Have you ever considered to actually base your appearance on what you normally see in different media platforms? Well, you can’t be blamed.
Magazines and television ads constantly offer tips about how to lose weight “in days,” appear slimmer “instantly,” and hide our bulge without really knowing anything about our body type, much less our appearance. This is one example of body-shaming, and it is constantly becoming an uncontrollable norm.
Body shaming has become all too prevalent recently because humans are obsessed with appearances. The society created standards that we have to live up to, and then ridicule those same standards when we realize that not all can attain it. This culture pushes people to criticize the way others look, and classifies us into categories based on social norms.
Studies have shown the negative impacts of body shaming perpetrated by the media and its imposition of a standardized body image. The society is continuously exposed to photo shopped images of unrealistic body ideals and this has been linked to low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S., resulting in at least one death every 62 minutes. In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, negative body image was determined to be a predictor of suicidal thoughts among college students, especially among young women.
Sadly, body-shaming made people very conscious about trying to find ways to “correct” or “adjust” to how they want to look to other people. Some will even go under the knife—turning to expensive plastic surgeries—for the sake of feeling good about themselves; not that it is a disgrace, but people who resort to medical operations are often driven by a clouded judgment. Others also tend to turn to addictive tendencies like drugs and alcohol in order to numb the pain of not having a slim figure.
Asking people with different body types to “make healthy choices” only perpetuates the problematic idea that it is their responsibility to become slimmer and ‘socially acceptable’ when it is already hard enough to be comfortable in their own skin. Upholding the neoliberal value of individual choice should not be seen as the solution to attain social progress because it will never address the ways that body shaming functions in the actual world; where people who don’t fit are deemed to likely live miserable lives because of their size.
While it is true that healthy lifestyle is often associated with a person’s eating habits, among others, body shaming is never the right way to get your point across. It is time to start tackling body shaming structurally. It’s not about individual behavioral change, but large-scale, cultural, and social institutional change.
Achieving the desired body goals does not happen overnight, and not everyone is easily ready to jumpstart the journey toward fitness. It takes much mind-conditioning to finally have the initiative.
After all, a healthy body will only be truly healthy with a healthy mind.
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