It exists. In subtle ways. Body-shaming has been an inherent part of the society ever since its existence. Did you know that a research conducted said that only 1 in 10 people feel good about their body? Speaks volumes doesn’t it? How to cope with body-shaming is another story altogether.
How to recognize body shaming?
I recollect the cold winter morning. Since my skin got really dry in the winters, I had applied that extra Ponds Cold Cream on my face and rushed to the bus stop to go to school. One of the boys pointed to me and called me oily face. I must have been 12. I didn’t know how to react, but just took out the napkin and tried to rub out the extra cream from my face. The name Oily Face was an inherent part of my school days.
That was the first instance I recollect about being body-shamed and little did I know that it would manifest in my life in many other ways only to leave me thinking, “How to cope with body-shaming?”
- “It’s a pity that you didn’t get your mother’s flawless complexion. Look at her, so fair and pretty and you are on the darker side with so many marks on your face.”
- “You shouldn’t be wearing dresses. They don’t suit your body type.”
- “Your skin looks so dull, go get a facial done.”
- “You look really fat for this dress. Wear something else.”
- “With that kind of a body, you’ll be lucky if you get married?”
- “You really should color your hair; the greys are too much.” – My all time favorite that has been dumped on me time and again.
If you’ve known me, you’ve seen my hair in various hues of red, blue, green, pinks and purples. But the greys, don’t bother me. This and more. I’ve heard them all and never thought much about it, because I never do, but I realized that these were all subtle hints on body shaming.
What are the effects of body shaming?
Extensive levels of body-shaming can have negative emotional effects, including a reduction in self-esteem and other issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, body dysmorphia and depression. Also, body shaming can lead to serious depression, especially when people feel their body cannot meet social criteria. (Wikipedia).
How does body shaming affect a person?
Often humiliating, body-shaming can have very painful and long-term consequences that can also lead to depression. People indulging in body-shaming often mock at the victims making them feel that their appearance is not the norm of the so-called society.
How to cope with body-shaming?
Every person has their own coping mechanism. Not everyone can deal it in one way. While some seek the help of therapists, others indulge in things that make them happy. There are also some who shrug away the people indulge in body shaming.
For me most of the times, it does trigger my anxiety, but I chose different ways to eliminate anxiety and choose to accept myself. No matter what the situation is, here are some of my tried and tested tips that help me cope with body shaming.
Tips on coping with body-shaming
- Spending time with people who accept me for the way I am.
- I often head out for dates alone. I call it me-time. Heading to my favorite café to work from them for a bit or indulging in my favorite dish alone. Being on your own is a different level of happiness altogether.
- Go for long walks that really calm me down. Do something that makes you feel happy.
- Do something that makes you feel accomplished. As someone who writes for other publications often, nothing is more satisfying that seeing my byline out there. And also receiving messages from random people about how much the post resonated with them.
- Talk to someone you trust about how body shaming makes you feel. Keeping these emotions inside can make things worse. It is perfectly fine to rant it out sometimes.
- Ever tried doing something nice for others? If yes, do that more often.
- Affirm that you love yourself and your body.
- Practice being kind towards your body. The kinder you are towards yourself, the more resilient you’ll be when you experience body shaming.
- Curate your social media. I do follow a lot of people who talk about how they cope with body shaming and they are unabashed about it. There would be a time when I would hesitate to post a pic of myself on Instagram because of the comments I would get. But not anymore! Follow people from diverse cultures who are putting out diverse, uplifting messages about body acceptance.
It isn’t as easy or difficult as it sounds on how to cope with body shaming. Each of us have our own inner demons to tackle and battles to fight. Coping with positivity and being aware of your own existence can be a game changer. Try it.
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Note: If you face severe anxiety or panic attacks because of body-shaming, it is best to consult your doctor for the right treatment.