Those who engage in body shaming often do so to cope with their poor self-esteem.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 27, 2021. It has since been updated.
Having a circle of strong, independent, fiercely loving, and respectful women around inspires me every single day. Those of us who know that global sisterhood is necessary to make a true change in gender dynamics also know how nourishing female friendships are for our personal growth. We feel good encouraging each other. When we watch a strong woman own her space, it delights us. When a woman decides to stand up for herself, we find ourselves cheering for her. When we notice a friend beating herself down, we jump to defend her beauty and strength from the harsh words of her own inner critic. We rejoice in beauty for what it truly is and cannot be bothered by flaky labels of size, shape, color, and even personal style.
However, the world isn't a happy bubble of all things honest and kind. One of the worst consequences of patriarchy is the internalized misogyny that some women seem to hold onto with pride. The fact that they bought into the lies of the media and beauty industry is one thing. But the fact that they turn their lack of self-acceptance and narrow ideas of beauty as a weapon to bring others down is such a shame. It paints the exact same picture of a disgruntled old grinch, so unhappy with himself that he cannot bear to watch anyone happy or feeling good about themselves without wanting to bring anyone else down. Not a pretty sight.
But so are most words that body shamers use to judge, label, hurt, and bring down others. Dr Heather Widdows explains in Psychology Today why it is important for us as a society to call out body-shaming comments for what they really are. Here are a few classic comebacks to put body shamers back in place. Or, if you choose to be patient and say it with love, we've got that covered as well. When you stand up for yourself, you stand up for others, too.
Your body fat is nobody's business. History reveals that different shapes were considered beautiful in different eras. Two women could be eating the exact same food and exercising the same amount and still be different in size and shape. That's what is unique about us. A quick glance at a gallery of historical pictures would reveal how human figurines in every possible size and shape were considered beautiful across different eras. This also reveals how myopic and modern this idea of "slim is pretty" is. Here are a few typical statements people have heard from body shamers in varied forms and our list of responses. You could tone it up or down, but this could help you when your mind furries to find an apt response.
It's critical to address negative messages that come from those who assume the right to comment on others' food choices at a party, their diet, or lifestyle choices, explains We + Good. Those who see food as an enemy feel threatened to watch others enjoy a healthy relationship with it. This list is also helpful to tackle those who have to compete at the gym or during physical training. It's great to be able to hike up a hill without much exertion or finish a workout routine without a break. But to look down upon people who may not have the same stamina or to feel a need to say something when they take a water break mid-routine is in poor taste.
Some folks are constantly competing with others in the room, not realizing they are the only ones running the race. The constant "comparers" never go beyond themselves to see that others might be fighting bigger battles making a real difference or could be dealing with health issues that stop them from being at their optimal capability at the moment. Most people know that they are engaging in mean behavior, but they may not realize that this immediate need to judge, label, and comment is coming from a deep place of insecurity or non-acceptance of oneself. This lack of self-awareness coupled with social privileges could allow many folks to go around being mean and shooting down others with an intend to shame them.
If they truly want to change, they can. The body shamer simply has to key in their comment and ask Google what to make of it to know how wrong they are. It is not your responsibility to educate others, explains The Mix. You have the right to protect yourself from insensitive and rude folks.
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