Welcome to Bodyshaming 101. By the end of this class, students should:
- Know what bodyshaming is
- Know not to bodyshame
- Learn to mind their business
I believe one of the characteristics of the average Nigerian is making unsolicited comments. Over the years, we have come to realize that sometimes, these comments can be insulting and painful to the recipients. I can almost confidently say (well, relatively) that 70% of those reading this article have at one time or the other made comments about another person’s body and perhaps, those comments might have done more harm than good. Bodyshaming, according to Wikipedia is “an act of deriding or mocking one’s physical appearance”. There are different types of bodyshaming but we’ll talk about four major, or most-common ones.
Unfortunately, if a random survey is conducted among plus-sized individuals, perhaps up to 80% of them would have had to listen to someone making insensitive comments about their body. While I understand that obesity puts you at risk of several health conditions, there is still a difference between telling someone to lose weight because you are worried for their health, and telling someone to lose weight because you think they will look better or more beautiful if they lost weight, like being fat is synonymous to being ugly. I think the major factor in fat-shaming is the idea that being fat somehow makes you less beautiful or less pleasing to look at. Sometimes, we try to do it under the guise of greetings and compliments. “You’ve gained so much weight. What are you eating?” “You don chop up” and so on. Research has also shown that not everyone got fat by over-eating. Statistics show that 100% of fat people are aware that they are fat. So really, there is no need to mention it everytime you see them like they do not know already. It can be offensive. If you are worried about their health, the conversation would probably go less like “You are too fat. You will likely have hypertensive heart disease later in life. You had better lose weight”. It will be more along the lines of, “You’re beautiful already. Let’s keep fit to be healthy”
A lot of people erroneously believe that slim people are the “ideal type” and so they don’t get shamed. Well, guess what? They do. From “your chest is flat” to “you look like a stick”, they have heard it all. As with fat-shaming, the message being passed here is you need to be curvy or muscular to be beautiful. Of course, that is not true. I could list a thousand beautiful people I know who are slim (which is basically everyone I know who is slim) but I think the easiest thing is to just say that slim people are beautiful, as are fat people, and as are people in general. And yes, I know being underweight also has health risks but well, deep down we all know there is concern and there is shaming. They are two different things. Lest I forget, I’ll add a proven fact: “slim people don’t break”.
So it appears that someone somewhere (who has never created any human being by the way) came up with the idea that guys must be tall and girls must be short. In the planet I live in, guys can be short and girls can be tall, and beautifully so. And of course, tall guys and short girls can be shamed for their height too. You’re free to have your taste in a partner but you don’t get to say someone is nobody’s type because of their height. This time, I won’t even bother to bring up health. You should understand that aspect by now. Height shaming is a thing. Leave people and their heights alone. And oh, short people are not wicked. That has not been scientifically proven.
It’s the 21st century; you should know already that women can have hairly legs, a moustache, beards, every kind of hair. And you should also know that guys may not have facial hair even if they are 37. Yes, they are normal people. So since you know, why do you feel the need to make people feel like their hairiness or lack thereof is something they should be ashamed of? For all I know, you didn’t put your own hair there. As with the aforementioned, people’s hair patterns are their business.
There are other things. Some of us even shame people for having acne. This is the same acne that more than 90% of the world’s population would have at some point or the other in their lifetime.
In case you’re wondering, the solution to bodyshaming is firstly, minding your business. The second is to ask yourself a few questions before making rude remarks about someone’s body: Do I know this person? Is it necessary that I say this now? Is this the best way to put it? Is this the best place to say it? Am I being concerned or I’m being rude?
This article doesn’t say maintaining a healthy weight is bad or that wearing heels means you’re not proud of your height. It’s just saying that stretch marks are beautiful, freckles are too. People of different sizes are beautiful and you cannot take that way from them.The summary is that making hurtful remarks about someone’s body can hurt them more than you know and for longer than you think. Your comment might be the reason they lose their self-esteem.
We have now come to the end of the class. Thank you for your attention.