“Did you lose weight? You look great now!”
Seems like a compliment, doesn't it?
A lot of the body shaming that happens around us is covert and usually veiled as a compliment or an icebreaker. Here are some other common ways in which we body shame, or encourage body shaming with or without realising it.
1. Fashion Policing
"Are you sure that's the right dress for you? No, I mean..."
There is no need to follow “people should dress according to their body types” and such social or fashion norms are usually targeted to make you look thinner or fuller or hide flaws. Who even decides these flaws and standards of beauty? Let us all try to enjoy the way we dress, and not use it to please or judge others.
2. Skinny Shaming
“You're so lucky because you're skinny. You can eat whatever you want”.
Joking about someone because they look thin or skinny is a subtle form of body shaming. Sure, sometimes it's just envy for someone's great metabolism. But a lot of times, we say such things without knowing the person and their thoughts about their body well enough. Most of us are not as outraged about it as fat shaming simply because it's not considered as offensive.
3. Unsolicited diet or exercise advice.
Everyone loves talking about their exercise routine or diet plan, especially if it's working for them. But we often cross this line unconsciously by suggesting diet or physical activity changes, if not directly telling somebody to lose/gain weight.
For someone already struggling with body-image issues, such unsolicited advice might simply trigger their feelings. So the next time we feel like advising someone about how to appear more 'perfect', let's just hold back for a moment and ask ourselves if they really asked for it.
4. Tolerating body shaming
Sure, you may read this and say, "I don't really do any of that." But tolerating body shaming around us also encourages the problem instead of curbing it. Whether it is by educating others who body shame, or by encouraging individuals who are body shamed around us, we all have a part to play in this game. And if we are doing nothing when we observe it, we might as well be cheering it on.
There are many other subtle ways and jibes in our conversations that we may hear or use to refer to someone's physical appearance. They do not fall into broad categories, but the world would be a much nicer place if we all avoided saying them and tolerating them. Let's try one day and one person at a time, to weed out body shaming from our social interaction. And maybe, just maybe we will have a tomorrow where body image issues are not such a great cause of tragedy for individuals and society.