A lot of body shaming is disguised as unsolicited advice and comments.
‘Hey, you look too skinny!’
‘Look at her. She is so dark.
’‘Looking at you, it does not seem you are so and so old’.
‘You should go on a diet.’
Most of the time such statements are off the cuff and innocuous. They are made in jest in conversations, or out of concern. Alongside it, there are instances where people are deliberately shamed. The former is subtle, and the latter is vicious. Both contribute to creating an unhealthy view of an individual within their own mental space.
Acceptance is a difficult proposition to the victims of body shaming. Insecure about themselves, they search for normalcy in external behavior patterns, physical structure and body language of strangers. Later in solitude they stand in front of mirrors and project their insecurities on to the observed behaviors and body language. And find themselves inadequate.
Where does this inadequacy stem from?
Society rewards conformity to existing social standards. It is the ideal they consider to be acceptable. Body shaming revolves the standards society puts on a pedestal with regards to shape, size, beauty and colour.
This is propagated and reinforced within society through popular culture. The stereotypes reflected on television, cinema and other mass mediums make it acceptable and popular. People seeing their icons cultivate the attitudes and the assurance provides them with the validation.
Hindi and regional language television programs like ‘Bidhaai’ in the name of trying to address issues exacerbate the problem the way they handle it. Thus, the outcome they achieve is the opposite of the intent behind the program.
This confirmed identity and body shaming individuals who do not meet these standards has spawned the multimillion-dollar beauty and fitness industries. They clutch on to the services and products offered by these industries to make them feel better about themselves.
Inspired by the pop-culture of the day, males and females try to reach the aspired beauty and physical standards that are propagated through media. There are examples of people who have taken extreme measures to attain the set standards.
Men today are looking to bulk up and resemble a Hrithik Roshan or a John Abraham. Six-pack is the order of the day. For the women, they have to be slim and beautiful. The fad for a zero figure began post Kareena Kapoor Khan tried it for her movie Tashan.
The victims of body shaming trying to overcome their issue through conformity often fall prey to their method. To compensate for their perceived shortcomings, they go to extreme measures. It results in creating more problems that can at times be disastrous.
A prominent example is that of Iranian social media influencer, Sahar Tabar. She tried to alter her looks to look like Angelina Jolie. The cosmetic operation did not pan out the way she wanted it to. As a result she is today dubbed as ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’.
A few people, though, manage to break out of the cycle to begin the journey to acceptance. They accept they are just as special and unique as the next person. It is not an easy journey for a person has been shamed and abused for their looks. Feeling comfortable in their own skin is a luxury few people enjoy.
Tall, short, fat, slim, fair, dusky. These are all labels given by the society. The only way to address is to adopt the policy of ‘live and let live’
~ Vijay Hardik