We live in a world that is filled with “diet culture.” Where dieting never ends, no “body” is enough, and the cycle of shame is on repeat. There’s little room for self-love when every magazine, social media platform and “news” channel has their own way of shaming people into feeling they aren’t worthy. It’s a non-stop trend of hatred that is being passed around to one another and sometimes we even do it to ourselves. Body shaming can lead to eating and exercise disorders, depression, anxiety, self-harm and in extreme cases death by suicide. According to https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image :
- Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape.
- More than 1/3 of the people who admit to “normal dieting,” will merge into pathological dieting. Roughly 1/4 of those will suffer from a partial or full-on eating disorder.
- More than 40% of women and about 20% of men agreed they would consider cosmetic surgery in the future. The statistics remain relatively constant across gender, age, marital status and race.
- 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Only 10% of people suffering from an eating disorder will seek professional help.
The numbers show us that shaming isn’t the answer. We must put an end to the shame game!
Body Shaming is any negative talk or criticism for being too fat or even too thin, or too tall, too short, too slow, to weak, and basically “too” anything. Body shaming is saying someone of a certain body shape should wear certain clothes or eat certain foods. Body shaming is assuming someone isn’t worthy of something because of what they look like, be it a job, relationship, or reward. We see people becoming increasingly more comfortable with shaming themselves and others daily. Body shaming isn’t a “them” thing, it’s an “us” thing, the shaming, discrimination, and hatred is something we can all play a part in supporting or stopping.
We can agree that to feel shame is one of the most dreadful sensations. Shame is a deep wound that even just talking about can be uncomfortable. According to the dictionary “shame” is a noun and described as a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong. Shame is also the ability to feel guilt, regret, or embarrassment. Shame is also the feeling of dishonor or disgrace. Shame is a deep and somewhat dark feeling. Unfortunately, shame doesn’t stop there. Shame can also be a transitional verb, a sensation that you can cause on someone else, making them feel ashamed.
Body shaming causes some people to feel deep regret, guilt, and sadness over their bodies. The numbers above also show us that more and more people are uncomfortable in their own skin and falling into practices that can lead to life-long disorders and or death. Sadly, this means that there are people who feel guilty and embarrassed over their own bodies. It’s heartbreaking to know that so many people feel so badly.
Body shaming isn’t just about picking on “the fat kid” or the “skinny kid,” although calling someone “fat” or “skinny” is shameful. In a world where so many of us are working to help people feel confident and empowered over their bodies, it can take just one vile statement to take that all away. Body shaming statements are seen everywhere from headlines about who gained too much weight, to who looks too thin. Body shaming can also disregard people of different abilities, taunting those who “can” or “can’t” do certain things, making light of someone’s health concerns, and so on. All these statements are damaging.
What’s worse? Many children growing up in this diet culture are hearing adults body shame themselves. Children hear these comments and think that it must be “normal” to hate your body, shopping for clothes or enjoying all types of food. We teach our youth that it’s normal to never like anything about ourselves and that we can freely discuss other people’s bodies and what they deserve too. How untrue, how sad. Keep in mind that when you make statements, other people hear you. Like it or not, you are a role model to someone, just think how they feel when their role models shame themselves? Imagine a child you love doing the same.
If you have ever felt shame over your body, we’re sorry. You are beautiful, you have things to offer, and you are loved. Your body is capable of so many wonderful things! Your body gives you life, it lets you feel love, it lets you enjoy your friends, it lets you see, hear, feel, taste, and hear all the joys of life! It lets you grow, heal, and excel! We are all human beings, and we have a right to happiness and enjoyment in our lives and in our bodies no matter what they look like. Maybe you don’t like every single thing about yourself, but you have our permission to love every single thing about yourself.
The body shaming needs to stop. We can stop this vicious cycle with how we think and talk to ourselves. Instead of looking at a photo and saying, “I look so…” Only point out something positive. Instead of looking in the mirror and tugging at your clothes, take a moment to point our three good things. Start each morning with thinking about all you are grateful for in your body! Don’t let others speak negatively about bodies around you. Shutdown conversations about weight, dieting or comparisons. Compliment people on how funny, creative, smart, driven, kind and generous they are. Because what really matters is never how anyone looks, it’s how they feel. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend and spread that kindness freely with others.
Your body matters. You deserve to care for your body, to nourish and enjoy your body regardless of its shape, size, color, weight, or anything of that nature. You deserve a life that allows you to learn, evolve and actively participate in the body you have right now! It starts here today with you believing that’s true too! There’s no shame in the self-love and encouragement game, but we must put an end to the body shame!
Manager of The Wellness Center