Stop Body Shaming - Random Thoughts - Naba (2024)

Have you ever been body shamed? If you are a girl, chances are that you have been at one point in your life or the other. Chances are you have been subjected to body shaming without you even realizing so. And yes, even ordinary women like you and me are body shamed, not just celebrities. And I think it’s high time to stop body-shaming, don’t you?

Body shaming starts right from the time a girl is born!

Every girl out there will have a story of her own about body shaming. Every girl.

There was once a little girl standing on the school playground with her friends. They were talking about the upcoming fete, about the latest music releases and all things that little girls usually talk about. It was a sunny wintery morning. This little girl, let’s call her Body, was happy when suddenly one of her classmates in that circle of girls, let’s call this one Shamy, reached out to touch her tummy. It surprised Body and she looked on unable to speak when Shamy went ahead to make fun of her for a not so flat stomach. That right there was her first encounter with Body Shaming. That right there was a microcosm of the society she was growing up in. That little girl was me.

Do you know what’s horrifying about this? I’ll tell you. The fact that one little girl felt the need to poke fun at her friend’s body. This means this tendency to body shame enters into our psyche quite early on. And no matter how I try to justify this, it makes no sense.

A few years down the line when I was not such a little girl anymore, I was asked how do I even manage with my crooked front teeth. Am I not sad or humiliated because I don’t have a perfect set of teeth? Of course, I must have a very thick hide, for I never took my looks too seriously. Moreover, I never once had tooth problems so why would I care. But not everyone remains unaffected. Women get stirred right, left and centre by remarks on how they look because somewhere along the line how a woman appears has been linked to her success and progress.

Deep down it is about how women are expected to behave and obey as Nomi Wolf puts in her book ‘The Beauty Myth‘. Deep down it’s about control and holding on to the superior position in society that men enjoy. And the sad part is women actively help to propagate this.

You can’t put on weight. You can’t have a bulging tummy. If you are without khol one day, you must be sick. You need to shed the pregnancy weight as soon as the baby is out. You are made to wear sarees during client visits because no matter how qualified and experienced you are, you are the official decorative piece in the boardroom. I have always wondered why men in Indian offices are not asked to wear dhotis and kurtas during client visits because isn’t that their Indian attire?

And need I tell you what happens in the arranged marriage market? Women are made to walk to see if there is any birth defect. Their skin tone becomes a criterion for selection. It happens with men too, this scrutiny during the marriage fixing charade, but a man with a dark skin tone is handsome while a woman not. Why?

#Women are, more often than not, treated as the official decorative piece in the boardroom during client visits. #BodyShaming Click To Tweet

We could have seen men through the same lenses which hold women accountable to ridiculous beauty standards but at the end of the day and when it’s really crucial we don’t. But we are rarely offered the same courtesy, are we?

“A man is unlikely to be brought within earshot of women as they judge men’s appearance, height, muscle tone, sexual technique, penis size, personal grooming, or taste in clothes–all of which we do. The fact is that women are able to view men just as men view women, as objects for sexual and aesthetic evaluation; we too are effortlessly able to choose the male “ideal” from a lineup and if we could have male beauty as well as everything else, most of us would not say no. But so what? Given all that, women make the choice, by and large, to take men as human beings first.”

― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

My sister, every time she goes home, has always been subjected to comments by aunties as to how her skin tone has become a shade darker since her last visit. Of course, my mom and I have made her so strong that she now just rebuffs them or casually remarks that that’s the skin, and a beautiful one at that, which she has been born with. She loves herself and how she is. I wish every woman did that. I wish every woman loved herself first and took care of her body. Fat or thin, fair or dark, every woman must look, feel and appear just how she wants to and not conform to some beauty standard. Conforming to health standards is what’s needed but not what magazines or movies lead you to believe.

“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.”

― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

A few years ago Aishwarya Rai was body-shamed because of the weight she put on during her pregnancy. Imagine, having to give birth to a new life putting our lives in danger and having to come back to reading articles which mock you for how you look. Sometimes I feel celebrities have it worse. But then ordinary women like you and I are not spared either, are we?

“The Victorian woman became her ovaries, as today’s woman has become her “beauty.”

― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

I know I’m quoting a lot from the Beauty Myth but the book is such that you will be compelled to.

I’m reminded of Jennifer Anniston’s quote in one article “In my own brain, I’ve shifted my perspective, so who gives a sh*t! If you’re going to walk out and have your nipples showing, or your belly is a little bloated, or you’re not at the weight you want to be — you are perfect no matter what you are and no matter where you are and who cares!” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Conforming to health standards is what's needed but not what magazines or movies lead you to believe. #BodyShaming #BodyImage Click To Tweet

We are perfect no matter which shape, size or colour we are in as long as we are comfortable in our own skin. Healthy is beautiful. Confident is beautiful. Clothes or makeup shouldn’t figure in the factors affecting how we feel about ourselves.

It shouldn’t matter what anyone says to us. It shouldn’t bother us when someone points out that our tummy is showing. It shouldn’t bother us when someone tells us we don’t look good today or that our hair is not set properly. It doesn’t matter that we are not a size zero. We need to take those glossy magazines out of our minds.

Healthy is beautiful. Confident is beautiful.

Body shaming should stop. I don’t want my daughter or her friends growing up believing in a photoshopped reality or thinking they are any less if they don’t meet some beauty standards or don’t fit into the definition of beauty of society.

Hence, let’s stop body shaming people. Let’s stop body shaming ourselves! Let each one of us resolve that we will not make fun of our friend if she puts on a little weight as long as she is happy and healthy.

Are you with me?

Stop Body Shaming - Random Thoughts - Naba (1)

Picture Credit | Robert Przybysz via Shutterstock


Stop Body Shaming - Random Thoughts - Naba (2)

This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called#IAmAFeministseries) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.

Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.

Stop Body Shaming - Random Thoughts - Naba (2024)
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