A glimpse into the world of body shaming.

In this life, every one of us has our own insecurities and we deal with them each and every day;  whether they are about our weight, size, physical appearance, socio- economic status and many other factors. 

Hence, we can say that we have and may still experience the emotions associated with feelings of being insecure from time to time. However  our insecurities become our woes when other people take advantage of them by highlighting them in public or in a private setup and thus, turning them into weaknesses. When this happens, the victim may fall prey to one or more negative feelings which include but, not limited to embarrassment, self-doubt, anxiety, sadness, fear, low self-esteem, feeling of worthlessness, anger and lack of confidence and self-image.

While it may be clear that some people do this deliberately which is unethical and can be termed as acts of cowardice and ignorance, others may be unaware of the fact that they are taking advantage of an individual’ s weakest points by highlighting them because some of these incidents take place among close friends, peers, siblings and other family members. 

Today’s discussion is centered on body shaming as I believe it is one of the most prevailing challenges that people,  especially the youths are facing in today’s world.  

Before going further into my deliberations, it is imperative to define what body shaming is as it is one of most common ways that people utilize in order to capitalize on a particular person’s insecurities.

Body shaming is defined as the act of deriding or mocking a person’s physical appearance. It’s scope of study is broad as it includes acts of fat-shaming, size and shape shaming, height-shaming, shaming due to hairy body for females or lack of hairiness for males (who are unable to grow beards or moustaches),  shaming of one’s lack of  masculinity or femininity,  shaming of physical appearance including facial features.

As a result, this act is depicted as a form of bullying whereas a person’s physical appearance is targeted and although body shaming refers to a person’s physical appearance, it has the power to negatively affect the victim’s mental and physical faculties For instance, body shaming has a negative impact on people’s mental well-being,  social health as well as t professional lives in that they begin to face challenges of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, self- worth and self- image, anxiety, sadness, anger, depression, hate and many other effects. In some cases, people that are body shamed tend to resort to fatal acts that they feel may ease their pain or prove to be a possible solution to the body shaming. For instance, victims may resort to plastic surgery, starvation or intake of toxic and unhealthy substances to lose weight in order to achieve perfection in their body shapes and skin color while, others resort to cutting as a way of coping with depression and anxiety and often times, the perpetrators are not aware of the harm they have caused on someone and so they might continue doing it on the particular person or someone else. 

There have been media reports about people who have committed suicide due to the fact that they got tired of being victimized over their physical appearances and imagine the guilt that now weighs on those who  helped this particular person meet their end because of their words. 

As such, knowing that communication is irreversible and carries alot of weight which can either build or destroy, it is imperative for us, especially the youth to mind what we say to others because even a compliment like ‘You ‘ve lost weight and look great’ can be a body shaming statement to someone who prefers to be have a curvy plum body just as much as it is disheartening when one is told that they have gained weight. 

Marshall McLuhan predicted that the media would bring about an utopian world, encompassed by perfection in people and things and today, with the emergence of global media and the internet, pop culture has brought about the global principles of perfectionism whereas those who do not act accordingly are depicted as misfits and are shamed for being different. McLuhan’predictions may have come true due to graphics, special effects, editing, make-up, fashion and style but, all this has driven us away from reality; and ethical reasoning concerning what should be said and what should not be said. Our social media networks are full of body shaming messages, normalized so that it’s hard to even tell people that what they are doing is wrong.  What we must understand is that the entertainment media is all about profit and they just doing what they are doing to increase their profits, it’s a job just like any other and though some of their messages may be untrue, they will try to create media content that will attract your attention, therefore not everything the media sells should be normalized as the way of life in our societies. 

On that note, let us seize from harming others with our comments whether a celebrity or an ordinary person out there. 

In the same vein, the following are some messages of affirmation for those facing challenges of body shaming in their lives.

The first step to conquering body shaming is to have a positive attitude, it’s what everyone says but Googling a few Postive affirmations and repeating them to yourself is KEY! Every morning tell yourself, “you love the skin you’re in.” every time some says something negative remember you are one of a kind, you are original and beautiful, your imperfections are not flaws but a different blueprint.

It’s hard because people will always talk, but having confidence no matter what size you are is the key to finding peace

Effie Thangalimodzi, Malawi.

Body Confidence doesn’t come by trying to achieve the perfect body size. It comes from embracing the one that you have.

Zaali….Falls FM, Li

Zaali… Livingstone, Zambia.

So often after hearing horrible or simple comments about my body I could cry and bury myself into movies, social media, cooking, or something just to get those words out of my head. Eventually, I started identifying myself with those words, and those questions and comments kept on ringing in my mind… I was so miserable and thought of myself as unworthy, ugly, and all. I started slowly withdrawing from everybody and the things I liked to do. The book of proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” And that’s what began happening to me, I was becoming that ugly girl…But thank God I was surrounded by people who could and still make me feel better about myself and urge me to see myself as an amazing and beautiful girl, Psalms 139:14 says
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” The important thing about us is not what we look like, but that we have the potential of becoming a member of God’s family and being transformed into the image of God, and this is what grants me such great value in God’s sight. That’s what I want to pass to you today, God created you and me in His image, in His Glory, and to His Glory, with different characteristics and abilities… always remember no one had any choice over his /her parents, race, skin color, intelligence, physical appearance, or his natural abilities, they all came to us by birth and they all came from God. So accept, embrace, and love who you are, for you, are precious, amazing, and like the verse says, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Think about this just as a rainbow has different colours blended together so beautifully we are different some are curvy, straight, small size, big sizes we are all different and unique. You are an authentic version of who you so embrace yourself today.

Grancinda Mara Mahumane, Mozambique.

How can one overcome body shaming?

Body shaming has been a serious cause of anxiety especially among the female folk. From time immemorial, society has been awash of messages not only telling us about how we should look but also giving us the standard of beauty. With the emergence of massive use of social media that is multi-modality in nature, the problem has become worse.

Social media today is flooded with celebrity pictures, videos and comments that are all giving a standard of beauty and promoting what they deem as normal body size.

Majority of teen girls, ladies and women are trying so hard to live according to what is trending and being popularized in social spaces. In fact, they feel like they owe society an opinion figure, big booty, bikini body, strawberry thighs, flat tummy and pneumatic breasts, among others.

What is happening seems so normal that women do not realize that the messages telling them to change their bodies are not good enough. In effort to achieve the idolized body size, women are doing all sorts of bizarre things ranging from self-starvation to abuse of drugs. This is something that must change.

The prerequisite to this change is self-acceptance. We must learn to accept who we truly are before others get to accept us. We also must realize that there are some things on our bodies we totally have no control over. For example, no one has control over their height, sex, eye color and even the body size though this one is debatable. The point being stressed here is that, no man or woman exercises their will on these things.

Moreover, women must realize that they owe no one a big booty, bikini body, flat tummy and pneumatic breasts. All these things are but mere opinions of well-placed people who tend to forget that God gave excellence to us as a replacement for perfection.

There is certainly nothing wrong in embracing your original self. God created us in all forms: chubby, voluptuous slim, plump, big, small, white, black and so forth. Perhaps, God created us so because variety is the soul of beauty. We cannot all be the same, no!

Ollus Ndomu, Zambia.

Fat,thin or inbetween
We are all beautiful focus on yourself and things you love about you,Don’t compare yourself to anybody
And if someone shames you over what you dont have power over,dont be bothered cause its a reflection of how they feel about themselves inside.
Be happy,stay positive and always remember you are perfect just the way you are made and you need no validation from the world to feel beautiful.
Always remember to love yourself regardlessly

Ronah Lumbuka, Zambia.

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