In our current day and age, social media dictates many of the ideologies and trends of our generation. Teenagers and young adults idolize the lives of influencers as they try their hardest to look and live as celebrities do. For decades the media has pushed out unrealistic images of how male and female bodies should appear. Whether it’s in photos, television, or on social media, a single body type has consistently been conveyed to the public, causing young men and women to misconstrue what is “normal.”
As social media has become increasingly more popular, body shaming has been taken to a whole new level. Not only are celebrities getting body shamed, but now, ordinary people are getting picked apart on social media each day for simply posting a photo or video. With the rise of Tik Tok this past year, I have witnessed more body shaming than ever before. Women and men are both constantly put down for being too “skinny” or too “big”, and these harmful words can truly take a toll on a person. Not only is attacking someone’s outward appearance incredibly insensitive, but the use of this language can be especially triggering to an individual who has suffered from a condition such as an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. These discouraging words can bring an individual’s recovery to a halt, causing lasting mental and physical damage.
Body shaming also may have many potential detrimental impacts on younger generations. Unlike the simple social media sites we had growing up, the new generation of young girls and boys are growing up with complex social media sites filled with likes and comments. What makes matters worse is the fact that these comments are public and relatively unfiltered, causing young girls and boys to grow up in an environment where they become accustomed to witnessing others being torn apart on social media on a daily basis. These “hate comments” are not silly jabs at others – they are direct attacks on the appearances of others. With the next generation of men and women growing up on social media, it is important that we do not regularize this negative view of bodies for years to come. Body shaming is no small issue – it is impacting the confidence and body image of thousands on a daily basis. You never truly know what a person is going through or how your words or actions could be perceived.
In order to motivate yourself to love and appreciate your body and help those who have been affected by body shaming, here are a few tips:
- If You See It, Speak Up
In the event that someone you know tells you that they were body shamed or you witnessed body shaming take place firsthand, speak up. Let them know that they are beautifully made and no words of hate from others could ever change that. Body shaming must be stopped before it becomes out of control.
- Surround Yourself with Friends that Uplift and Encourage You
It is always important to surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you. If you have a friend who is putting someone down based solely on their appearance, chances are they regularly participate in this negative behavior. Instead, make friends out of the people who choose to lift others up with a more positive outlook on body image. It may be cheesy, but follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. This is a key character trait that you and your friends should strive to possess.
- Follow More Body-Positive Creators
Since the majority of our generation is on social media each day, follow individuals who will make your feed a source of encouragement rather than a source of hate. These creators are constantly working to uplift others by teaching more about healthy body image. One of my favorite body-positive creators is on Tik Tok and her handle is “@nabela.” Nabela Noor is a strong, Bangledeshi-American woman who strives to promote beauty diversity. Her daily videos provide peace to those suffering from stress or anxiety as well as motivation for women to feel beautiful and confident in their bodies.