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“I’m Not Like Other Girls”: Why Some Women Body Shame Other Women

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Body shaming has affected humans all over the world for decades now, and its growing day by day. With social media factoring in towards such toxicity, it’s what our loved ones say, that matters most.

While some people face degrading comments and messages from strangers online, some people have faced this issue with their family members and friends.

Internalised Misogyny

Many a times, women experience body shaming. But this isn’t that shocking, is it? What’s shocking is the fact that girls are body shamed by other girls.

Body shaming refers to making fun of someone’s body, be it their height, weight, appearance or any other physical characteristic. Representational image.

Women say things like: “I’m not like other girls,” or “she doesn’t look beautiful” or “what is she wearing that doesn’t suit her body type.” But what they don’t get is that every girl is amazing, in her own way.

Maybe, once in a while, you may point a person out and say you’re not like them. But there is no point differentiating between us girls. We have bigger issues at hand right now.

Such incidents, where women project sexist behavior and attitudes onto other women, is called internalised misogyny.

Who Is The Other Girl?

Society plays a major role in this as well. Who do you think, according to the society, is the “other girl”?

Roshini Jacintha from Bangalore thinks that the other girl , according to society is,”The girl who has too many male friends, who don’t dress up according to what they (the society) have in their head, or how they (the society) expect us too, girls who want to do every normal thing a boy would want to do. Basically, the moment you try to act equally, you become the other girl.”

While we’re on the subject of society and Jacintha, we should also talk about growing out of the society’s mindset of women. Some people, as they grow older and become more mature, eventually grow out of it. But for some people this isn’t the case.

Women Need To Ask Why

Let’s see what Samiksha Rungta, a home baker, had to say about this.

When asked how she grew out society’s mindset for women, she said: “Honestly, I don’t know If I’m completely out if it because patriarchy is so embedded in our mindset that every day, I learn something new about how we have compromised, so it’s easier for men.

It was a learning process for me because I was willing, and I am still willing to change. I remember how I had slut shamed a senior in school when I was 13 and now that I think about it, I feel ashamed of my mindset and wish I could change it.

But the thing is, it started with small steps, there were always statements like: ‘women shouldn’t wear clothes which are revealing’ or ‘they should wear a bra’, but why?

The change started when I started questioning the society, like my parents, grandparents, and they never had a logical answer. That’s how I realised that I need to change in order to let the society change as well.”

Body Shaming Is Toxic

Body shaming is also one of the toxic traits Rungta had to grow up with. For those, who are new to the concept, body shaming is the act of mocking a person’s physical appearance.

The society’s view of women on how they should be “thin and beautiful” is something we need to change. Fat shaming is not only a problem in our country, but also all around the world.

Each body is different, and beautiful in its own way. Fat shaming leads to stress, depression and other mental health concerns.

What hurts more is to see that its done more by girls to other girls. Degrading and demeaning other women on a regular basis, passing mean comments, calling them out, and so on, is just a part of what a woman has to suffer through each and every day.

Social Media Amplifies Shaming

Social media has escalated the situation instead of helping it’s audience. Models, actresses, influencers posting content on how women need to always look perfect and stylish and thin. Although, a lot of change has happened here.

After a lot of protests, emails, stories, articles; celebrities have started to post content from their daily lives and their regular looks. But the online community harassed them for this too, via unkind comments, death threats, rape threats, hence, bringing down their morale.

An actress being trolled in the comments section of her Instagram page. Representational image. Photo credit: Sonam K Ahuja, Instagram.

This is just one example, where a very plain, regular picture was posted, but people used it as an opportunity to pull an actress down.

The hatred, dirty looks, threats have not only affected girls, but older women too. Some get terminated on the basis of their looks, while other’s don’t get enough acknowledgment just because the company wants to maintain an image.

What they don’t get is that your qualities put you apart, not just your looks or beauty.

Trans Women Are Beautiful

We should also address the rising problems of the LQBTQIA+ community while we are at it. For instance, when a trans person decides to go through gender affirmation surgery, and physically transition, they are still regarded as nothing.

They are also humans, and if they choose to become girls, we should be proud that we have created such a space where some people choose to be like us. The more, the merrier. They are part of our team, and we should have each other’s back rather than criticizing them.

Beings, Not Bodies

It’s a pity that the younger generations will have to grow up in such a toxic environment, where people have started using simple adjectives like fat and thin in a negative voice.

It’s our duty to teach them how to embrace their scars. Everyone needs to understand that belittling someone is not good. Instead, we should appreciate one another and live happily ever after.

What kind of a world do you want to live in? One, where people judge you on the basis of your weight, color, sex, job, caste, religion, gender etc. or one, where you are accepted for just being yourself, nothing more and nothing less.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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