From fat shaming, skinny shaming to pretty shaming, here are 5 types of body shaming you didn't know you were committing.
If you haven't read about the time my ex boyfriend thought he could body shame me, you definitely should read it! Head on to read crazy reasons why people do body shaming. It is a must read and it will provide more insight into the different types of body shaming we will be talking about today.
I don't know when this body shaming thing became this cool thing just about everyone "indulges" in but in recent times, it has become this bullying tool to hate on people.
It doesn't matter if you are this cool Black, Asian, Caucasian ecetera, ecetera babe. These body shaming bullies will find something to shame you about.
Y'all remember that walk of shame Cersei did in GOT? That is what body shaming feels like.
Shame! Shame!! Shame!!!
Subtle. Loud. To your face. In your face. Behind your back. Snidely.
They do it in all manner of ways.
And it is not only sad, it can affect your mental health and wellbeing. If you don't have the willpower to "absorb" things like this, your self esteem will take a bashing. Y'all know what that means, right?
Loss of confidence, feelings of insecurity, low self esteem, body negativity?
Need I go on?
Dear, body shaming bullies, let our bodies breathe! It is ours!
What Is Body Shaming
Table Of Contents
- What Is Body Shaming
- In What Form Does Body Shaming Happen?
- The Objectification Theory And Body Shaming
- Effects Of Body Shaming/Fat Shaming
- Types of Body Shaming
- How To Overcome Body Shaming
Now, what the heck is body shaming? A dictionary definition of body shaming says it is "the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size'', or "expressing mockery or criticism about a person's body shape or size".
Body shaming has gained a lot of attention in the past few years and women are usually the targets of this type of bullying.
From social media, billboards' adverts' to the movie industry, we are constantly bombarded with the image of these "ideal" body types which are usually proportional to materialism. Skinny is equal to wealth.
We are constantly being told by strangers, family and friends alike about how we should look, how we should behave and what our bodies should be like.
Girl, I owe nobody nothing when it comes to my body. I am an African woman. I have got booty and I ain't letting it go. You either love me like that or look for another "body type" you prefer but don't you dare befriend a big boned woman and then put pressure on her to "lose weight" boy!
Unless of course if it is for health reasons!
In What Form Does Body Shaming Happen?
The sad thing about body shaming is that we are not only victims of other people's body shaming acts, we also bully ourselves because we have been bullied into believing the "beautiful lies" we are sold every day of our lives.
I am no authority but I can identify four different ways body shaming happens.
- Being body shamed by others. Others here refers to friends, family members and total strangers. A friend to me the other day, Jennifer, you are losing so much weight. You look haggard, girl! Purplease! Let me breathe.
- Criticizing your own body. Body shaming yourself by comparing your beautiful body with another woman's body and then telling yourself you fall short and the other woman's body is better than yours. Really?
- Body shaming others right in front of them. Oh babe, just look at you! You are so fat! What the heck!!! Shocked? People do that all the time and get away with it!
- Criticizing others behind their back. Yes, we women do it a lot. Jennifer has got a big booty. That was Genevieve to one of you girls. Hahahahahaha. Wake up girl, everyone wants a booty these days!
Perhaps, the saddest of these forms of body shaming, is the self body shaming. I mean, it is enough already that society buffets us from all sides about ideal body types. We shouldn't have to beat ourselves up too!
This article Why Body Image Isn't Everything is a great place for you to start learning everything there is to learn, on practicing body positivity.
The Objectification Theory And Body Shaming
Let me tell you all a little bit about what is known as the objectification theory.
The theory explains what the uproar about body shaming is and makes the concept of shaming more understandable.
Objectification theory suggests that girls and women are typically "cultured" to assume an observer's perspective as a primary view of their physical selves.
Way to go!
It is a thing! We subconsciously adopt these without knowing!
Let me explain. When someone pays us a really nice compliment about our body, in fact, about anything personal to us, we preen and it boosts our self confidence, right?
Similarly, when we get get a bad compliment, we become deflated, lose self confidence and suffer low self esteem, low self worth, depression, embarrassment, anger, shame to mention but a few .
From the foregoing, as suggested by the objectification theory, this sort of perspective on self can lead to incessant body monitoring, which, in turn, can increase women's opportunities for shame and anxiety, reduce opportunities for optimum motivational states, and diminish awareness of every other potential possessed by women.
The more their experiences, the more mental health risks women will be exposed to. From unipolar depression, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders to mention but a few. The Objectification theory also explains why changes in these mental health risks appear to occur in step with life‐course changes in the female body.
You know our bodies are subject to constant changes as women. Suffering those horrible mood swings during periods (tell me about it), child bearing, menopause, cellulite, stretch marks. You know the whole gig, queens.
Well, enough of the pity party. Let's not get side tracked.
But why is body shaming such a big deal? Shouldn't we just be confident in and about our bodies and not care about society dictates? Let's delve into the effects of body shaming and then you tell me why it is a big deal before we talk about the types of body shaming.
Effects Of Body Shaming/Fat Shaming
Let me shock you all.
Fat shaming people do not make them want to be "healthier". It actually drives them to the opposite direction! It makes them feel sorry for themselves, indulge in emotional eating and gain more weight!
I bet you didn't know that!
It has been proven scientifically that victims of fat shaming eat more and then gain more weight because they they feel terrible from all the bullying. Women are usually the focus of fat shaming, the study suggests. Health Line has an overview of the study you can read.
Fat shaming can, cause a number of things. Depression and risk of suicide. When someone is depressed, they are more susceptible to committing suicide.
This is because the person being shamed, suffers mentally and physically.
One other effect of fat shaming is social anxiety. When people are publicly body shamed (which is often the case), there is the tendency for the victims to avoid public places, gradually isolating themselves to avoid any form of social interaction.
Depression and eating disorders, sets in at this stage and of course a tendency for suicidal thoughts and when there is no early interventions, suicide becomes the only option they think about.
An interview with Josh Zimmerman, MD a general adult psychiatrist with a focus on treating patients with eating disorders at the Melrose Clinic reveals some very troubling trends and issues with the people he has worked with. You can read the interview on Health Partners to gain more insight.
Types of Body Shaming
From fat shaming, skinny shaming to pretty shaming, here are 10 types of body shaming you didn't know you were committing.
1. Fat Shaming
This would take the cake for all the types of body shaming! It is so common to hear people literally take someone else from a hundred to a zero by the way they talk about their weight.
Fat shaming is the norm these days. You get criticized by trolls about your weight. You are fat they say. Babe, OMG, what do you eat! Look at you!
No one wants to know if you have some inner struggles or health issues that might be causing weight gain. As a matter of fact, they don't care.
Even celebs aren't left out by the trolls.
This is the most debilitating type of body shaming and it is the one on which a lot of studies on body shaming is hinged.
It is wrong on all levels!
2. Skinny Shaming
There are are women who have what I call super metabolism. No matter what they eat, they never add on weight.
Also. there are women suffering from eating disorders (a range of psychological conditions that results in the development of unhealthy eating habits. They mental health disorders and typically starts with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape). The most common type of eating disorder is Anorexia Nervosa.
Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, they are most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, statistics has it that up to 13% of youth may experience at least one eating disorder by the age of 20.
Imagine persons like these being body shamed! Being body shamed for having a great metabolism and/or suffering from one eating disorder or other.
3. Pretty Shaming
Yes there is a thing as pretty shaming! I was a victim. As a matter of fact, I have been a victim of it all my life and became conscious of the fact I was being body shamed about being pretty in my undergraduate years.
Here are some of the things I have been told over the years....
- Oh, I thought you'd be an airhead (this happens when I meet some persons the first time and we are perhaps having a conversation about some subject matter that requires some level of knowledge to be able to converse about it)
- Someone saying "what does she know, she's just interested in fashion" right in front of me to someone else.
- And words like, ''she is just pretty, there is nothing there" , ''oh, you are not just a pretty face".
Back then in the University, when results are posted, everyone would be looking for the person that kept scoring the highest (hint: you usually don't know each other's matriculation numbers unless someone tells you theirs) until they discovered it was me and they kept being "surprised" that it was me.
These things happen. Not only to me but to lots of pretty women out there. Men would rather objectify you than acknowledge you for your great personality, intelligence, sense of humour etc. Even women who feel less pretty than you will rather pretty shame you than pay you a compliment (probably to make themselves feel better about their looks).
Isn't that sad?
I went for an interview with a multinational company two years ago. All the interviewers were men. A Briton and two Nigerians. I was hopeful because I desperately needed a change of job and I gave it my best. But it wasn't to be. You know why? The feedback I got was that I was too pretty and they didn't think I could do the job!
Holy of hollies! My work experience, educational and professional qualifications didn't convince them! They took one look at me and concluded that I was too pretty and I somehow missed the memo that says that pretty babes do not have "brains"!
Read the juicy details about How I lost Out For Looking Good In An Interview.
No one really looks past my pretty face and when they do, it is like this huge shock and you know what? It has now become my power. A tool I use to get over being shamed.
You should use it too!
4. Body Hair Shaming
I think in those years of my ignorance, I have body shamed one or two persons having body hairs.
I am absolutely sorry! I can't even imagine what I may have put the persons through.
Eastern Nigerian women are characterized by facial hair and the thing is they are always very beautiful. Very common with the fair skinned ones. The funny thing is when you look closely, the facial hairs actually enhances their beauty rather than detract from it but they have always been the subject of rabid body shaming jokes amongst Nigerians.
I think I should pay attention to that and promote an awareness about it on my Facebook.
Having facial or body hair shouldn't make someone be body shamed.
I had this funny encounter with a Spa sales rep on Instagram a few months ago. The long and short of it is that the sales rep made a rabid joke when I was asking about their sugar wax services when I said I haven't shaved the whole year.
More often than not, body shaming comes in forms of jokes, "hey, Jennifer you mean you haven't shaved for a year. You are a woman for crying out loud". I mean! It is all mockery, no matter how people tend to explain comments like these, away.
It doesn't justify anything. You are only hurting people.
Stop looking at a woman weirdly because they have facial/body hairs. I also think shaving stick companies should stop making us all feel "unsexy" and "uncool" because we have hairs on our bodies with adverts.
Stop objectifying us, already!
5. Food Shaming
There is a thing known as food shaming?
Oh yes, there is! While it isn't directly shaming our bodies, it is about our bodies.
Have you ever been been rudely told that the amount of food you are eating is way too much? There, you go. That is food shaming.
Imagine running on coffee all day and then you get really hungry and decided to treat yourself to a good meal. A restaurant, at home. Doesn't matter where and just when you are savouring the food, you hear a voice ''a woman shouldn't eat that much". I can imagine the deflation that comes after.
You start questioning yourself, talking down on yourself, berating yourself , hating you for giving in to having a good bountiful meal.
There is this general ideology that a woman isn't supposed to eat much. Can someone point me to the rule book that says that?
Yes, I know there is a thing as portion control but we shouldn't have to shame people because they want to eat what you do not think is a good portion.
Think about that!
How To Overcome Body Shaming
Having known the defnition of body shaming and the different types of body shaming we are subjected or may be committing, how does one overcome body shaming? How and what do I do when I am body shamed?
I know these are some of the questions probably running through your mind right now.
How do I ''live above'' body shaming and not let it get to me?
Let's see a number of ways to overcome body shaming.
- Be Your Authentic Self. One great way to overcome body shaming is by being your authentic self and staying true to yourself. In a world that constantly celebrates ''being fake, it becomes difficult to be one's self. But it can be done. The guide below shows you exactly how to be your authentic self.
- Use Affirmations. Positive affirmations are power mantras you say to yourself. They help you build self-confidence and self-esteem to the point negative talks from people do not have an effect on you. They will help you love yourself better. Use the affirmations below to get started.
- Learn How To Build Your Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem. They will help you build the ''thick skin'' you need to overcome body shaming. There are a lot of helpful resources here that will help you build self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Learn To Be More Assertive. Assertive Communication is a great tool every woman should possess. Do not let people constantly put you down, girl! Be assertive. When they come with those their body shaming bullying ''gags'', gag them back, babe. Slam them down. Do it nicely though.
- Learn Body Positivity! Practice body positivity. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are a queen and your body is great. I used to have this big insecurity about my ears lol. I have always thought they were big and in my secondary school years, I would wear my school beret and cover my ears. The funny thing is that people thought it was cool and some persons imitated me but they didn't know I was covering up my insecurities! These days, I don't even remember that and I love my ears just the way they are. Learn to love your body.
- Make Lifestyle Changes. This makes sense right? If you do not like the way you look, decide to make some lifestyle changes. Healthier eating, exercising, cut down calories but want it for YOU and not because your spouse or some random stranger body shamed you. You should want something enough that you want to do it for yourself. That is self-love, girl. I have lots of healthy lifestyle tips and hacks on Pinterest from great bloggers that you should definitely check out. They will help you make great lifestyle changes to a healthier you.
Conclusion: Types Of Body Shaming
At the end of the day, it is your body and no one should have the power to make you feel bad about it. Be bold, be secure in who you are, so much so that when people try to put you down because of your body type, they end up learning lessons as to why they are doing is absolutely wrong. I believe we should all desist from making these types of body shaming mistakes. We need to spread love. The world needs more of it. Join the conversation.
From fat shaming, skinny shaming to pretty shaming, here are 5 types of body shaming you didn't know you were committing