Let’s Put an End to Body Shaming

By: Ivey Smith ’15, University Health Center, Dietetic Student Volunteer

How often have you heard someone you care about, perhaps a friend, say something negative about his or her body? How often have you said something negative about your own body or someone else’s?

I believe everyBODY is beautiful. Let’s put an end to body shaming.

Body shaming isn’t limited to the cruel comments we toss around behind people’s backs about their weight; body shaming occurs any time we say something negative about anybody’s body – including your own.

Some common examples of body shaming are:

  • Saying, “I am so fat; I hate my thighs!”
  • Commenting on Facebook, “Wow, this is not fashion skin and bones too much”
  • Pointing out that the clothes someone chose to wear didn’t flatter their body type

Even doing something as small as acknowledging a change in another person’s body that you perceive to be negative, is body shaming.

I work in an industry where my body is constantly under scrutiny; everyone including photographers, booking agents, makeup artists, stylists, family and friends alike-seem to have an opinion about my body.

Being a fashion model opens up a whole new door for criticism. I have been called “scary skinny”, “skin and bones”; I have been told to “eat a hamburger” on more occasions than I care to count and too often I feel I am defined solely by my physical appearance.

I struggle sometimes to remember that the most important opinion is my own, that I am the only true expert on my body.

If you take the time to get to know me, you may be surprised to find out that I have a very healthy relationship with food. I eat chocolate when I crave it (without any remorse!) and maintain a balanced diet so that I have energy for the activities I love.

We are all guilty of saying insensitive things about the physical appearance of others and ourselves, and we have probably all had someone say something hurtful about our own bodies.

By becoming aware of how our words and opinions affect others, we can help put an end to body shaming. Here’s how:

1. Take ownership of your body. It sounds silly to imagine not owning your body, but any time we criticize and say unkind or hateful things about our bodies, we are distancing ourselves from them. We are who we are, because of our strengths, not our weaknesses. 5 ways to love the skin you’re in >>

2. Train your brain with positivity. Any time you feel the urge to say something negative about your body or someone else’s, pause and take a step back. Think of one positive attribute about yourself or someone else and say that instead. For example, before turning to your friend and pointing out something negative about the way a person’s clothes fit their body, you could instead remark on his or her confidence or simply say nothing at all.

3. Be responsible for your “internet-self”. If you wouldn’t say something out loud to someone’s face, then you should definitely think twice about publishing it on social media. Typed words are just as, if not more hurtful, than those that are spoken; they are out there for all to see.

4. Check yourself. Recognize that you are not the authority on anyone’s body but your own. Realize that saying anything about another person’s size or shape will probably do more harm than good. And finally, understand that you do not know all the facts about a person’s life. Everyone is fighting a battle; some may be just beginning to wage war while others are struggling in the thick of it. It is up to us, society, to extend hands in support and help each other succeed.

The world is hard enough to navigate with out body shaming thrown into the mix.

Remember, everyBODY is beautiful; when in doubt, open your eyes and close your mouth!

To receive personalized nutrition tips and advice, reserve your free diet analysis session with the University Health Center.

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4 Responses to Let’s Put an End to Body Shaming

  1. Nancy says:

    Very thought provoking & convicting. Why do we feel the need to b critical & shame others’ just to make us feel better about ourselves? will train my brain w positivity.

  2. Sarah Frazier says:

    Ivey, thank you for your insight! I think so many people open their mouths before they think about what it was like for their body to be scrutinized (I KNOW it has happened to all of us in some way). It is so important to remember that the human body has the power to do INCREDIBLE things, no matter what it looks like!

  3. Emily says:

    I absolutely love this topi! I think Ivey hit the nail on the head when describing this topic. It is so wonderful to hear an opinion like this coming from someone in the fashion industry. What a great role model!

  4. Thank you Ivey for highlighting a very important topic. The world would be a very boring place if all bodies were the same shape and size. Health and beauty come in a variety of shapes and sizes. http://www.haescommunity.org/
    The world would be a much happier place if we all respected the natural diversity of body shape and sizes ~ our own as well as others.

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