Where is your thigh gap? Why don’t you do something about your buck teeth? You are skinny, don’t you eat well? Society has so many questions about the way we look, but I want to ask one question to society. Does anyone get to decide how you and I look?
The constant struggle to fit into the “perfect ideals” has nurtured an era where body shaming has almost become acceptable. Body shaming is the ridiculing of a person’s body structure, size, or color that leads the victim to criticize and developing feelings of self-hate towards their bodies.
It is important to note that a misconception lies within the body-shaming issue. Most of us think that women are the ones who are targeted. That is partly right: women are the most vulnerable to body shaming. However, there exists no gender bias when it comes to commenting on one’s appearance. Women, men, and transgender people are equally subjected to body shaming. Women are taunted for the size of their breasts, men on their facial hair, and transgender people for the tonality of their voices.
Even celebrities come under attack because of the unrealistic standards set by society. It might sound surprising, but Vin Diesel, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Emma Stone have been body shamed. Closer to home, the Bollywood actress Vidya Balan was constantly fat-shamed. Initially, she criticized herself but now she does not look at herself through the same lens. However, not everyone fights back with confidence; sadly, some resort to taking extreme measures.
The stigmatization of a person’s appearance stems from setting up superiority or authority over others. Today’s society heavily relies on validation from strangers on social media. The power we give social media to dictate our every emotion or action affects us negatively. Before posting a picture on Instagram, we take at least ten photos, spend hours editing and photoshopping them, and finally craft the perfect caption. But why? To seek validation and not draw any negative comments. Even after all this effort, when someone comments on your acne scars or frizzy hair, we at once set out to find the perfect cure for these issues. Would be lying if I said I was any different.
Sometimes friends and family do this mental assault because they are concerned, but when the limit is crossed it can not only affect a person’s emotional state and endanger their life. I have been a witness to a friend inflicting pain on herself because she felt that her body didn’t fit the standards that society had outlined. Low self-esteem develops because of body shaming.
Weight shaming leads to dangerous eating disorders like anorexia (loss of appetite) and bulimia (binge-eating). Such unhealthy behaviors can mentally affect the person as well as cause long-term physical harm.
Expressing one’s opinion is not wrong; in fact, it is a right that democracy ensures. But we must be cautious that these opinions are not derogatory. Let’s ask ourselves if a person’s worth needs to be judged based on their body. Genes, health issues, and lifestyles determine our bodies’ appearance. Every human has a different body structure, skin color, hair texture, and many others: that is what makes us beautiful!
A mother with stretch marks on her belly is not ugly; those are the battle scars that she proudly wears. A dark complexion means less money spent on tanning. Let us embrace our bodies for the way they are. Embrace body positivity. The next time someone points out a flaw, do not put yourself down. Instead, feel confident and remember: imperfection is what makes you unique.
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