Why Body Shaming Needs to be a Thing of the Past
By Meggan Turner
Body confidence issues are becoming an even bigger issue recently than ever before. No matter who you are or what size you are, these days it's so common to have low self esteem when it comes to body confidence. That left me wondering, is there something we can do to change that?
If you look at the media of today, most women have a certain way to look. Now I know what you're thinking, 'yes they're all meant to be thin'. However that isn't always the case. You can look at Victoria's Secret models for example, the majority of them are thin, but then if you listen to the song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, that promotes being a bigger woman instead. The point is that it seems in the media today, neither of the body types can exist without shaming the opposing one. It seems that VS models are shaming bigger sized women, as they rarely feature people of those sizes, making them feel less sexy and pretty and unhappy with their bodies.
However it isn't just those body types that get shamed, as Meghan Trainor also shames smaller body types in her song, claiming them to be 'skinny bitches', which can be derogatory as to how they look. Neither body type can exist without creating some sort of discontent about the other. And that in itself really doesn't help people to love their bodies, when how they look is constantly judged and depending on the media outlet you look at, criticised both negatively and positively.
I have a bigger body type compared to some people, and it can be difficult to see smaller body type people and not compare, or wish to look like them. Yet there are many people I know who are the smaller type, who in fact would love to be my size, it's just hard to get there. Some people who are thinner are just naturally like that, their metabolisms are a lot faster so they burn off food a lot quicker meaning that naturally they just don't put on weight. This isn't their fault and it's unfair for them to get body shamed because of it. People don't criticise others for going on diets and trying to lose weight, so why should people who are trying to put on weight to get to a healthy size be criticised?
Body shaming about anyone's body type is definitely not okay, and it can have serious effects on people. Something that goes unnoticed is that body shaming also happens to men. The media mainly seem to focus on how women are unhappy with how they look and how they struggle with confidence issues, yet it can be exactly the same in men too. I know many men who are unhappy with how they look, and just like women, it makes them self conscious. The media portray men to be “muscled and fit” and have the perfectly toned body, and that's mainly what they show to the world. This can make men feel insecure too if they don't look like that, and when this happens to women, there is an uproar about it, so why not with men too?
Men's feelings matter just as much as women, and them feeling comfortable in their own skin is just as important as women feeling comfortable. To all the men out there, what you see in the media today is not how all men look, and if you don't fit that profile then that doesn't make you any less of a person. Some people are naturally more muscled than others, some aren't, that's just how life works and it's not fair to start comparing yourself because of it. No doubt there's someone out there who loves how you look, and hopefully one day you will too.
The same goes out to the men who are muscled, if you're like that or want to be like that then good for you! Embrace it, and don't let anyone drag you down because of it, if you like how you look then go for it. No one else should matter because making yourself happy is the most important thing in the world.
The only time you should feel okay mentioning how someone looks, is if you are worried for their health. If you know them, and you know that their weight or how they look is making them unhealthy in any way, that is when you should speak out. Even then, there are nicer ways to go about it. Mention to them that you're worried about them, or maybe they could do with changing something, and offer them help if they need it. There are so many nicer ways to go about it then just outright calling someone out about it, and the nicer you are about it the more likely you are to get through to the person and benefit them.
Unless you want to change something about yourself, for example you might want to go the gym to get a bit fitter, or have a healthier diet so you can feel better about yourself, then don't let others get you down about it. No matter who that person is, they don't own your body and if they're getting you down in a bad way (rather than being helpful) then you have to try not to let them. The only approval you need on how you look is your own, and once you get there then you'll probably realise that everyone around you has already been giving you their's for many years. You're stronger than they are inside and out.
There will be times where you'll stumble and something or someone will get to you and yes, it may drop your confidence about how you look. But that won't last forever, because you're still the amazing person you were before and if you can't build your confidence back up alone then don't be ashamed to ask for help, whether it be professional such as going to a gym, or just asking a friend for a boost every now and again. It's natural to stumble every now and again, but it only means you have the chance to build yourself back up stronger than ever before.
I once heard someone say that the only thing you should ask yourself is two questions; 1. Are you happy? and 2. Are you healthy? She said that if the answer to both those questions is yes, then you go on as you are and don't let anyone stop you from doing that, no matter what they say. If your answer to both or one of those is no, then there are things to do about it, but make sure the reason you're doing them is for you and no one else.
At the end of the day your body is yours to do with what you like, and if you're happy with how you look then make sure to embrace that and if anyone says different then ignore them, because you should be your own priority. What you think of yourself is the most important thing in the world, and as long as you're healthy then it doesn't matter. People come in all shapes and sizes and that isn't a bad thing. No one is perfect no matter what they do, so live your life how you want and remember to be happy in whatever you do, and don't let anyone take that away from you.
What I'm trying to say, is that there is no right or wrong way to look. Unless you medically need to change something about yourself because your health is at risk, if you're happy then try to love yourself, whether you're male or female. No one's body is perfect and it's time to start embracing what you look like, no matter what shape or size you are, because I can guarantee there are so many people around who already love how you look and are just waiting for that time for you to love yourself too. You'll get there, I know it. It just takes some time.
Stay strong and you can get through anything.
You're amazing and you're stronger than the hurtful things people may say, even if you don't realise it yet.