Body shaming can easily put down one’s self-confidence and morale no matter how mentally strong they think they are. Especially now that we’re living in an era where social media has become a huge part of our lives, we’re all subjected to criticism and judgment every time we go online.
TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram are only three of the numerous social media platforms that young adults, older adults, and even children visit on the regular. Unfortunately, aside from being sources of information, these social apps can enable bullying, fat shaming, and negativity.
Here at Counseling Now, we have a team of mental health professionals with specialized training in issues that may affect mental health. We can help create a strategy and a care plan that’s specifically designed for you.
We understand that at some point in your life, you experienced being the subject of scrutiny and negative comments regarding your physical appearance. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be browsing this article right now. Keep reading to learn some of the ways you can save yourself mentally and cope with body shaming.
Defining Body Shaming
Body shaming is criticizing a person based on their appearance, body shape, and size. You can call it either fat shaming or body shaming as long as someone intentionally tells you that you “look skinny” or are “too fat” to make you feel bad about yourself, which is what makes it extremely damaging to your mental health.
Some people would take mean comments as a challenge to improve themselves or motivation to gain or lose weight. However, some tend to take such opinions seriously, causing them to question their self-worth. This could potentially result in low self-esteem, self-harm, and anger.
In line with that, Counseling Now offers therapies meant to guide people in their struggle with body image. Let our online counselors help you get through this battle and equip you with the tools to deal with body shaming.
How Does Body Shaming Affect a Person?
Body shaming can hurt a person’s mental wellness and can trigger psychological or mental issues in the long term. It can lead to:
- Unhealthy eating behaviors
- Low self-esteem
- Gender identity confusion
- Body image disturbance
How Do We Recognize Body Shaming?
Today’s society often has narrow and shallow beauty ideals that pressure young individuals to look a certain way. The inability to conform to those social norms has driven a lot of people to engage in unhealthy behaviors and eating habits in hopes that they could look like their favorite celebrities and idols.
When someone comes up to you and tells you how “brave” you are for sporting the kind of clothes you’re wearing at the moment, that’s an example of a backhanded compliment. Instead of being a form of praise, it expresses the message of, “Why do you think you can pull off such an outfit with the body that you have?”
Recognizing body shaming is the first step in dealing with other people’s negative behaviors and practices. Body shaming manifests in many forms, some of which are indirect and covered in sarcasm.
Dealing With Body Shaming: Improving Mental Health
Each of us is uniquely beautiful in our own way. Don’t let anyone get the upper hand and throw negative comments at you just to make you feel ashamed of your own body. Take control and know how to deal with body shaming so you can put body shamers in their place.
Practice Self-Love and Body Positivity
Body positivity is all about self-acceptance. Being satisfied with your appearance is a form of self-love. Be grateful for what you have and the fact that your mind and body are healthy and functioning well.
If you have issues with your skin or body and would like to improve it, do it for the sake of feeling good and improving your self-esteem, not because of other people’s opinions. Taking the first step to body acceptance is a big leap in overcoming body shaming.
When taking photos with friends or family, perhaps you often stand behind your companions to conceal how your body looks and avoid being body shamed. While that may seem like a good method to protect yourself from negativity, it won’t do you any good in the long run.
Be proud of your body from head to toe. By hiding, you’re only allowing body shamers to get the best of you. The changes you want to happen should start from within, so the key is to accept the way you look no matter what.
Stop using layers of clothes as a shield from negative criticisms. You’re free to define your standards of beauty. Remember: you don’t need anyone’s permission to embrace your weight and shape.
Be Responsible and Accountable of Your Body
If you don’t like statements from friends or relatives that you know are meant to body shame you, speak up! As soon as you hear someone mention your size or say that you look bad, tell them that what they’re doing isn’t okay. This way, you can take charge of your body and how others perceive your appearance.
There may be some people, like your parents, who’ll drop a comment without any ill intentions. For example, they bring up topics such as your weight or what you’ve been eating lately.
While these are sensitive topics for certain individuals, they need to be talked about from time to time. If your family or friends end up using words that hurt you but you know that they only want what’s best for you, tell them about it so they can adjust and make the discussion more positive.
Clean Out Your Social Media
Body shaming on social media platforms is also known as cyberbullying. It’s a form of harassment with the use of the internet where your bullies can remain completely anonymous. They may intimidate you by sending direct messages (DMs) or posting comments, causing potential damage to your mental health and reputation.
The best way to tackle this situation is to block toxic people online and delete harmful comments as often as you can. It’s your social media account, so you have every right to determine who can access your posts. Follow influencers who promote positivity and inspire you to improve your health and lifestyle. Taking such measures would allow you to have a more body-positive feed.
Believe That You Have a Great Body
Be thankful for your body that functions well and enables you to do everything from eating to going shopping to walking your dog. Count your blessings and not what you’re missing. Stop wasting time going after perfection if you don’t want to find yourself left with equal parts disappointment and exhaustion.
Being human means that you’re flawed, so embrace your imperfections and live without shame. Be kind to yourself. Life’s too short to let society dictate how you should feel. More importantly, treat your body with respect, kindness, and self-love at all times.
Weight Stigma and Eating Disorders
Weight stigma refers to the ideologies and discriminatory acts targeted toward individuals with body weights and sizes listed outside the social norm. It’s the result of weight bias.
For example, people who are overweight are often stereotyped to have low willpower, be lazy, and have bad hygiene. This suggests that their obesity is their fault since they don’t have an active lifestyle. This completely ignores the fact that the reason behind their weight could be biological or cultural factors.
The most common misconception about weight stigma is that it encourages people to develop healthier habits out of the fear of being overweight. However, weight stigma may lead to eating disorders since it puts pressure on people to look a certain way.
Why Do We Need to Stop Body Shaming?
It’s true that it takes a great amount of courage to accept our bodies as they are, especially if we supposedly don’t meet society’s standards of beauty and perfection.
Take a moment to listen to other people talk around you. You might hear them casually mention “how Dan suddenly gained weight” or mock sympathy for “that fat guy” while assuming he isn’t happy with his life because of his weight. The sad truth is that we’ve built a hierarchical society based on appearance and weight.
Fat shaming isn’t just done by mean individuals or bullies; sometimes, we may do it to ourselves without even knowing it. Some of us have body issues that we try to hide using clothes and makeup because we’re ashamed of how we look. We also spend time comparing and criticizing appearances with very little attempt to appreciate abilities. In the end, we become the victims of the social diversities that we’ve created.
Seek Professional Help
It’s not easy for everyone to resist participating in body shaming. It’s equally difficult to start accepting your body and appearance as they are like you’re supposed to. If you need assistance and support in accomplishing either goal, Counseling Now is always ready to help.
Here at Counseling Now, we have the best team of psychologists, counselors, and professionals who can help you cope with life’s challenges. Let us help you take meaningful advances to improve your mental condition. Contact us now for more information about our services.