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Why We Should Eliminate Body Shaming

“She could really afford to work out every now and then.”

“God, you’re so skinny. Go eat a cheeseburger or something.”

“Should you really be eating that?”

“I feel like I should really cut back on what I eat.”

“I can’t believe I look like that.”

“What’s wrong with my body?”

Those are just a few a few examples of of the variety of criticisms made about women’s bodies on a daily base. Statements such as these can come from all around us–from the media, the magazines, our favorite celebrities, our friends, even sometimes our families and ourselves. We live in a society obsessed with skinny-shaming and fat-shaming. I think that it is dangerous, obsessive and harmful for women everywhere.

I’m not saying I’m entirely innocent in this ordeal. There have been many times after a particularly filling meal where I chastise myself with things like, “Why did you just eat so much? You’re going to have to work that off later.” Although it might seem like a relatively straightforward statement, if perpetuated over time these habits restrict our love for ourselves and our bodies.

Saying that I have to workout because I treated myself to a donut one day doesn’t reflect positivity on practicing healthy lifestyle habits. It says that I equate working out directly to efforts of staying thin. This is really not okay, but it will take a collective effort for us all to realize that shaming our bodies won’t make any of us skinner, curvier, thicker, or more athletic. The fact of the matter is there is always going to be some pressure to look one way or another. We are perpetually unhappy people, brought up in a society with unrealistic beauty standards. It’s time to realize that we can also set standards for ourselves that transcend looks.

We have to realize that the pressure to have the perfect body is never going to completely go away, but we can all play a part in correcting ourselves, our friends and everyone around us when body shaming comes up in any form. I think it’s about time that we all try our best to let it go, not bring others down because of body differences and realize that we’re not defined by something as trivial as pants size.

I cannot keep count of how many times I’ve had close friends of mine freak out over their eating, whether it’s too much or not enough. This ultimately translates into how we often see our bodies as well: we’re always either going to be “too much” or “not enough.”

So how can we all go about this process of healing and commit to better loving our bodies and each other? How can we all continue to strive to do better and shut out all of the noise? I think that one of the first steps is realizing that shame is shame, whether its shame over what you’ve put into your own body or shaming another woman for what she does with hers. Researcher Brene Brown said in her TED Talk that “Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.”

Next, we should take note of the power of feeding our mind. Exercises such as positive affirmations can improve not just our outlooks on our body but also our mental health, sense of security and anxiety. This is a practice that is meant to release some of the negativity from the mind by correcting statements of criticism with positive beliefs. Trying it feels so good and is just another step towards a better sense of self and peace of mind.

Last, we have to realize that we can’t control everyone’s actions. It is ultimately impossible to completely shut out all of the noise. We can’t control if the people around us continue to shame themselves or each other, but we can promote a healthy sense of awareness of the issue. Initiating an argument with a friend by saying something like,“You need to shut up about your body” will only drive a wedge between you and push her further away from realizing the true harm in body shaming. Broach the topic lightly, but have the conversation.

According to Brene Brown (how could I not quote her twice), “empathy is the antidote to shame.” Let’s all take a pledge to spread empathy to anyone who has ever felt shame over their bodies!

 

Photos found through Google Images

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Haley Smith

Northwestern

Haley is currently a Journalism major at Northwestern University, Sociology minor. She is also pursuing a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications. She has written for several campus publications and is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She has a few unhealthy habits that include obsessing over British boys with good hair, wanting to watch way too many eighties movies and lurking on various forms of social media.
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