Anorexia, Binge Eating, Bulimia: What You Forget When You Mock Someone’s Body

Posted by shreyashi Guha in Body Image
June 2, 2017

Body shaming is one of the alarming problems among today’s generation. The Oxford dictionary defines body shaming as, “The action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.” Nowadays, body shaming has become a very common and depressing problem among people, especially among teenagers, making it prominent on social media sites. It is important to mention that it is not a current issue but a very known and old problem which has now grabbed attention. People not only find humour in making fun of a woman’s shape or size but also of a man’s.

Did we ever stop for once and think about why we are asked to change ourselves or why we feel insecure about our body? As I go on exploring the problem, it is not only making people insecure about themselves but is also lowering their self-esteem. Younger women in the run of shaping their identity often put more emphasis on their body image, whereas on the flip side, young men often are body neutral or body positive (they are okay with how they look or have made peace with it) as they do not feel the need of taking body image into account during their period of ‘struggle’. This trend reverses as they start ageing. Many men become conscious and women start becoming less so.

According to a Yahoo survey, 94% of American teenage girls have been body shamed, while the number of teenage boys being at the receiving end of it is much lesser, at 64%. So, many women/ girls have lower self-esteem compared to boys/ men on how they look and the ill habits like body shaming have made it worse for women to face the world. It has made us become conscious about our shape and size in a negative manner. Also, according to the results of The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence report released in 2016, around 85% of the women interviewed had low body confidence, which made them sacrifice important public events. More than 10,000 women were interviewed for this research across 13 countries.

This report also says Japanese women are the least body confident. According to the study, the percentage of body confident women in India, Turkey, Russia is marked around 40%, whereas the percentage in countries like China, Mexico, Germany falls under 40%. “This new cross-cultural research highlights the reality that low body-esteem prevents many women from fully engaging in life,” says Dr Susan Paxton, who was involved with the research. “Women are under many pressures to conform to beauty ideals, and the report shows that social media is presenting a new challenge and adding pressure to look a certain way. The findings are certainly a call for action.”

Many people tend to change their ways of life because of the mocking and critical comments they get on their body image. These changes often lead to disorders or depression like eating disorders (binge eating, anorexia or bulimia), compulsive exercises (among all age groups), anxiety or suicidal tendencies (especially among teenagers). They start taking capsules or pills for getting slim, which can eventually have harsh consequences on their body. Girls go into dieting or binge eating because they are being fat shamed. They don’t even consult a doctor before doing so.

Nowadays, people don’t feel wrong in expressing their opinion out in the open. That is good, but shutting someone because of their body type is unacceptable. We are living in a time where magazines are showing enhanced and beautified pictures of models, exemplifying how a ‘perfect’ body type should be. Setting unrealistic standards for women and making them nervous about the things which are not even real. Kerry Washington took to Instagram to criticise the April 4 Adweek magazine cover, on which she appears. “It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling,” she wrote.

Magazines offering tips on how to get slim in days or how to get a perfect body in few weeks without even knowing our body type are common examples of body shaming. Even social media sites like Twitter and Instagram have become a hub of these cheap thrills. A very recent comment on Ariana Grande’s Twitter handle, ‘curves are sexy, sticks aren’t’, comparing her to Ariel Winter, is another example. Many celebrities like Taylor Swift, Jonah Hill, Rihanna, Lauren London, Amy Schumer, etc. have been victims of body shaming in various social media sites. Celebrities like Lauren London are criticised for their post pregnancy weight on social media. Girls posting pictures wearing a bikini are slut shamed. Why?

‘Her body is so flat’ or ‘you would never get a date with those thighs!’ or ‘he’s so ugly, I would never go out with him’ are constantly thrown around by people with the sole intention of insulting someone.

We automatically look at what is ‘wrong’ in our body because we think we are ‘flawed’. We try to fit into an unrealistic mould. Stop trying! Be who you are. Stand for every woman who has ever been humiliated for her shape or for the men who are being picked on for their size. Encourage and motivate people to balance a positive relationship with their body, to love themselves and the way they look. Every one of us is beautiful in a unique way. Celebrate that uniqueness!

Image source: Magnus D/ Flickr