Body Shaming Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
Can we talk about body shaming for a moment?
"Body shaming," by definition, is the inappropriate negative statements and attitudes towards another person's body, weight, or size--often with the intention of making one feel shameful about their appearance or even their health. While body shaming is heavily prevalent on social media, on TV, and on the news, most people don't realize that body shaming happens to ALL people of ALL shapes and sizes. It's ugly. It's wrong. And it often stems from the shamer's own insecurity.
Even though I've only worked in retail for a few months, I have seen instances of body shaming from a completely new perspective. I have always seen instances of body shaming toward overweight people, especially women, but it wasn't until recently that I noticed that equally painful body shaming occurs toward skinny, petite, healthy, and/or athletic individuals. And it wasn't until recently that I really understood that certain comments or attitudes towards me were actually instances of body shaming and were highly inappropriate.
I have a pretty healthy relationship with my body. Sometimes I feel like I'm in two different bodies. I spent most of my teens and early college years 10-15 pounds heavier, so I remember how clothes fit and how I looked. I also see my current size, weight, and appearance and recognize the new praises and struggles of this body. Neither body is wrong. I celebrate my body, but do not think it's wrong to strive to be healthier or more toned or whatever it is you want to strive for in a healthy way. Having this dual perspective often helps me consider how clothes fit on a variety of body types, which is an asset in the retail world.
However, no matter what my understanding or background is, no matter where any of us have been in life or what our bodies have gone through or what our relationship and understanding with body types are, I am (and you are--we ALL are!) immediately assessed, judged, and categorized by my/our current body, weight, and appearance.
So often I am laughed or sneered at or given the comment, "Well, that's because you're skinny" as though what I have to suggest is invalid or even laughable. And more than that, it has the power to make me feel ashamed of my body, like I'm not allowed to be my shape or size. And weirdly enough, the women who have said this to me are almost always a similar size to myself and/or have very skewed perceptions of their own bodies. After these comments, they look in a mirror, try on clothes, and point out their flaws left and right, body shaming themselves into a belief that they do not have the body they actually have. And they refuse to see the beauty in themselves regardless of size or shape.
I recognize that self-acceptance, especially when it comes to body image, is not easy. It's not easy for me--even if I am "skinny"--and it's not easy for you.
It's not easy for the bodybuilder who is called "disgusting" and "fake." It's not easy for the woman who has lost an incredible 100 pounds but is laughed at because others don't know how far she has come in her health journey. It's not easy for the girl who is called a "skeleton" and someone "no one would want to hug." It's not easy for the curvy woman who is told to embrace her curves and to stop working out, even if her goal is just to be healthy. It's not easy for the athlete who feels awkward putting on heels and a dress because her friends don't think it fits her frame "right." It's not easy for the woman who feels obligated to cover up her tattoos just so she doesn't have to face the judgmental ridicule that comes her way.
When there are tumblr accounts dedicated to images and instances of body shaming that are utterly disgusting, degrading, and sad--there is a problem. A major problem.
I don't usually talk about issues like this on the blog, but I do when I believe wholeheartedly in something. And I believe in this. We need to stop body shaming towards ALL people. And that starts with ceasing body shaming towards ourselves. Defeat that voice in your head that points out your flaws and compares you to the stereotype of how you should look. Stop the word vomit that comes out when you see another person working out or eating or trying on clothes. Instead, let's embrace the idea that bodies are not meant for shaming. Bodies are the mediums in which we paint our true selves and we are beautiful.