Body Shaming Is Normalized, Let’s Unpack That.
No matter how old we get, we will always find ourselves back in the vicious cycle of self-deprecation. Trends and messages from the media often imply that we should change ourselves and try to fit the ideal, Eurocentric beauty standards. Ever since I was young, the size of my body has always been a topic of conversation, one way or another. At the parties with family friends, or the boys during elementary school who thought they were doing something cool, I’ve always been considered the chubby kid. There was no doubt about that and sometimes body shaming is concealed as a compliment (depending on some people). However, most of the time, the person on the receiving end of that compliment sees it as anything but.
Where Can It Occur?
Disclaimer: Please take this with a grain of salt. These are from my experiences and from what other people have experienced as well.
In Filipino culture, when a Tita or Lola tells you “you’ve gained so much weight!” with a smile, they most likely believe they’re being kind. It is a way to let the person know, “I can tell you’ve been eating a lot, therefore you’re healthy”. And yes, that may be true. However, it is still very contradicting. Many Filipinos, women specifically, want to essentially be “skinny”, or make their skin “lighter” which is ultimately them trying to fit the Eurocentric beauty standard. I have many other Filipino friends who’ve experienced getting skinny shamed and/or fat shamed. Regardless of the size of your body, somebody telling you to eat less, or to eat more is going to hurt. This is a problem in my opinion because, why would you tell me how big I’ve gotten and tell me how healthy I look when the appearance you’re trying to achieve for yourself is what I’m not.
As a woman, I’ve believed for a long time that I should care about looking taller or leaner with sculpted abs and a big butt. As a man, they should focus on gaining bigger muscles or not showing their emotions in order to stay masculine. Yes, these are all just stereotypes and generalizations and I know “chubby”, “fat”, or “healthy” are not insults—but they’ve all come from some sort of truth and ill intent at some point in time.
What Is Body Shaming?
Body shaming is known as the action or practice of expressing humiliation about another individual’s body shape or size; a form of bullying that can result in severe emotional trauma, especially at a young age. Body shaming is done by parents, siblings, friends, enemies, and schoolmates and is often portrayed in the media.
I would like to believe that we’ve been getting better. In recent years there have been many more body positivity movements, and body positivity advocates, but we still have a long way to go. I used to have a decent relationship with food growing up. But, the more I got involved in social media the more I developed an unhealthy relationship with it. In 9th grade, I worked out a lot; I lost a ton of weight, and I restricted myself from eating a lot of the foods I used to love eating before. Maybe in the moment I was happy with my body, but there was no doubt I still believed something was wrong with the way I looked.
Body image was the reason I never embraced my self image. It was always when I was feeling more bloated than usual, or when somebody told me I gained weight. It never felt like my efforts were enough because I didn’t look like a runway model or celebrities on magazine covers. At the end of the day, my body is mine and amidst the Instagram models, the one-meal a day diet, and calorie counting, I forgot to accept my body for what its purpose. My body is meant to keep me alive and functioning. Eventually, I learned that bodies are not just for appearance, but they are meant for living. Body shaming has taught me to accept my body for what it is because I always love it regardless of how I view myself on certain days. Everyone needs self-confidence, but we must also be careful about the comments we share regarding someone’s body. We will never understand how hard they have worked to look the way they do, and I would never want to discredit someone for their efforts.
Overall, we must always be kind—even I don’t think that’s too daunting of a task.