Health & Wellbeing

The facts about body shaming

Putting someone down because of the way they look can have shocking consequences.

In 2017, inaugural American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson was trolled on Twitter by a male user, who described the singer as “fat”.

Clarkson tweeted back: “….and stil f—ing awesome.”

Clarkson’s come-back spoke of pride and ownership of her body (regardless of what she looked like) in the face of such vile body shaming.

Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson (Credit: Getty Images)

But for others, body shaming can have terrible consequences.

Body shaming is the practice of making critical comments about a person’s body size, shape or weight.

The object of the criticism is most often to ridicule and it can lead to eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, anxiety, depression and low-self esteem.

Bag over head
(Credit: Getty Images)

If someone body-shames someone in front of others – “You might want to lose some weight if you want to find a date” – the goal is one of humiliation.

But a person can also body-shame someone behind their back: “Did you see what she was wearing? That was not a flattering dress.”

But in both cases, the body shaming leads to a culture of comparison and shame where people are judged for their physical features alone against other “ideal” body types.

(Credit: Getty Images)

You can even body-shame yourself through comparison – “I’m so fat compared to her.” This also perpetuates the idea that all people should be comparing themselves to others or an “ideal” body type often marketed by magazines and advertising.

A lot of body shaming takes place through social media and as we have seen, celebrities are not immune. Singer Adele is often a target of trolls (both famous and not), but rises above the barbs.

In 2012, after Karl Lagerfeld allegedly called her “a little too fat”, Adele told People magazine, “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of woman and I’m very proud of that.”

Adele (Credit: Getty Images)

Lady Gaga also suffered body shaming comments after she performed at the 2017 Superbowl half-time show, while wearing a David Bowie-inspired costume that exposed her mid-riff. While her millions of fans responded with fury, the singer simply said she loved her body.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga (Credit: Getty Images)

And in 2018, during the Emmy Awards red carpet, some Twitter users thought it was appropriate to question if model Chrissy Teigen was pregnant.

“I just had a baby, but thankyou for being soooo respectful,” replied Teigen.

Chrissy Teigen
Chrissy Teigen with son Miles. (Credit: Getty Images)

So how do we combat body shaming?

According to US eating disorder healing centre Walden Behavioral Care, most people are guilty of body shaming at some point in their life. And it often comes while dealing with conflicts, particularly with peers.

If we’re hurt or annoyed by someone, our default position is often to criticise the way they look, especially if it will be hurtful to the person. But the boffins at Walden suggests that if you identify why you’re upset (i.e. express your feelings), you will likely not resort to making fun of someone’s appearance.

Palm Tree
(Credit: Getty Images)

Walden also suggests to identify who in your life is body-positive, and use their approach to help you view yourself – and others – more positively.

And be like Kelly Clarkson – call out those who body-shame, and be proud of what you look like.

For help with eating disorders, visit The Butterfly Foundation.

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