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How To Finally Stop Body-Shaming (And Mind Your Own Body Business)

Updated on March 10, 2017
Farawaytree profile image

Michelle is inspired by topics that may be considered taboo in society, centering around women's issues, culture, environment, and health.

Why are we so obsessed with what our bodies look like?
Why are we so obsessed with what our bodies look like? | Source

Body Labels

Is it ever okay to call someone a "skinny bitch"?

How about calling someone a "fat slob"?

While we constantly see people criticizing others for their body size on social media and in real life, it's generally not considered politically correct to do so.

So why are many of us still doing it? Why are we so obsessed with people's bodies and our own? Is it less of an offense to make fun of a person for being thin as opposed to making fun of a person with more weight? Since when did any type of body-shaming become okay?

Source

While it seems to be acceptable in our culture to ridicule people who are thin, many people go up in arms if an overweight person is made fun of or told their lifestyle is unhealthy.

In fact, there have been several reality shows that have been devoted to overweight people in recent years.The attempt to humanize overweight people in the media has been a reaction to something called "fat shaming".

Reality Television & Body Shaming

Many of the reality shows that focus on overweight people appear to be trying to arouse sympathy from the viewer as to why these people are overweight.

The goal here seems to be to show viewers that not all fat people are lazy and gluttonous, as is commonly associated with being overweight or obese.

"My Big Fat Fabulous Life," is about a woman who became overweight due to a medical condition and each episode centers around her struggle.

"Ruby," is a reality-documentary style show about a woman who is trying to control her weight and problem with overeating.

There's also, "The biggest Loser" which is a competition between overweight people who strive to lose the most weight to win the title of, "The Biggest Loser".

Whether either of these women are in good health or not,  fat shaming has been replaced with skinny shaming and it needs to stop.
Whether either of these women are in good health or not, fat shaming has been replaced with skinny shaming and it needs to stop. | Source
Body size and weight are of the most popular conversation topics for people
Body size and weight are of the most popular conversation topics for people | Source

The Body Shaming Backlash

We live in a body-conscious world. Everyone talks about their body size and weight.

Whether people are discussing how much weight they put on over Christmas, or how much weight they lost on that new trendy diet/cleanse, the conversation overweight never seems to get old.

This is an issue for both men and women, but generally, it's an issue that is more openly talked about by women. Almost obsessively so.

That's not to say men don't have the same anxieties about their bodies, it's just not in the media as much.

But when it comes down to talking about other people's weight, things get complicated.

Where in the past we've seen people looking down on those who are overweight, instead, there's been a backlash. Now, more so than not, people who are skinny - naturally or due to diet and exercise - are being verbally crucified.

If you're attractive and slender, it appears to be acceptable for observers to throw statements out like, "Oh she probably has an eating disorder," or, "She must have had plastic surgery, she's so fake!" It's not acceptable, however, to say of a fat person, "Look who ate a whole box of donuts," or "what a fat, horrible person."

Overweight people have become protected and considered on social media platforms recently. You would think this is great news, and it is. But why have we gone to the other end of the body shaming spectrum?

Children are told by their parents not to make fun of overweight kids and, actually, with child obesity on the rise in America, there are more overweight children in schools than ever. Are the more slender children are becoming a minority? Is this just a case of majority rules, and the minority gets ridiculed?

Are overweight people being exploited with all these reality shows that follow them around everywhere like a circus act? Are we learning anything from watching overweight people struggle on television?

If you're overweight because you don't exercise and eat tons of processed, fattening foods, then that's your choice. But it seems that if you're thin because you do exercise and try to eat more healthy foods, you're cast aside as being vain and selfish.

Even if you don't exercise or watch what you eat and are still thin, you may likely be a victim of skinny-shaming. The battle between women as to what men find more sexy in regards to body fat is also an unrelenting issue.

The hit song, "It's all about the bass," was an instant smash, and the video features the singer, Meghan Trainor (who does not appear to be overweight) and an obviously overweight man dancing up a storm. The lyrics imply that it's okay to have some fat on you and that skinny girls are pathetic losers who only care about what they look like.

Overweight people have become protected and considered on social media platforms recently. You would think this is great news, and it is. But why have we gone to the other end of the body shaming spectrum?

Song lyrics from the song, "All About the Bass"
Song lyrics from the song, "All About the Bass" | Source

The sentiment of the song means well. It's supposed to be empowering for young girls growing up in a beauty/selfie-obsessed culture. But what the video does that strikes as disturbing is it makes fun of the thin, "model" type of woman. Besides showing young girls that it's okay to be chubby, it's also showing young girls that it's okay to hate on skinny girls.

Meghan Trainor in "All about the Bass"
Meghan Trainor in "All about the Bass" | Source

We teach children that it's not okay for strangers to touch their bodies or cross boundaries, but what about when it comes to commenting on other people's bodies?

The Media Body Blitz

Is this the way to end body shaming? By turning it around on the thin people of the world? Can't people feel good about their own bodies without putting someone else down? Is this not the essential intent of body shaming? To shame someone for the way they look? So why is it okay do focus shaming on thin people?

Granted, ads and music videos are full of thin, busty, barbie doll types, and maybe that's just not fair. But that is still not a good excuse to shame someone who isn't overweight or who naturally looks a certain way.

Even if someone had plastic surgery to make themselves look a certain way - who are we to judge?

Victoria's Secret got in big trouble with this ad, which was said to be fat-shaming women.
Victoria's Secret got in big trouble with this ad, which was said to be fat-shaming women. | Source

The need for people to feel good about themselves on the outside is endless. Even the most self-assured of us need an ego boost sometimes.

But when it comes to our bodies, we seem to hit a brick wall.

Remember being taught in school to keep your hands to yourself?

We teach children that it's not okay for strangers to touch their bodies or cross boundaries, but what about when it comes to commenting on other people's bodies?

Have we crossed the line?

Insecurity about body size is ever prevalent
Insecurity about body size is ever prevalent | Source

Is this the way to end body shaming? By turning it around on the thin people of the world? Can't people feel good about their own bodies without putting someone else down?

Fitness advocate and blogger Maria Kang hit a deep nerve with women when she founded the "no excuse mom" movement. Mothers were either inspired by her message or enraged by it.

Maria stood for mothers making the time to work out and be fit, rather than making excuses. She famously posed looking slim and buff with her three sons along with the slogan, "What's Your Excuse?"

Maria Kang in her "What's Your Excuse" campaign
Maria Kang in her "What's Your Excuse" campaign | Source

Maria garnered a storm of media attention and also a severe backlash from mothers everywhere. Many women felt Kang was being insensitive with her "no excuse" message, and attacking overweight people. In 2013, Facebook shut down Kang's account due to a user complaint that she was using hate speech towards obese people.

After seeing an article in the Daily Mail about obese and plus-size women posing in lingerie, Maria used Facebook to express her opinions about the photos. Kang stated:

"The popular and unrelenting support received to those who are borderline obese (not just 30 to 40 lbs overweight) frustrates me as a fitness advocate who intimately understands how poor health negatively effects a family, a community, and a nation."

Kang faced intense scrutiny after this statement, but she stood by her message that she felt it was not healthy to support or encourage people who are overweight and unhealthy to stay that way.

Interview with Maria Kang regarding the media backlash against her

Why are we so upset about our bodies and everyone else's bodies? Is it just our overwhelming insecurity that exposes our inner ugliness when we decide to shame people for being either too fat or too thin?

Maria Kang has inspired countless women and mothers to get fit and her message resonates with many moms who did feel they were making excuses for not being fit and healthy. In that respect, Kang has been extremely successful both with her blogs, diet books, and fitness coaching.

Maria Kang's expresses herself after a media backlash against her fitness views
Maria Kang's expresses herself after a media backlash against her fitness views | Source

So, the question remains. Why are we so upset about our bodies and everyone else's bodies? Is it just our overwhelming insecurity that exposes our inner ugliness when we decide to shame people for being either too fat or too thin?

Are overweight people being exploited with all these reality shows that follow them around everywhere like a circus act? Are we learning anything from watching overweight people struggle on television?

While it's possible people may take comfort in reality shows like this if they are struggling with the same issues, aren't we just being voyeurs into someone else's misery?

Ruby Gettinger Talks About Her Reality Show Journey

The key to ending body shaming of any body is to stop and take a look at yourself in the mirror. You either accept what you see or admit what improvements would make you feel better about yourself, not according to the internet, or a music video.

Curing the Sickness of Shaming

While it seems to be acceptable to shame thin people in popular culture, and boast about being more voluptuous, it doesn't appear that it's okay for someone like Maria Kang to boast about her fitness accomplishments.

Double standards exist everywhere, and this would be another added to the list. But how we can go about biting our tongues and stop thinking it's our business to talk about other people's bodies is yet another issue yet to be resolved.

At the root of all of us are our deepest fears and insecurities. When people are not happy with themselves, are jealous and afraid of making changes, they tend to lash out at everyone around them and focus on everything wrong with someone else.

The key to ending body shaming of any body is to stop and take a look at yourself in the mirror. You either accept what you see or admit what improvements would make you feel better about yourself, not according to the internet, or a music video.

The social sickness of not minding your business is just a tactic we all use to distract ourselves from the task at hand, which is taking care of your own body and business. As soon as people stop distracting themselves with gossip and body shaming, they'll find more room in their lives to be able to accept themselves and move on.

No matter what you say about your own body or anyone else's body, at the end of the day, we are all responsible for ourselves and what goes in and out of our mouths. You only get one body, so the beneficial, smart thing to do is treat it the way you see fit, and let others do the same with theirs.

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    • Farawaytree profile image
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      Michelle Zunter 9 months ago from California

      Thank you!!

    • Farawaytree profile image
      Author

      Michelle Zunter 14 months ago from California

      Thank you! This is an issue I see over and over it's bothered me for some time. The "skinny-shaming" is especially infantile. I hope my hub is useful!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a great hub and you make excellent points. Why can't we just accept one another for how they are and all their differences? It would be a very boring world if everyone looked the same. Why does one or more sections of society always have to be shamed? It is so wrong..but how do we stop it, and with social media now the new rage it has become harder than ever. Thank you for writing this important article. I hope you get thousands of readers. Have a great New Year.

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