In today’s day and age, we are constantly prompted to take in our surroundings and make personal judgements and opinions about them. However, when does this go too far with regards to people and body image? Am I saying that “fat shaming” is a thing? No. But is “body shaming” a thing? Yes.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by someone on Instagram who called me a “whore” because of a photograph I posted. And a few months ago, I was targeted on Facebook by a complete stranger who said I was “falsely advertising” that I was a trainer because of my weight and body shape. But does that make me any of those things? Should I question who I am because of the negativity of others? Absolutely not.
Body shaming can be detrimental to someone’s psyche. If someone is more vulnerable and experiences self-doubt, a hurtful or off-hand comment by a stranger (or even friends or family) has the power to cause immense pain. Some people are ridiculed for being overweight, while others are criticized for being too thin. We all need to be conscious of the differences between us and those around us and how those differences make us unique and special.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we are all in our own “perfect shape”, as many body-positive activists would like us to believe. There is a difference between healthy and unhealthy, and this has nothing to do with how a person looks on the outside. But that doesn’t make it our place to judge how another person chooses to live their life. Instead, we need to approach each other from a place of sensitivity and care.
If a person is overweight, they are more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke, to develop diabetes and high blood pressure, and to experience undue joint pain and injury. And if a person is underweight, they are likely to experience a loss of regular bodily functions, to suffer from broken bones, and to weaken their immune system.
When we look at healthiness through an external image lens, we unfairly judge a person based on what we think people should look like. But when we look at healthiness as it relates to longevity of life (with as little preventable suffering as possible), we prepare our society to live happy lives in unison and support of each other–as cheesy as that may sound.
So the next time you begin to judge someone based on a set of external characteristics, instead consider what they may be struggling with internally, and hope that they find the peace they need to achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle.