Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 07 March |
Saint of the Day: Sts Perpetua and Felicity
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

How to defend yourself against body shaming

WOMAN LOOKING AT REFLECTION

Shutterstock

Javier Fiz Pérez - Matthew Green - published on 09/14/18

It starts with accepting that everyone's body is different.

Body shaming is nothing new, but it’s more common today than ever.

This tendency to make fun of other people’s bodies in public forums used to be focused more on celebrities — actors, athletes, etc. — when they began to gain weight, or were photographed by paparazzi in unflattering positions. Their photos were plastered all over tabloids, highlighting what critics considered their defects, with phrases like, “look how fat she’s getting,” “look at that cellulitis,” “he looks like a whale,” and even worse comments.

With the ubiquity of access to the internet and social networks, it’s extremely easy to criticize and make fun of the physical defects of others (most commonly, their weight and proportions), causing them psychological and emotional damage. Both men and women may be targeted as victims of bullying, teasing, and criticism if their weight, musculature, etc., doesn’t match the current standards of beauty or attractiveness. Making these comments “at a distance” through a keyboard tends to embolden people to be cruel without feeling the consequences.

One of the many possible results of the nasty hobby of body shaming is that it makes the targets of the criticism (and other people who realize we look just the same) ashamed of certain parts or aspects of our body that we don’t like, or that we even hate. The verbal bullying and teasing makes us feel insecure and unlovable, and unhappy with who we are.

Unrealistic ideals

The images used in publicity, as well as the pressure of fads and fashion, try to influence us and sell us the idea that our goal should be the pursuit of a perfect body, and that our value as a person depends on our physical appearance and not on who we are and how we act. On the contrary, our greatest value lies in our interior, and when we find our security in that, it allows us to be much less vulnerable to criticism of our body, and to our own possibly negative body image.

Having the goal of achieving a perfect body is an unrealizable ideal for most of us, and if we have unrealistic expectations, we are most likely going to be constantly frustrated and will end up with emotional problems. This is not to say that we cannot or should not take care of our bodies and try to live a healthy lifestyle. However, it does mean we should realize that every person’s body is different, and the way it develops is the result of myriad factors (genes, availability of nutrition, work and family duties and stresses, etc.). It is not up to others (except, perhaps, our physician) to judge our body, much less to publicly deride us. Worrying about living to other people’s aesthetic ideals is not the road to lasting happiness.

If, on the contrary, we accept that we all have our physical defects and our virtues — physical, psychological, and spiritual — we will be able to live at peace with ourselves. Accepting our body as it is, in the context of our daily efforts to be healthy and responsible, gives us a solid foundation for offering the best of ourselves to the people around us.


KOBIETA NA TRAWIE

Read more:
Do you have a “perfect” body? Take the quiz


WOMAN,SELF,IMAGE,MIRROR

Read more:
Struggling with your body image? St. Catherine is here to help

Tags:
Health and WellnessPersonal Growth
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
GUARDIAN ANGEL
Philip Kosloski
10 Mysterious things to know about guardian angels
2
tabernacle
Philip Kosloski
5 Important things to notice in a Catholic church
3
POPE AUDIENCE
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Do you know the 3 words that describe God’s style? Pope Fra...
4
Ziggurat of Ur
John Burger
Pope’s trip to Iraq is like a pilgrimage to a Holy Land
5
SAINT JOSEPH AND CHILD JESUS
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about St. Joseph
6
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope calls us to Abraham’s hope: Full text of address in Ur
7
VaticanNews.va
Pope in Iraq: Schedule and key events
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.