Can Everyone Stop Being Jerks About Women's Bodies Already?
Body-shaming is a nasty business
Every time my parents call me they ask me if I got fat.
No, I'm not kidding. Although I wish I was.
If you think women in Western countries have it bad when it comes to body standards, you should be glad you weren't born in Eastern Europe. Because Slavic people take fat-shaming to another level. What are you even doing with your life if you aren't as skinny as your mother or grandmother were during the Soviet times after giving birth to six kids?
No more potatoes and cabbage for you. You better starve yourself for the next year or so. Because being fat is even worse than being a commie, duh.
But the obsession with policing women's bodies and skinniness isn't exclusive to our culture. It exists practically everywhere in the world. And particularly on the Internet.
Ever since photoshopped to perfection bikini pictures became the norm in the jungle of social media, it's easy to forget what we see isn't necessarily real. And everyone is so used to seeing flawless pictures of conventionally attractive bodies that anything outside of that realm isn't valued or worthy.
As a result, body shaming is only getting worse. How lovely.
Our bodies are ever-changing, and that's ok
I spent a good chunk of my twenties disliking my body and wishing I could look like I did when I was 16 or 17. I wanted my legs to be skinny, my stomach flat, and my thighs cellulite-free again.
I didn't realize that the reason I don't look 17 is… because I'm not.
My body has changed.
I'm not a teenager anymore.
And I stopped starving myself like I used to in order to comply with the body standards for clothes hangers, ahem, models, at the time. Not long after I quit the industry in my early 20s, I started gaining weight. And look differently.
That's because our body is ever-changing.
It changes when we're hit with the Molotov cocktail of hormones and undergo puberty. It changes when we're twenty, and we gradually grow into our adult shape and size. It changes when we create a life inside of us. And it changes when the hormonal shifts that come with menopause start taking hold.
We all change with age. It's part of life. To pretend otherwise would be foolish.
But social media and the fashion & beauty industry imposed a cruel burden on women by trying to convince us that a thin, 'conventionally pretty' body is what all women should strive toward, regardless of our age and life situation.
You just had a baby? Here are twenty creams to tighten all that loose skin left behind, fifteen different ways to burn your post-baby belly fat, and five best postnatal exercise books that will help you get back in shape.
You're not 17 anymore? That's a bummer, but if you get liposuction, tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and a dozen other plastic surgeries, combined with a strict keto diet and 6-days a week workout routine, you might be able to fool some people about your age.
And if you don't check countless items off that ideal female body list, don't be surprised if people shame you for it, ok?
'Maybe put down that fork'
If I had a dollar for every time somebody made a spiteful comment about my body, I'd be rich enough to afford all the surgeries needed to look like a Kim Kardashian clone.
And maybe I could finally fulfill my life-long dream of selling waist trainers on Instagram.
But nobody should have to live in a world where they're constantly made to feel bad about their bodies by other people. And this is sadly becoming all too common lately. Body-shaming is no longer limited to the trashy world of tabloid magazines with their sensationalist headlines and obsession with blown-up imagery of belly fat and cellulite.
Social media users are taking it to a whole new level. And it seems like no one feels more entitled to comment on women's bodies than anonymous people online - what a surprise.
Several female celebrities already opened up about the brutal reality of body-shaming on the Internet, like Lizzo or Camilla Cabello. But if you don't believe me - or them - go to on any female celebrity, athlete, or influencer's social media page and take a look at their comment sections.
Even if they don't have any pictures wearing revealing clothes or bikinis, there are always many comments about their body and weight. 'She's too curvy, she should put down that fork,' or 'she's too skeleton-like, she should eat more.'
Any sign of female body imperfection, particularly being overweight, brings down the wrath of the online world. And the language around body-shaming is becoming so ingrained into our everyday lives we don't even register when it's happening.
But body-shaming online is not only humiliating; it often has painful, long-term consequences in the real world. Because women and young girls don't just simply decide to hate their bodies and develop an eating disorder one day - we teach them to.
We need to normalize 'normal' bodies
Body-shaming will only stop for good if we tackle it structurally and have a greater diversity of body sizes, shapes, skin tones, heights, and more in media images - not only the 'conventionally attractive' ones. And yes, that also applies to body positivity movement, which too often only features plus-size models with big boobs and asses but flat stomachs. That's not exactly diversity either.
It's also about time we stop perpetuating the harmful idea that our unique physical appearances should be compared to air-brushed notions of 'perfect.'
Because this 'perfection' is seldom real.
But our 'normal' bodies are.
Bodies with body rolls, cellulite, hyperpigmentation, flabby arms, scarred skin, wrinkles, acne, razor bumps, double chins, short torsos, big calves, body hair, wide feet, loose skin, and stretch marks.
All of those things are perfectly normal.
They are part of our living, breathing, human body.
Even if we all ate the same and exercised the same, we would still look different and have some of these 'flaws.' So what's the point in obsessing over them?
If you have nothing nice to say, shut up
I'm finally in a good place with my body - all parts of it. And so what if my stomach has folds and it isn't rock-hard? How I look doesn't affect anyone but me, so why should you or anybody else care?
The bottom line is, another person's appearance and weight is none of your business unless you're their doctor. And women feeling confident in their bodies is NOT an invitation for you to body shame them.
If you're ever tempted to go down that road, just shut up. Keep whatever hateful thing you want to say to yourself. Because what exactly do you gain from making someone else feel like shit? Nothing of substance. Maybe a fleeting moment of power, but that's gone as soon as it comes.
There's enough unhappiness in the world without you adding to it.
So, respectfully, stop being a hateful jerk.
This story was originally published on Medium.
About the Creator
Sometimes serious, sometimes funny, always stirring the pot. Social sciences nerd based in London. Check out my other social media: www.linktr.ee/katiejgln
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