Jack McCann looks at how celebrity culture, the pressure to have 'the perfect body' and body shaming can negatively impact on the general public.
Body shaming as defined by bodyshaming.org is, "inappropriate negative statements and attitudes toward another person's weight or size."
Body shaming is a form of bullying and can do so much harm to a person’s both short-term and long-term confidence.
Body shaming occurs in three main ways; criticising yourself, criticising someone in front of them, and lastly, criticising someone else behind their back.
However with social media and the Internet, new ways are being used every day.
Body shaming can occur at any time, no matter your age. However, the main age group affected are teenagers, young adults/students and 30 somethings.
According to thebodyimagecenter.com, 30 million people will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.
With the clear emergence of a ‘celebrity culture’ in the past few years, every girl wants to be wafer thin and every boy wants to be ripped like the Rock, and in both cases, the person will want to be well endowed in all the right areas too.
Obviously, before people start shouting the house down, these are the broad stereotypes that everybody will have been faced with at some point.
Whether you see an ad on TV, like the Victoria Secret ‘perfect body’ ad (that did get removed after a petition), a billboard on the side of the road, at a bus stop or on a website that you are looking at stating, "I lost 30 pounds in one week with this secret, so can you."
Due to the 24/7 presence of the media and social media, everybody, both young and old, is bombarded with ways or ‘methods’ of getting that summer body you’ve always wanted.
‘Celebrities’ like Kim Kardashian don’t help matters. As they feel the need to be in the public eye as often as possible, everybody may feel pressured into fitting the society mould for the ‘perfect body’.
Social media is an issue when it comes to body shaming, as people have instant access to a celeb’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
People see images and videos of the 'perfect body' and already people are being set-up to be self-critical of their own bodies, male and female, because of the unrealistic standards of what is considered ‘normal’ by some people.
As mentioned before, the consequences of body shaming can lead to more than just making headlines on gossip sites and magazines. Eating disorders and sometimes death are some of the serious problems that can arise from someone affected by body-shaming over a short and long period of time.
The category of eating disorders can include, but is not limited to, anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, avoidant/restrictive food intake (ARFID) and other specified feeling or eating disorder (OSFED) [before 2013 was known as eating disorder not otherwise specified].
Being affected by something like this can lead, and has, to death. I know I’ve mentioned that fact more than once, however, it is important to state.
According to bodyimagecenter.com, "About 1,000 women die each year from eating disorders due to malnutrition, heart attack and suicide", that only counts half the amount and is only for the USA, therefore the number could be, and unfortunately may be, a lot higher.
It could be your mother, sister, brother, father, family member, friend. It could be you. Next time you hear someone have a go at someone for their body, in anyway, think about the potential damage it will do to that person’s confidence, self belief, etc.
It is never just banter, as I know from personal experience. Having been body shamed myself whilst in secondary school for the best part of two years.
I’ve always been a big lad, except the lads who felt the need to make a point of it by insulting me on a very regular basis for first and second year. I had my theories as to why they did it, but never fully understood at all.
Did I tell anybody at the time? No. The only people to know I was bullied at all were my best mate and my English teacher who figured it out to an extent.
I didn’t tell anybody, mainly because I did not want to make my situation worse, but also because ‘body-shaming’ was not so well defined at the time.
I just had it under the umbrella term of bullying. Would knowing what body-shaming was at the time have made a difference? Maybe.
To this day, I’m still rather large, too large I think at times. However, looking at somebody just on the outside is such a narrow and sad way to look at the world.
Thinking they don’t fit because they don’t fit ‘society norms’ is awful. Maybe ‘society norms’ need to adapt to people rather than the other way round.
There are 7 billion people in the world, only a minority will fit ‘society norms’. I’d rather know the majority than try fit in with the minority.