What is body shaming and why do people body shame?

“The first time I was body shamed, I was a 10 year old in Junior Secondary School. My classmate called me “ugly” for some flimsy reason. That statement stayed with me for 7 long years and they shaped my perception of me.

Funny but true, I never looked in the mirror nor took pictures for fear of seeing an “ugly” face. I struggled with low self-esteem. I never saw myself as one worthy of compliments. If one was to say “I love your smile” or “Your physique is great”, I would believe they were flattering me. It was that bad. It was my best friend in the university that talked me out of it the hold the negative effects of that statement had on me.

Body shaming takes a lot from a person. It scars. It leaves one mentally, psychologically, physically and socially distressed.”

Ayanfe, 24 years

What is body shaming?

When we constantly hear negative comments about our bodies, they can take a huge toll on our mental health and self esteem. Body shaming has now become a norm and culture in most societies.

Body shaming is the act of passing demeaning or degrading remarks about a person’s body size, height, skin tone/color, age (ageism) or perceived attractiveness (lookism). It is amazing that body shaming is usually done by families, friends and folks.

Body shaming can lead to mental health issues including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dysmorphia, as well as the general feeling of hating one’s body.

In a recent interview with Vogue Billie Eilish, the Grammy Award winning star revealed that if she was shamed from when she was 11, “I don’t think I would be able to exist, to be honest,” she said. This brings to the fore the wreckage body shaming does to its victims.

Targets of body shaming

The targets of body shaming are mostly people who are: either weighty or skinny, not considered to be attractive (lookism), beyond a particular age, hairy or who choose a particular fashion sense.

Teens, also suffer the onslaught of this act and this in no small ways, shape the perception they have of themselves. As teens grow into adolescence-hood, they become very sensitive to remarks made about their bodies. Young girls with small boobs desire big ones if they are laughed at. Young boys want to be more muscular.

No one is safe from being body shamed for one thing or the other. It is the trend. Today, a person can suffer a backlash from internet trolls for how they choose to look.

Why do people body shame?

People body shame others for diverse reasons. And these reasons are neither valid nor satisfactory because of the diversity and uniqueness of humans. Some of the reasons border around: High standards for looks, fashion sense, body sizes/weights, age, food, choices of the victims.

Do you know, that you may have body shamed a person at least, once in your life?

You may not be conscious of this fact because body shaming as fiercely become a culture.

Effects of body shaming

Body shaming has a myraid of negative effects on its victims. These effects can be mental, pychological or sociological.

Some of them are:

Low self-esteem
Eating disorders
Psychological distress
Body dysmorphic disorder
Anxiety, etc.

In a nutshell, body shaming will do us no good. Although, it’s now the norm, we shouldn’t take part in it. We should choose to be more body-inclusive by accepting and celebrating the diversity of shape, appearance, height, color and weight.

Igho-Uloho Divine

Igho-Uloho Divine is a writer and school teacher. She loves writing and sees it as a medium to share her thoughts, educate and inform. 
Her interests spans different areas including personal development, EdTech and content writing. 

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