Stop Body-Shaming - What Needs to Be Done

Medically reviewed by: Ilbey Ucar – PhD (Psychology)

Last updated date : January 18, 2023

You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, which is understandable. Not everybody will find your jokes funny, and not everyone will praise your kindness for what it is. People can have their own choices. But, not liking somebody just because his or her body isn’t up to the “acceptable” level is not very kind. After all, who are we to judge someone by looking at them? Don’t judge a book by its covers; turn the pages and see what wonders it carries. This article explains what body-shaming means, to whom it can happen, and what we should do to stop body-shaming.

“Learnt a lot from this course” Sally

51 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use
$9.00 $12.00

25% discount


Chapter 1:

What Is Body-Shaming?

Body-shaming refers to making fun of or mocking a person’s physical appearance. It is very commonplace. It can happen to any person from all walks of life. Acts of body-shaming are vast in scope and can include, although are not limited to,
  • Fat-shaming,
  • Shaming for thinness,
  • Height-shaming,
  • Shaming of hairiness (or hairlessness),
  • Hair-color,
  • Body-shape,
  • One’s muscularity (or lack of muscularity),
  • Shaming of looks (facial features),
  • Shaming of tattoos and piercings or diseases that leave a physical mark, such as psoriasis.

Couple of friends sitting at a table, two can't stop body shaming the other.

Out of all people we meet in life, some are sociable, while others are distant. We associate with people of many faiths and religions. Most of us have never considered the worth of these differences; they are simply what they are, and we value the diversity they bring to our lives.

Most of us have a different bunch of friends and family. We adore that uncle who can dance well. We love to listen to Aunt ‘Roberta’ singing. It is awesome to have a family portrait drawn by that uncle who is a painter. We accept all those skill sets which are unique to them but, do we, on the other hand, share the same acceptance of their body weight and physical appearance?

Haven’t you ever found yourself criticizing other people’s bodies? Do you find yourself recommending that others try this diet, have different foods, exercise more, or exercise differently? Haven’t you ever pointed out a body type you find hilarious or pity-worthy when you are with friends?  Do you feel sorry for “that poor man” because you believe they couldn’t be happy in such a “large” body? From today onwards, understand that it was bodyshaming all along and stop that kind of behaviour.

Chapter 2:

Is Society in the Wrong?

People use phrases like ‘couch potato’ and ‘go-getter’ to describe each other. Note how each of these words gives out contrasting vibes. ‘Go-getter’ is energetic, active, and motivated. The word feels like a characteristic of a hero, while the ‘couch potato’ gives out a rather ‘lazy, idle or inactive’ meaning. As the saying goes, looks indeed can be deceiving. People often make the mistake of applying this saying to negative instances. But why can’t we just use it positively? A hardy person with an athletic build can also be a book enthusiast, just like any other. Perhaps a “super small in size” is a genius celebrated by the whole world. What’s more, looks have nothing to do with the personality you have.

We are always too skinny or too fat or too tall or too short. We are shaming each other and we are shaming ourselves. And it sucks.”

-Emma Stone

The foundation of many of the show’s gags in sitcoms is overweight characters’ bodies. As of now, millennials, Generation Z are rediscovering the TV show “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.”. Some love it. Some don’t love the show, but controversies apart, I want to talk about how the show trashes “Fat Monica”. As a show, which first performed in front of an actual audience and included only the worthy scenes in the final cut after researching the level of laughter in the audience, I’d say the real problem lies with society. Obesity is no joke.

Read More : People Will AlwaysHave Something to Say- 6 Tips to Tackle Body Shamers

Chapter 3:

Anti Body-Shaming through Literature

Some authors, comic book writers, and film directors have made up their minds to put a stop to this bad trend of body shaming. They sure have used their literature for that purpose. For example, Hagrid, in the Harry Potter series, is described in The Philosopher’s Stone as ‘being twice as tall as the average man and nearly five times as wide’ by Rowling. It is a nice touch and also a conscious push against body shaming on Rowling’s part. Because in hindsight, it allows young adults to see that looks can be deceiving. Hagrid, although he looks a hardy man, is very kind and compassionate. In the same manner, in ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, Joe is portrayed as a gigantic man, but he is the one who sympathizes with Pip, the narrator.

No one looks at Hulk in the same light they look at an obese person because Hulk is a superhero. A green-coloured giant in the avenger series. People are in love with his superpower, which turns him into a giant monster-like creature. It’s high time we understand that society is full of Hulks. That is to say, we just need to change our perspective.

Who doesn’t love Shrek and Fiona? That’s another instance where people fell in love with an Ogre who is considered “a horrible, ugly beast”.

Read More : How to Stop Being the Fat Friend in Your Group?

Chapter 4:

Body-Shaming Thrives Online

Social media has various platforms where people all around the world can catch up with each other, share their opinions, thoughts on something and have feedback from millions of people. But, it does have a bad side to it. The ability to express any ideas or opinions has made it a dangerous medium of communication.

The norm is criticizing traits of our bodies as a way to relate with others. It is so ironic because even if we all despise our bodies, it makes us feel connected and united. Above all, Body shaming (judgment and criticism on physical appearance) can course abuse of judgment and criticism. The media and other people’s messaging often imply that we should desire change, that we should be concerned with looking thinner, smaller, and tanned.

People on social media are very much different from people you see in your everyday life. Take Tiktok as an example. Most of those who are popular on this new social media have slim bodies, smiling faces, and fascinating outfits. Moreover, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and many other platforms follow the same trend. They are in search of “likes”, “Comments” and “Followers” on these media. In these media, appreciation and popularity are based on your appearance.

Read More: Types of Body Shaming: Height Shaming

Chapter 5:

What Is Trolling?

Social media roots for the rise in trolling, but body-shaming is not a new thing. What is meant by ‘trolling’?

Most of us have to face “body shaming” on social media platforms, which is a major issue of receiving nasty comments when our bodies don’t meet society’s artificial beauty standards. Therefore, Social media has a huge impact on the lives of teenagers, girls, and young women. It has a negative impact on body image and promotes false beliefs about “how we should look”.

People now live in a world where their bodies define who they are, not their personalities. Furthermore, that’s another reason why young adults, women, and girls are trying to fit into the “ideal body shape”. Young girls are exposed to various beauty standards by Social media platforms. However, a new study suggests that such social networking behaviour is leading to the rise of “body dysmorphic disorders BDD” and “eating disorders” in both men and women.

On the other hand, people who do not fall into this ideal category of body shape have to deal with body-shaming comments and laugh emojis on their Facebook accounts. They might feel unhappy about their weight, shape, or physical appearance. Moreover, these people may be anxious about being too fat, too large or small, not curvy enough, or lacking in muscle mass. What’s more, not being satisfied with your body can result in a variety of psychological and physical problems.

Read More: What Is Skinny Shaming and How Can It Be Dealt With?

Chapter 6:

What Is Fat Shaming?

Out of all the body-shaming incidents, Fat Shaming is the most common. Fat shaming is picking on overweight people about their weight or eating habits to make them feel ashamed of themselves.

Some can argue that their motive was pure, that they wanted to encourage people to eat less, exercise more, and lose weight. But, in most cases, fat-shaming people have slim bodies and never had to struggle with a weight problem. So, chances are, they have zero knowledge of what these people are dealing with mentally and physically.

In fact, there are entire internet communities making fun of people for being obese. Stigma and discrimination towards overweight persons, on the other hand, can cause serious psychological injury to them.

Impacts of Fat-shaming

Fat-shaming is not a mild threat. It is a serious one at that. It can cause a lot of damage to the people who are prone to it. Increased weight gain is one of those harmful effects of fat-shaming.

Some studies have noted the following impacts.

  • Eating disorders
  • Reduced self-esteem.
  • Depression.
  • Various chronic diseases.

People who are judged based on their weight are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. Fat shaming has also been related to an increased risk of eating disorders such as binge eating. Further, it has been connected to a loss of self-esteem. Weight discrimination increases your risk of chronic diseases by producing stress, weight gain, elevated cortisol levels, and mental issues.

To sum up, research on fat-shaming clearly notes that fat-shaming harms people both psychologically and physically. Therefore, it’s proof enough that people must stop body shaming.

Chapter 7:

Teen Body-Shaming

More than any other age group, Teens are prone to believe what others have to say about them. They are the ones who care the most about how their body looks. Today’s teenagers have a pretty clear idea of what the “ideal physique” is meant to look like. It’s having a flat stomach, no acne, a large chest, large glutes, and a curvy body type for girls. A toned and strong body, excellent teeth, no acne, and a tall appearance are desirable qualities for men.

Any young adult who is not fallen into the above profile is not considered “desirable”.

The Impact of Teen Body-Shaming
Body shaming can cause low self-esteem in teenagers, which can lead to a variety of mental health problems. Low self-esteem can relate to:
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Other eating disorders

as well as a bunch of new additional issues that can jeopardize your child’s emotional and physical well-being requiring medical or therapeutic intervention.

Chapter 8:

How to Stop Body-Shaming in Teenagers

If you’re worried about your child or a teen in your life being body-shamed, try these five measures to help them avoid terrible outcomes.

Set a Good Example

If you believe your child is being body-shamed, consider how you feel about your own body. Keep words like “diet” and “thin” out of your vocabulary. Instead of missing meals and being self-critical, focus on health and healthy nutrition, especially in front of your teen. Further, stop body shaming yourself so that they can follow suit.

Teach Them on the Changes of Human Body

As long as kids have healthy meals and are fit and healthy, there is no issue with how they appear outside. With the rise of social media, we are sure that teenagers are taught what beauty is by photoshopped pictures and various filters. As a caretaker, your duty is to remind them that looks are fading but being healthy has lasting benefits.

Tell the Truth

As a parent or a caretaker, don’t be afraid to tell your child what you admire about him or her. To help people overcome poor self-esteem, focus on their character and personality rather than their appearance. This could go a long way in trying to stop body shaming.

Figure Out the Consequences of Body-Shaming

Achieve a sense of body-shaming and the influence it may have over your teen as the first step in combating it. One out of every ten adult women is satisfied with her looks. It’s past time to stand up for our children’s sake and confront our culture’s unrealistic values.

Teach Them Not to Follow Suit on Body Shaming

If your kids are getting body-shamed, it hurts you as a parent. But, what if your kids are doing the same for others? Maybe their classmates are getting body shamed by them. Therefore, the best thing to do is to teach them how badly it can affect a person. Teach them the mental and physical consequences of body shaming, eventually making the younger generation stop body shaming.

Chapter 9:

Can Teens Overcome It?

Body shaming is a form of bullying. However, the good news is that teenagers can easily overcome body-shaming. Treatment for depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem might help them regain their mental and physical health. There are therapy protocols and programs available to assist them in reclaiming their lives. They can learn to embrace themselves for who they are rather than comparing themselves to unrealistic goals.

If you see someone body shaming in person or online, speak up. Report it as “inappropriate content” if it’s on a social networking platform. Raising awareness of what body shaming is and how detrimental it can be can help make a difference in your child’s or other people’s lives. That way, we can put a stop to body shaming once and for all.

It’s high time your teen knows that they can overcome body shaming. There is always hope.

Chapter 10:

How to Overcome It

Literacy of Social Media
Not all people who have a Facebook account have expertise in Social Media, nor does the new generation have a complete grasp of the social media concepts. Therefore, people must think ahead to get good knowledge and understanding of social media concepts. Another key point is that having sound knowledge of how people communicate their ideas on the platform might come in handy. You can report the accounts that relate to hate speech, discrimination, and bullying on Facebook.

Therefore, regarding body shaming and body image on social media platforms, increasing social media literacy through school programs or social marketing activities is likely to have a preventive role.

Mental Counseling or Therapy
Many teens and older adults keep their feelings about insecurity, dissatisfaction with their bodies bottled up in their minds. Several therapy or counselling sessions could aid in your mental absorption of compassion, empathy, and self-acceptance. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is the most groundbreaking treatment for the majority of psychiatric illnesses. Even though it focuses on early developmental history and relationships, cognitive behavioural therapy talks about the problems that are happening at the moment.
Love yourself
Whenever you pass by a mirror, look at yourself. Think of the persons who you love most. Give thought to persons who love you. Be kind to yourself. Let go of toxic feelings about yourself and shame or embarrassment towards your body. This will help you gain more self-confidence, a deeper understanding of your image, and a greater sense of self-love, self-respect, and self-appreciation. Understand that you need to love yourself before you try to stop body shaming within society.
A healthy and well-balanced diet can do wonders. It will shape up your body and build fitness. Fitness necessarily doesn’t mean that you have to be on a diet. As long as you have a nutritious meal you’d be healthy. A fit body will have a massive effect on a person’s mind. If you are hungry or not very comfortable with the meal you are about to have, you lose focus.  Therefore, it can easily affect your daily life activities. To build fitness you can also try some regular fitness exercises.
Meditation gives you the power to erase shame, helps you pay attention to yourself, and takes away all your guilt for the body. Take an approach for comfortable meditation posture, eyes closed for comfort and serenity. Begin by bringing attention to the body sitting, breathing, inhaling, and exhaling and unlocking the feeling of positive, healthy body image.

Chapter 11:

A Word of Farewell

When we dress, we do not dress for ourselves; we dress for others. When you go to a wedding, many people you might bump into will probably tell you how thin or fat you have become since they last saw you. It is down to the time that people say things like, ” You have put on some weight; how about slowing down on those morning pancakes and focusing on a proper diet plan?”. It is hurtful, especially for teenagers, middle-aged people, and pretty much everybody. The friendly tone and caring appearance may sound nice, but even you know that they are body shaming. It has become too normal to talk about these hurtful things, and now we don’t even register when it happens.

With the dawn of social media, we are no longer in shallow water. Anyone can start trolling and cyberbullying. To stop body-shaming on social media, we must be aware of the dangers it carries and be familiar with how to report these bullies online.

We know it’s not easy to let go of your negative thoughts about your body on your own. We are always there to help you through the process. Remember, you don’t need to deal with body shaming all on your own. Be mentally prepared to ignore any hurtful things coming out of people; have a healthy diet and continue loving your amazing self. FAQs 1). How do you stop body shaming? 2). What to say to someone who is body shaming? 3). How do you help someone who thinks they are fat?

"Learnt a lot from this course" Sally

51 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount