic standards for yourself. The less you see it, the less it bothers you on a personal front.
This will help you to prevent comparison and questioning your body image to the standards that are quite difficult to achieve.
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3. Practice positive body affirmations
Positive affirmations work wonders in other areas of your life especially when you struggle and face a lot of challenges.
You may achieve the same when it comes to affirming or validating your body image. Say good things to yourself and about your body consistently every single day.
This will help you to cement another foundational outlook toward your body image that erases other underlying self-critical dialogue.
4. Surround yourself with positive people
The last step that will help you to handle body-shaming is to live around people who embrace your authentic self. These are the people who would both encourage you to eat the red velvet cake and motivate you to hit the gym as well.
Yet regardless of how you look, these are the people who will prevent you from judging yourself solely based on your physical appearance.
It is not about cutting out negative people, but more about focusing on those who help you become better for yourself and not because the world wants it.
“We are always too skinny or too fat or too tall or too short. We are shaming each other and we are shaming ourselves. It sucks” – Emma Stone.
So, there you go! We hope you were able to understand what body shaming is, what are factors lead to body shaming, and what are steps you need to take to prevent it.
If you have more thoughts on how to overcome body shaming, feel free to share your ideas in the comments section!
To know more about body image and body shaming, watch the Knowledge Happy Hour video given below: