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Body Shaming - Answers to All Your Questions

This is a transcript of a conversation with a volunteer at the Arpita Foundation. Arpita foundation, an established NGO that provides tele counseling and more. Feel free to call them at 08023656667 or 08023655557 (from 7 am to 9 pm). Remember you are not alone with your struggles.

What is Body Shaming?

Body shaming is where a person criticizes or makes fun of their own body. It can be done by others and can be nurtured by the person himself/herself.

How does body shaming psychologically affect someone?

Body Shaming affects the person both physically and psychologically. A person’s mental health can be affected a lot.

First thing, a person can become very anxious and can start losing confidence in themselves, so there’s a question of self-doubt always, they keep thinking about others opinions and they start feeling unworthy and resenting the way they look which sometimes leads to self-pity and lack of confidence, so this starts hampering their social behavior. So when this happens, the feeling of anxiety, unworthiness, loss of self-respect, and lack of confidence will start manifesting in another bigger way.

The next thing that happens is depression. The person starts to feel very low and because of the negative body image, they start hating their own body. This makes them think of pretty hurtful things amongst themselves and even can give rise to thoughts of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

In many other situations, eating disorders can set in. It can be in the form of anorexia or bulimia where the person feels that they have to lose weight no matter what. In some cases, the person starts binge eating a lot, and then because they are so depressed which results in further weight gain, which makes them go down even more.

In some circumstances, when the person is very skinny and they are told that they are not curvy enough, or if it’s a guy they are told that they are not masculine enough, which leads to them start eating in an unhealthy way, it further results in other physical problems, which will manifest in a physical sense and loss of positive mental health.

These are basic psychological effects that happen to a person when body-shaming is involved.

Why do people body shame others? What is the reason behind it?

Body shaming of people is increasing a lot day by day. Most of the time, people body shame others because according to them, they feel that is the standard of how a person should look like. We are in a world where we are introduced to a lot of things, media as a whole is a big sport, we have connectivity to almost anywhere across the world at our fingertips, so we have a lot of information at our fingertips, also we already have a sense of what is right, what is good and what is beautiful. As a society that is what's drilled in our minds and we follow that, there's also a sense of beauty that is there, so we feel that thin is beautiful, so in many cases, for some people, they feel that it is the actual truth and so they start body shaming others.

In some cases, body shaming happens very casually also; for example, there can be an aunt or an uncle who comes casually and says “You are so thin, what happened?” or “Oh my god, what happened, you ate nicely during the holidays.” So this is a casual passing remark except this remark can be taken up seriously by the person, so they start to overthink about this remark which hurts them even more.

In some cases, where a person has grown up also matters a lot, if they have grown up in a household where their family and the surrounding insists on a particular perfection of how to look, then this is also represented in the way they judge others.

If we think about the people participating in movies, soaps, and advertisements, there are always people who come across as being extremely beautiful, with all the light being focused on them. They are so fair and thin with hair is luxurious, even a 60-year-old person can pass off as a 16-year-old. Even though we know that it is not the truth, we like it, we get attracted towards it, even a 16-year-old will look at a 60-year-old and will want to become like that, not knowing that the 60-year-old is actually aching to become you, we are drawn into this world of illusions.

In many cases, these body shamers, are very insensitive and insecure, they don't understand how the other feels, they are not empathetic, they don't understand what feelings are and how it can hurt a person and how to put across something properly so they end up bullying someone, being the bullies who body shame others.

In many circumstances, some are so much into themselves that they feel they are the epitome of beauty thus the others should follow them. Especially in the case of teenagers in school and colleges, we have an ally click of girls and boys who have everything perfect in them and their entire school or college wants to follow them. So these people, who can be called narcissists, are also the bullies who end up body shaming others.

These are some of the examples of why someone can body shame others.

If a teenager is feeling insecure about their body, how can the therapist or counselor make them feel more confident about themselves?

The first thing a therapist does is that they try to have an understanding of the root of the problem, the place from where these thoughts started, where the loss of confidence happens, and what is the trigger. Once the trigger is understood, then it will be easier to have a conversation on how to go about it. so the most important thing is honesty and empathy, therefore there has to be proper communication between the therapist and the teenager involved.

Every individual is unique, even though we have the same body parts we all look different, so there’s individuality. The therapist will try to help the teenager in identifying their individuality, what makes them unique and the most important part is they will try to make the person understand what is the realistic image, no matter who body shames or what they talk of, the reality is something completely different, the basis of reality is that each person is what they are and everyone is beautiful in their own terms. There are a diverse range of body types and the way colors and each facial feature is. So firstly, setting up a realistic image and accepting who we are for ourselves is necessary. For example, an artistic person or a person who plays piano, their body type is very different from the person who plays volleyball, we cannot compare them both and say that this is the exact or the perfect body type. Once we understand these, it will be easy for us to accept ourselves for who we are and we need to understand that as long as we are healthy, other things can be taken care of. The foremost thing done has to be we need to spend time away from social media, the more we google, the more we search, the more we look at the airbrushed images of all models, the more insecure we can become.

There are so many terms like ultrafiltration, airbrush, and highlighting, even while taking selfies we use filters to make ourselves look brighter when the light falls. Many other camera tricks like this are used and in the magazines, it is used even more heavily. Once they are shown to the teenagers, they’ll start to get a better idea of what is real and what is filtered, even though it will take a series of sessions.

The next most important thing is to identify their eating pattern, when there is a lack of appetite or when there is over bingeing of food, all these are signs of depression so this has to be taken into account and the person's eating habits are taken into consideration and it is necessary to be physically active. The therapist will help the person to understand and take care of their body in a better sense, but they have to be more physically active, when we start being physically active everything else falls in place, we become fitter and when the next time a person body shames us, we know how to report back because we are more confident now.

These are some of the things by which a therapist can help a person feel more confident about their body.

Why is it necessary to seek professional help if someone body shaming you is impacting you negatively?

When we feel depressed, anxious, worried all the time, it's eating us up, all these things will definitely want us to have someone who we can reach out to and who will understand us and help us.

Another reason why professional help is required is when a family member is body shaming us, generally, people will ask us to ignore them and say that it's okay, they won't see it as a serious issue, though body-shaming is a simple and common problem, it is difficult for other people to understand it. When we are in a whirlpool of depression and body shaming and the need for this perfect body, all these will not enter our head, our only goal will be to look like whatever is there in the magazine or the person who is telling us that we need to lose weight or put on weight. So, during this time professional help will definitely help the person. The most important reason why professional help is the best is that there will be no judgment involved. When we have to talk to a relative or a family member or even a friend, we wince inwards and wonder what will the person think about us or the person might not understand the seriousness of the problems. When we go to the professional help of a third person, they won't judge us and they have experience in the field through which they will be able to help us much better. So it is important to seek professional help. Body-shaming is a serious issue that is not taken into light that much.

Why is body shaming a serious issue?

Teenage is the age when we are supposed to concentrate on building ourselves for the future and getting our foundation right. During this period, we start being insecure about our body, and instead of nurturing it and growing it, we harm it.

When we are body-shamed by others, we don't think about our health and do whatever it takes for us to look perfect, which is so wrong and unhealthy. What we do in our teenage is what is going to help us when we get old, when we exterminate our body it undergoes a lot of turmoil, we should remember that when we are old these body-shamers will be busy with their own body, they are not on serious health issues but we are and we will lose out on that, so as teenagers we need to take care of our own body, health is utmost important, what we eat now is going to help us survive later, especially for girls, it is important to eat and maintain a healthy balanced diet so that in the future we don't have any other health issues because at that time even the science or medicines cannot help us, therefore our health has to be taken into very serious consideration.

Is it normal as a teenager to feel insecure about your body?

Yes, it is very normal. Teenage is the age where hormones are surging, it is the age to explore, our body is going through so many changes, so at that time when there are so many changes happening it is very natural to be worried or conscious about our body. This is a normal reaction but how each person handles it is important. For example, when puberty strikes a boy or a girl goes through so many changes, both physically and mentally, like height, weight, development of body parts, pubic hair, etc, so when these body changes happen, the feeling of insecurity rises and we start comparing our body with others, some people might mature faster or some might take time. When these changes happen there will be some questions like what is happening, will society take me, how are they looking at me, is my body okay, am I correct am or I fitting into the social standards, etc, and these questions are very common and nothing to fret about. Having these questions and doubts is completely okay, the problem comes if you don't have these questions. It is normal to ask questions when changes happen. What matters is how you handle the changes.


We are perfect as we are, we are designed in a particular way, our genes are our in a particular way and we can't change the way we look. The only thing we can do is eat healthily and exercise, but we should never do something our body is not ready to do. When we are physically active, your body will automatically change.

When someone comes up to you and tells you that “If you lose weight you will look more beautiful", just smile and say okay, don't take it too hard because that's not healthy, you’ll become more anxious and depressed. Don't stress so much, enjoy your life. All the body shamers can take a step back, but remember if the severity is too much, seek professional help, they’ll definitely hold your hand and help you find a solution to tackle your problems. You are not alone.

Transcript put together by - -Diya Agrawal ( writer at Just a Teen )

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