BODY SHAMING: EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS

While growing up, one of the things I had a phobia for was ‘mirror’- yes, you heard me right, a mirror. I always try to avoid anything that could show my physique from head to toe. I only do with the small mirror hung on a wall that would show only my face. When I see my tiny figure, I so much desire to put on weight and be sure breezes won’t take me away. It’s, therefore, a very big shame when friends or the opposite sex talk about my skinny body – to me, it was just like a stigma then; I needed an escape route from my mother nature.

We are created differently, so is our body. Humans cannot have the same physique. It’s either you are tall or short, slim or fat, black or light skin, etc. We are all created in our best way, and that we have to appreciate. Body shaming, which is the abuse of the body, is one thing we just have to get over. Some people are fun of shaming others, despite not being perfect themselves. 

In an age where ‘body goals’ is as important as other goals set, many have found alternatives to measure up to the ‘body standards’ they really want. Drugs, exercises (Yoga), bleaching/toning creams, slimming tea, bra/butt pad and so on has been used by people as a solution to their own body shaming. This may actually have side effects.

I, therefore, made a research to know how people feel when they are body shamed and the measures taken to get over it if they are touched by what people say. I put the question on this topic to some friends (both sexes and different body shapes & color) on my WhatsApp contact list to know their views. Their comments are below:

Tosin Tolu: I have been body-shamed most especially on my stature. A lot of people tend to see me as one small girl because I have a very petite stature and a babyface. I always feel very ashamed of myself and to worsen the case, they call me and ask about my school and all. It was so annoying. I, however, snapped back to reality and start feeling myself and always thank God for the stature & look he gave me not minding anyone’s opinion or say over my look.

Dr. Ife: I really don’t put my mind on being abused for my stature. People have their own opinions and everybody can’t be like me.

Lawrencia: I’m the worst person to ask this question (as a beauty queen lol!). I find a way to reply to the few negative comments and never take it seriously. My reply also depends on my relationship with the person. I give it to you back immediately because I’m never short of words.

Ikechukwu: People used to call me different names because of my skinny body. Some say ‘paper’, others say ‘figure 1,’ all because of my slim body. There was a day a lady told me she’ll spit if I could be on top of her; it was so serious. I, however, learned many ladies really want the skinny guys. It was then I knew I’m the best of my kind. If Tekno could be ‘Slim Daddy’ then I picked ‘Slim Ike’. I just have to appreciate my body physique and don’t care about what people say.

Feyikemi: I try as much as possible to overlook and move on because my utterance to them would not be nice.

Aisha: Yes, I have been body-shamed repeatedly. I used to feel hurt, shamed and pained by the comments. They used to insult my round nose and small physique. I used to hate those parts of my body, I desperately wanted to change them. I used to hide and I was shy. It affected me psychologically. But now, I don’t really care about what people say about me. Sometimes it still hurt, but I’ve gotten over it. I move on by reminding myself that I’m beautiful. Even if I’m not Miss World or Universe. I love me.

HOW BODY SHAMING OCCUR

Body shaming manifest in many ways. It may be when you criticize your own appearance or through a judgment in comparison to another, for example when you say “How I wish I’m as cute as you”

It can manifest when you criticize another person’s appearance in front of them, for example when someone tells you “You’ll never find a man to marry you with that fat body” 

It can also manifest when you criticize another’s appearance without their knowledge, for example when you say “Have you seen your neighbor? She’s just too short for my liking”

HOW TO COPE WITH BODY SHAMING

Identify who in your life is body-positive – or even body-neutral: This reminds me of the song ‘Energy’ by Skepta featuring Wizkid – ‘bad energy stay far away’. Think of people who celebrate their body for what it can do, and people who refuse to comment on others’ physical appearances. Spend much of your time with people who can be helpful while you’re struggling with your own internalized body-shaming. This helps you view yourself and others more positively.

Confront those who perpetuate body-shaming: Once you’ve become more aware of your own body-shaming behaviors, you may notice how often your friends, family or co-workers do it. Talk to them. Discuss why it bothers you and help them see how it may also be hurtful.

Find something or things you like about your body/yourself: As much as I had body shaming then, I always appreciate my face. When people talk about me being skinny, I use my cute face to console myself. There’s actually something in you that makes you better than the other person. It may not be the physical look, it may be intelligence, voice, and so on. Just know that no one is better than you. You are just a perfect being.

If you have these reasons at the back of your mind, inferiority complex and other effects of body shaming won’t put you down. You just have to know you are the best of your kind.