The Shame Game
A look at body shaming from the eyes of a teenage girl
Over the years, the ridicule towards models for their figures has been no secret. We as a society recognize that being shamed for being overweight is an issue, but does anyone truly realize how wrong it is and how cruel it can be to tell an underweight individual to “eat a burger?” Has anyone taken the time to stop and think about how that may affect others, and how ashamed victims of body shaming must feel? Oppressed individuals often feel tight-lipped when presented with cruel comments. Placing a distorted stereotypical mold on someone’s entire being just because they are not considered ‘normal weight’ is wrong. People consider themselves either too fat or too thin, and they feel pressured to fit into a standard.
Whether the ridicule comes in the form of “Do you have an eating disorder?” or “Stop eating, you’ve had enough,” people need to address body shaming as a consequential issue on a daily basis. We are no strangers to whispers, rumors and insulting jabs in regards to weight. Although the problem affects us, we, as society, are part of the problem. We say things that we might not intend to offend others, which is why it’s important to stop, learn to avoid body shaming, and accept all body types.
Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, authors of intuitiveeating.com, define intuitive eating and discuss its benefits. They say intuitive eating, becoming in-tune with your body’s natural hunger signals and eating sufficiently when you are hungry, is an empowering habit that creates a good relationship with food. Practicing intuitive eating leaves your body in a healthy state and maintains a stable weight. Many people “emotionally eat”, which in return prevents a good sense of body acceptance. Many physical and emotional benefits are associated with this habit, such as proactive coping skills, pleasure from eating, increases in “good” cholesterol (HDLs), and most importantly, an improved well-being and can diminish a person’s “thin ideal”. Intuitive eating could be the key to ending the self silencing horrors of body shaming.
Here’s a few tips on how to steer clear from body shaming towards yourself and others:
- Come to the realization that it’s counterproductive.
Once you give in to body shaming, it progresses into a negative cycle within yourself and other people. It doesn’t benefit anyone and affects both sides negatively. Body shaming corresponds to bullying, do not contribute to the issue.
- Choose foods that you enjoy eating.
As long as you feel healthy and you are taking good care of your body, you will less likely fall into body shaming yourself and others. Practicing intuitive eating can very well put you on the right track.
- Never feel guilty for your food choices.
Health should always come first, and proper health is about feeling revitalized and settling your mindset. Eliminate fear towards foods and never feel the need to restrict yourself. Your health is your wealth.
- Just because they are models on magazines, does not make them role-models.
Altered magazine covers and most celebrity coverage on social media platforms are most certainly not there for you to strive to mirror what you see. Extreme proportions should not set subjective standards, cut yourself some slack.
- Wear what makes you happy.
Don’t let body size get in the way of your clothing choice. Liberate yourself and reveal your true character through clothes. Shoes and clothes don’t care about how much you weigh. Wear what you feel is flattering, no one controls your feelings but you.
- Display a good body-positive attitude upon yourself and others.
Fight the anti-fat bias. Not only will you implement the spread of good habits upon others, but there are actually health benefits to body-positivity. Not everyone looks the same, and not everyone eats the same; set a good example, put an end to the prejudice.
- It’s divisive and will only keep you apart from others.
Always call out limiting ideas like “curvy-but-not-obese” when they are heard. Shaming comments do not get less damaging the more overweight a person is. You should respect other’s eating habits, even if yours are different.
- It does not “work”.
Shame is just as motivating as guilt, which is to say, not effective whatsoever. If there is a body size at which you would stop tolerating, assess your issue, find the line you would draw, and erase it.
- Appreciate what your body does for you.
Your body works extra hard to keep your heart beating, keep your legs powerful enough to walk, and keeps your arms strong enough to carry the things you love. Do not take these things for granted. The most valuable thing to everyone could be appearance, but our bodies are great at what they do, and we should never overlook that.