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Body shaming can wreck your mental health! But these tips from 5 influential women can help

Published on:29 November 2020, 11:00am IST
Body-positivity starts with you. Just keep at it and keep reminding yourself that you are more than just your body, and say no to body shaming.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Body shaming can affect one’s mental health. Say no to body shaming! Image courtesy: Facebook/Priyanka Chopra | Vidya Balan

Empowerment doesn’t just refer to professional success and financial stability but also the overall personality development of an individual. Empowering yourself requires you to confront your problems but not bow down to them. It involves you being open to changing your views based on your own personal experience. Hence, if you’re not changing and sticking to what you’ve been told by society, you’re keeping yourself away from empowerment.

When it comes to our views, we have plenty of them pertaining to our own selves. A majority of them are concerned with how we look. From television to magazine, most women have grown up being told that the perfect girl is slim, fair, humble, docile and quiet.

But, what about those women who are plus-sized, have a deformity, have too many tattoos or are too outspoken? The society might not find them palatable enough to call them perfect but who gave society that right, anyway? The only person who gets to decide is you. You need to shed societal expectations and accept every bit of yourself. This sentiment is what the body positivity movement is all about.

The biggest and the most recent example is the switch in the brand name of Fair & Lovely, a beauty cream that was extremely popular among ladies due to its claim of ‘lightening’ the skin colour. Now, ‘fair’ has been kicked out and ‘glow’ has replaced it.

body shaming
The world looks brighter when you’re in love with yourself! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Body positivity, or the anti-body shaming sentiment, is not a revolution but it is the voice of many unheard women. The women who are speaking up now were earlier living in a dilemma, feeling horrible about themselves every single day and dealing with turmoil in their heads. Frankly, being body-shamed on social media or in person does have an impact on your mental and physical health.

So, let’s understand what body shaming is and how affects our lives.

You usually pick the practice of body shaming others when you are just a child, says Dr Shivangi Pawar, consultant psychotherapist.

Criticising someone’s appearance for being ‘unconventional’ or not fitting into the societal mould amounts to body shaming. More often than not it is followed by the pressure to change in order to fit in with society. 

A recent study found out that 94 per cent of girls and 66 per cent of boys had already experienced body shaming by the time they became teenagers. This body shaming has the potential to result in mental illnesses like depression and anxiety later on in life.

“This sickening mentality behind body-shaming is deeply engraved in our society where being vulnerable and being empathetic are considered to be weaknesses. The thought process or the intention behind body shaming others mostly stems from a person’s own insecurities and inferiority complex,” said Dr Pawar. 

Most of the children pick up this toxic attitude of shaming someone for their body type from the elders around them who are constantly comparing themselves or their children to others. 

There are 3 ways in which body shaming can affect our mental health:
1. It can lead to depression

“The most common mental health concern currently is depression and body shaming is one of the leading causes of depression, especially in the younger demographic,” said Dr Pawar.

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Body shaming results in negative body image which causes an individual to start hating his/her own body. This provokes them to hurt themselves, giving rise to suicidal thoughts.

2. Eating disorders are another setback

Body shaming someone for their weight increases their risk of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. Body-shaming is a major psychological block in maintaining a healthy weight.

“The obese person who has been body-shamed tends to find comfort in binge-eating, resulting in further weight gain while underweight individuals who are body shamed for being skinny may experience a lack of appetite causing more weight loss,” she proclaimed.

3. Anxiety and lack of confidence is a common symptom

A person who experiences body shaming for a prolonged period of time develops a sense of self-pity, leading to lack of confidence. They see themselves as unworthy of happiness and respect, resulting in social withdrawal or complete isolation. If not treated in time, these people develop serious anxiety issues and even experiences panic attacks. This could also hamper their socio-economic status as they are unable to perform well in their careers due to constant anxiety and self-doubt.

Here are 5 phrases on body positivity from some of the most influential women that you can keep handy to stay positive:

1. “Since I don’t look like every other girl, it takes a while to be okay with that. To be different. But, different is good.” — Serena Williams

2. “I definitely have body issues, but everybody does. When you come to the realization that everybody does that—even the people that I consider flawless—then you can start to live with the way you are.” — Taylor Swift

3. “I have always maintained that it is important for women to embrace their curves, flaws, cellulite and even stretch marks. Most importantly, they must love themselves the way they are.” – Malaika Arora

4. “Weight used to be an issue; I was always fat as a child. Everyone used to tell me, you’ve got such a pretty face, why don’t you lose some weight? Over the years, I’ve realized that my body is of a certain type, and I have learned to accept it.” – Vidya Balan

5. “I want all the girls without an exception to have that space for themselves where they have ample opportunities to be the women they wish to be.” – Priyanka Chopra

Ladies, society will always have an opinion on how you look. You have to look past these opinions to emerge as a winner and learn to love yourself while you’re at it!

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.