Now that we’re in college, it has become freshly apparent to some that the world isn’t entirely rainbows and butterflies. There are some truly terrible people out there- some holding large amounts of power in political office, some attempting to hold large amounts of power, and some who just spread that every day uncalled for type of cruelty. When it comes down to that every day type of cruelty though, I find that there is no one worse than someone who body shames others, especially when they are trying to do something about it.
For those who have been lucky enough to be blissfully unaware, body shaming is when one zones in on what they consider to be “an imperfection” about either themselves or others and makes humiliation and potentially harmful comments about that part. Body shaming is not limited to any gender or size and can be found in movies, such as ”Shallow Hal” in which, you guessed it, a shallow man named Hal starts seeing people for their inner beauty instead of how they look on the outside. While that wouldn’t usually be terrible, the love focus is a wonderful girl who he sees as skinny and calls beautiful when, in fact, she is considered to be obese. While yes, skinny people are beautiful, so are obese people, and every person in between, hence why this is considered body shaming.
Body shaming is bad enough—no one has the right to look at another and declare themselves better or the other one worse based off of their looks—but body shaming while someone is working out? That’s even worse. While people of all sizes are equally beautiful, each in their own, unique way, many people do realize that there is a point that can be considered medically unhealthy. This can be people whose weight fluctuates too quickly and people who are medically considered both extremely over and underweight. For these people, it is usually encouraged by a friend, parent, or doctor that they work out and consider a steady diet in order to reach a healthy balance, which, if they can keep up with it, can get them to a healthier more consistent point in their life.
Not being at that point does not mean that someone is not absolutely gorgeous the way they are.
In order to get to that point, though, many people utilize generalized diets and create gym schedules that best fit them, which is amazing on its own, but does lead to a whole new type of shaming—the worst kind. People who change their body either for medical reasons or entirely because they want to go to the gym to complete this mission in the healthiest way possible, which is entirely natural. They work and they sweat to either lose weight or gain muscle or find a happy medium in which they can appreciate the wonderful body that they were awarded when they were born. These people gather up the courage to go out and be the change that they truly want to see—starting with themselves. They accomplish this change through struggle, sweat, and tears, and yet people have the audacity to make faces or crack jokes about them in the gym.
Everyone remembers that feeling of being new in the gym—that secretive glance that you took at every machine label because, for the life of you, you didn’t know what a single one of those monsters did. You felt as though everyone was staring at you or mocking you, whether it was because you weren’t using the equipment right or because your weights were too low to be “acceptable”. Remembering that feeling, you should be able to have at least a small understanding of how these people feel—people who are already self-conscious about what they feel is too skinny or too heavy or too average going in to a place that is filled with body images that they are struggling to achieve.
And instead of just feeling that people are laughing at them, they are hearing it. They do not get the excuse of just being paranoid about an unfamiliar activity. These men and women sit down with a machine and sweat maybe a little faster during cardio than the average gym goer and get mocked; they attempt to raise their weights and build muscle only to be snickered at; they take a break between sets only to catch people quickly avoiding eye contact while laughing with their friends. These people can hear it, can see it in the faces of those around them and in their reflections on the mirror. These people hear it when you make fun of the sweat stains that merely prove that they were truly working harder than ever before.
Because these amazing, hardworking, inspiring people can hear the cruel mocking taking place from behind them, they stop. They stop going to the gym, they lose the desire to work to change into what they were once willing to truly struggle for. They feel as though they are being shamed for having done more than some people have done in their entire lives.
The boy who wanted to lose what his parents kept excusing as baby fat so that he could feel better when he took his shirt of at the pool now avoids both the gym and pool, for fear of people mocking him once more.
The girl who was always praised for how skinny she was gave up her dream of playing lacrosse because she now feels foolish trying to work out and gain muscle.
The four roommates who promised to lose weight together after one of them was told by a doctor that they were considered obese is now down to three roommates. The fourth has trouble even looking at the others when they leave.
So feel free to take this as an open letter to body shamers: These people are still beautiful, despite your words. They are still wholesome and entirely unique creations that are perfect in their own skin. Your words will not leave a physical bruise, but it will leave a scar—the ever-staining reminder that these people had a dream to work hard and become who they would be happy with. That truly painful, if only mental, reminder that a dream that gave way to a drive was crushed under the magnitude of your petty, uncalled for cruelty. So while you may consider yourselves above all and mock others for how they look, I find that I can only promise you one thing: no more how someone else looks, you will always be the most disgusting thing out there.
To everyone else: