Body Shaming: Enough is Enough

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Published on April 21, 2015

You take a deep breath and look up at your mirror.  Reflected back at you is your naked body. You just stand there and stare, picking apart every little thing that is wrong with it.

The reason no one likes or accepts their body is because they are constantly shown perfect bodies that are unattainable. Body shaming is defined as inappropriate negative statements and attitudes toward another person’s weight or size.

Ever since I was in the seventh grade I have been told that I am too thin, by peers, doctors, teachers, and even my own parents. Standing at 5’ 6,” weighing in at a whopping 103 lbs (the most I have ever weighed) is a girl who is uncomfortable in her own skin. According to a height and weight chart women with a small frame who are the same height as I am normally weigh around 120-133 lbs, making me roughly 17 pounds underweight. What does not help with my problem is the fact that I take a medication that has a side effect of suppressing my appetite, making it impossible for me to even think about eating while taking it. Luckily, I only take it on weekdays, making weekends a full on pig out.

In addition to being called too thin I have been called other things, such as “anorexic,” “gross,” “flat,” “spider legs,” “skinny b***ch,” etc. I have had people who I do not even know come up to me and tell me to “eat a cheeseburger.” It is ridiculous to think that people have the audacity to go up to someone and start telling them what to do with their body. I would never go up to someone who is overweight and tell them to “eat a salad.” What does that prove? Nothing. Who is it helping? No one.

Just because I am thin does not mean that I am perfect or that I love my body. Yes, having a fast metabolism makes my life easier. But the body shaming that comes along with my body sometimes makes it not worth having. Everyone always says to me, “I wish I had your problems.” But they do not understand what I have to go through to find a pair of pants that actually fit me, and forget about trying on skirts.  Most of them fall right off of me. I cannot wear any kind of bottoms that do not have belt loops because I need a belt to keep them up.

The media constantly body shames and teaches us that it is okay. In today’s world one cannot walk through a supermarket without seeing at least one celebrity gossip magazine with a cover that talks about how a celebrity dramatically gained weight or dramatically lost weight. Most of the time the inside of that same magazine will have a four page feature talking about the celebrity’s weight.

It is not only the media who is constantly body shaming, it is also us. We constantly body shame not only ourselves, but also others. Many times if we are unhappy about our weight we will try to feel better about it by comparing ourselves to others. There are countless pictures on the internet with phrases such as, “Real men like curves, bones are for dogs,” also, “Real women have curves.” In contrast there are pictures with phrases saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” or “You’re fat. Don’t sugarcoat it, cause you’ll eat that too.” These phrases are all negative and attack a person based on their body type. No one’s insecurities should be projected on to someone else.

A positive saving grace that has recently breached is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Based on the findings of a major global study, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. Among the study’s findings was the statistic that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful. Since 2004, Dove has employed various communication vehicles to challenge beauty stereotypes and invite women to join a discussion about beauty. In 2010, Dove evolved the campaign and launched an unprecedented effort to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, with the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty mission statement is so positive, and I can really see this movement making a huge difference in widening the definition of beauty among women.

This movement can greatly change the negative attitude towards one’s own weight and one’s view on others’ weight. What I believe that truly needs to change is the influence the media has over people. Once everyone stops using the media’s standards, they can focus on their own bodies and not worry about what everyone else thinks. Accepting your body’s imperfections can help end body shaming.