Hemangi Gurjar, [2nd year BA LLB student at NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law]
“It is a harmless joke, don’t take it so seriously!” is often how people dismiss the insults and disrespect when it comes to body-shaming. What are harmless “jokes” for one person can be negatively impactful statements, for life, for other people. It is a sad state of affairs that even in the twenty-first century people often do not even notice when their statements are body shaming another individual and that needs to change!
Recently, a doctor who has also amassed a significant number of followers on Instagram, took to the social media app to call out a well-known Indian fashion designer whose store, body-shamed her when she visited the them for a bridal lehenga, which by the way had been her dream for a significantly long time. After being humiliated at the store for not being in good shape, the doctor was enraged and said how she went to another designer, showing appreciation for their work. She went on to express how nothing but her happiness should have mattered and no one should make remarks on the fat percentage a person solely because they are getting married soon.
A lot of factors are responsible for the desensitization of body-shaming which has been around for so long and refuses to say farewell. The fact that the first thing you say to a person after not seeing them for a long time is “You have gained weight/you have lost weight” should be sign enough that you are part of the problem. To completely associate a person with his or her physical features is a completely disrespectful attitude which needs to be addressed. No one should feel the need to tell you to not eat that much or eat enough because you do not fit into their criteria of a perfect body. There is no perfect body but only healthy bodies which is the only lesson we should always keep in mind and spread around.
This is not all, not just the others but people often end up body shaming themselves because of the beauty standards they have been seeing in the world for so long and that is also equally problematic. It is not just the others who cab make us feel bad about our body and body-shaming manifests in countless ways:
A person criticizing their own appearance, through a judgment or comparison to another person.
Criticizing another’s appearance in front of them
Criticizing another’s appearance without their knowledge.
Comparing the body of one person with another and saying which is better
These are just a few ways that make you part of the problem and a person should identify the negative thoughts they are putting out in the world and address them to make sure that no human being is ever deeply or at all affected by the statements made by oneself on someone’s body. No matter how this manifests, it often leads to comparison and shame, and perpetuates the idea that people should be judged mainly for their physical features.
Unfortunately, men and women of all shapes and sizes are subjected to body-shaming. Body-shaming has included accusations of being "too big" or "too thin," frequently focusing on insignificant faults. Many periodicals, social media platforms, and ads encourage body shaming in ways that have begun to mainstream these harmful practises. Many TV programmes and movies have followed this pattern, with the "fat" character frequently being the target of ridicule and comedic relief. It's critical to recognise the possible effects of celebrity fat-shaming on social media, which is becoming increasingly popular.
How can one overcome body-shaming?
Body shaming, like any other form of bullying, will persist until a person stands up for themselves in a good and healthy way. It's critical to practise self-love and avoid allowing negative comments to upset you. Additionally, if anyone sees body-shaming on social media, they must report it and mark it as improper, start a petition against body shaming, make a body positive article or blog, take a screenshot of body-snarkers, and connect with other strong and positive women.
It can be understood if you have indulged in body shaming in the past but want to correct your mistakes and become aware of your faults. What is not alright is noticing your mistakes but still choosing to continue with them. A person must always aim to be the part of the solution and not the problem because the call is always in our hands as to which side we stand on.
Your stand makes a huge difference and you must recognize it.