How to Deal with Body Shaming?
How to deal with body shaming and start loving yourself? Body shaming is defined by how we criticize others or ourselves based on physical shape, size or appearance of a body. Body shaming has covert and overt forms. Some more covert forms come in marketing when the tag line tells us that a specific product or method can get us ‘bikini body ready.’ Any form of bikini body ready advertisement amounts to body shaming because it sends this cover message that somehow, I’m not good enough for that.
What Is Body Shaming
We’re inundated with this idea that our bodies are supposed to fit a specific mold. Again, covertly, we’re given these messages of what the perfect physical body is supposed to look like. Granted, there’s more than one, but you still get the message.
- Blonde hair
- Slim physique
- Brown or red hair
- Thin or muscular physique
- Feisty attitude
Forms Of Body Shame
- You criticize your own appearance based on comparisons you’ve made between yourself and someone else
- Self-hatred and poor self-esteem that occurs as a result of you being ashamed of your body
- You criticize other people either in front of them or behind their backs
- Others criticize you
- Covert body shaming through media, marketing, and social media feeds.
Behaviors Of Body Shaming
Body shaming comes down to body image. This is dependent upon how we see our bodies when we look in the mirror. It’s unfortunate, but our minds show us what we believe we should see. These images are often formed by messages we’ve received about what a “healthy,” or “desirable” body looks like. Largely, these messages come from our societal lenses. We all want to be accepted and loved. Individuals who were bullied for their body sizes and types as children tend to commit the worst sin: Self body shame
These messages don’t have to be direct. They can be indirect, and unintentional. For example: A young girl who watches how adults around her react when a friend of hers is found out to be bulimic can be informed on body image by those adults.
If the adults react badly, or negatively, and shame the bulimic friend in some way, the young girl witnessing this can create an opinion of body image through this lens. Later in life, she may hold an opinion that all people who are “too skinny” must be bulimic like her childhood friend, and resort to body-shaming individuals she views as “too skinny” as a mechanism of some sort.
Body shaming behaviors often include:
- Fad dieting rather than focusing on proper and healthy nutrition and eating habits
- Refusing to allow yourself to indulge, have that piece of cake, or glass of wine.
- Idolizing the media token of what the “perfect body” or “bikini body” is.
- Shaming people who are “too fat,” “too skinny,” “too tall,” “too short,” or have freckles, imperfect teeth, different hair styles, or an odd sense of fashion.
- Even judging people for their expressions of sexuality.
Dealing With Internal Body Shame
Fortunately, like any dysfunctional behavior, there are ways to deal with body shaming, regardless of where it’s coming from or who it’s aimed at.
We are so ingrained with what the ideal body should look like by society and such that this idea feels like the truth. What’s worse is that we often fight against the truths of the matter. Body shaming is not okay!
Nobody is going to fit society’s perfect model- especially through your own eyes. Your body image, not body size or shape, will have a more profound impact on your interpersonal relationships because many things affect the way we are perceived.
Since body shaming contributes to low self-esteem, and confidence it can impact what kind of boundaries you set in relationships, how you allow yourself to be treated, and who you choose to continue relationships with.
- Choose the messages you see and hear.
- Stop hiding
- Challenge your inner bully
- Show some gratitude.
How do you stop shaming yourself?
A large part of your body image is going to be informed by those covert bikini body media packages. Marketing often elicits an emotional response because our emotions are spiked by what we choose to pay attention to. (Source)
- Share your body shame with someone you trust. If you want to make peace with your body and your feelings about food, you need to talk about it. If you do not want to share it with a friend or loved one, write about it in a journal or private blog. Share your body shame stories with a professional or join an online support community. Talking about your body image issues can help you learn to deal with them and take steps toward overcoming the habits that have led to this point.
- Be selective of the ads you click on in your feed, stop following weight loss and biking body pages, and switch up the conversations you have. You can even go so far as to clicking that (…) that’s in the top right corner of most social media posts, and tap the unfollow, see less of, or spam tab.
- When we’re ashamed of our bodies, we try to hide so it’s time to stop. Hiding can take the form of wearing unnecessary layers, not speaking up – or speaking up for yourself- when you need to or should, choosing to forgo a night out with the boys or girls, not dating because you feel unworthy, etc.… If you have to, take small steps, but come out from behind the divider and make your beautiful self-known.
- We all have that inner voice. It helps us solve complex problems, reminds us when something is a bad idea, and shoots insults whenever we step out of line. It’s time to develop your intrapersonal relationship, and work on loving yourself. You may be at odds with that inner voice, but that voice is you.
- If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, mother, or baby brother or sister, then don’t say it to yourself. Take the time to encourage that bully to speak up so you can hear what it’s saying. After you’ve heard it, take note of how you feel. Now that you have a baseline, challenge it whenever the bullying rears its ugly head.
- Finally, show some gratitude. Your body is the only one you’re ever going to get. It’s taken you everywhere you’ve ever been, and it’s lasted this long.
- If you feel that your shame issues are overwhelming and you find these feelings difficult to control please seek help from a mental health professional, these issues can be solved, and you will be healthier and happier.
How to Deal with Body Shaming From Your Parents Or Family Members?
Externally, body shaming can come from family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, trolls, and complete strangers. Any time this happens, there are basically three things you can do. (Source)
- Confront the comment or incident head on
- Ignore the person
- Walk away
We’ve all experienced a time when a stranger had something to say about our bodies. Sometimes it’s direct, and sometimes the words are spoken behind our back on the presumption that we can’t hear.
Other times, family member who genuinely mean well have no idea how hurtful their words are. Trolls will make “beached whale” comments just to get a rise out of a content creator, and friends may make comments not even aware of how their words are being received.
It’s very simple. You can confront the body shaming message head on with a simple:
- I don’t appreciate your comment
- I like my Marilyn mole, thank you very much
You can ignore the comments, refuse to give trolls the attention they want, or allow well-meaning family and friends the opportunity to reflect on their comments. Or you can simply turn and walk away. Often, your course of action and how you deal with body shaming, whether it’s internal or external, is going to depend on the situation and your good judgement. Nonetheless, it should always be dealt with.
Stay confident and take care!
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