Most of us have experienced body shaming; it is the act of which an individual is made embarrassed or self conscious about their physical appearance. This is a major issue for us as females but often times it happens to males as well.
There is this certain desired image that we all try to uphold, which is to be skinny and beautiful or athletic and handsome. Somehow, if we don’t meet those standards, we are judged negatively and seen as unattractive.
Our kids are at the mercy of this type of bullying daily. According to statistics, 94% of teenage girls and 64% of teenage boys have been made to feel ashamed about their bodies. This puts them in a state of self-hate and depression.
The negative and humiliating comments are not always at the hand of strangers but of our own friends and families.
It wasn’t uncommon to hear my relatives make criticizing comments towards my appearance. Matter of fact, it was uncommon NOT to hear them.
Tender Age Experience
Initially, those comments did not affect me negatively but with time they started to get under my skin. At the tender age of 7, I had this family member who would would call me “fat pig” with a smile on their face.
It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that what I was being called was something truly disgusting and detrimental to a little girl’s self image.
To date, they can still be caught calling me those words and I can choose to ignore them or call them out once and for all.
Note: If you say ANYTHING to a child with a smile on your face, they will see it as something positive whether it is or not.
As a teen I had what I would call “fat paranoia”. I was completely self-conscious about my body image. I would constantly be on a diet, avoided P.E (gym class) and netball just to escape having to wear the tiny shorts and the mini netball skirts — I thought they were cute, just not on me.
I not only “felt fat” but was constantly told that I was as well, which ultimately placed me in a state of self-hate.
Body Shaming Testimony:
This body shaming would also follow me into my adulthood. This one in particular just about knocked me off my feet. I clearly remember, at my first real job, I’d picked out what I thought was a very nice outfit.
A beautiful buttery yellow top that hugged my mid-section and flowed atop a caramel colored cropped pants with a pair of chocolate brown heels.
After returning from lunch when a coworker made a comment, not about my outfit but about the way my thighs rubbed together as I walked.
I was so shocked and embarrassed, plus it was said in front of others and before I could disappear everyone’s eyes were already staring into the crotch of my pants. I was so furious that I know I probably gave her one of my snappy “come-backs”.
Hurt people, hurt, people: (when hurting becomes a vicious cycle)
You see, as I endured the humiliation, I also developed what I call “thick skin” — a guard wall. I became a person who would hurt people before they could hurt me.
I “joined in” with the “hurters” to blend in from being hurt myself. I learned how to hurt people by body shaming them, intimidation and other forms of harassment before they could do it to me. I became exactly what I was terrified of, a bully.
How do you go from being the victim to the offender?
It all boils down to how the individual child responds to the bullying and their childhood development.
Not all children become bullies or “bully-victims” and not all children recover from bullying. They can sometimes go on to live a very troubled adult life or one that is completed unaffected.
According to a study conducted from 1970 to 2012, both victims and those who bully are both victims.
The bully would have been more likely to be exposed to negative parenting behavior, family experiences, abuse and neglect which can have adverse effects on a child’s outlook on life and shape their ability to cope in any form or fashion among their peers.
They tended to portray distinctive characteristics like;
I can truly go on and on about the psychological aspects of bullies and bully-victims because I have been there but..
Today this post is specifically about body shaming and I may have to write a separate post on other forms of bullying. For now, I will share how we can be more positive towards both our own and our children’s bodies and self images.
Steps To Improving Our Outlook On Our Self Images
1. Self-Confidence – We are all fearfully and wonderfully made despite what anyone thinks. It only matters what we think of ourselves. Once we see ourselves as beautiful and awesome, the body-shaming won’t be able to stand up to the confidence within.
2. Self-Bullying – While this is usually done by others or vice versa, we have been caught guilty bullying our own selves — the nasty comments we make as we stand in a full length mirror.
Try replacing the criticism with encouraging words and see the vast difference of our outlook on our self-images.
3. Avoid Comparing – No one person is the same with another. It is proven in identical twins, even though they may look the same to us, there are always a big difference between them.
Whether it be their personalities, their voices or even something as small as a beauty mole; the point I am trying to make is that we should never compare ourselves with others because everyone has their own individual beauty.
Comparing would only put us in a state of resentment towards our peers, ourselves and we would never be happy.
4. Our Children’s bodies – We should never criticize their bodies or appearances. If we suspect that our children are not making the best food choices and are gaining weight etc, there are ways to implement a healthier lifestyle on the entire household.
Chances are the pantry could probably use what I call a “purge”. If the outfits that our children choose to wear are inappropriate then we can suggest another without criticizing them.
5. Negative Gab – We should never talk negatively about our bodies to no one or to ourselves but especially not in front of our children.
Matter-of-fact, we should not be talking negatively about no one’s appearance, period. Not theirs, not ours, not nobody’s. Any negative thoughts that pop up in your head, nip them in the bud with a quickness.
6. Self-Respect – Learning and teaching our kids about self-respect and how it plays a role in their lives now and throughout life.
We must believe that we are good and worthy of every good thing that the world has to offer and carry ourselves with dignity and grace. Being examples for our kids will set them up to have a great outlook on their self image.
These are just a few ways that I have been rising above the imprisonment of shaming of any kind, especially body shaming.
What have you been doing to improve your outlook on this topic? Let me know in the comments.