So why do we make ourselves and others feel bad about not being what someone else thinks is perfect? We cringe when read studies that show that girls as young as 6 are on a diet or are unsatisfied with some part of their body, but we make fun of and comment on a young girl eating an ice cream cone. And it isn’t just girls that are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images. Boys are taught that it takes a “6-pack” to be popular and worthy of love. When did our society stop letting kids play, eat and be happy?
Recently, I have decided to crusade against body shaming in hopes that I might be able to stop just one person from feeling bad about food, eating and/or how he/she looks. My son tells me he has never seen me be so passionate about any cause like this before. Body shaming is defined as inappropriate negative comments and attitudes towards another person's weight or size. The definition doesn’t say a size too fat or too skinny. Our society shames all sizes. And you know what, research shows that fat shaming does not make people lose weight or curb our obesity problem and skinny shaming can lead to an increase in eating disorders.
So I am challenging you to take a stand against body shaming and accept your and everyone’s “perfect” body. We need to focus on health, not looks and be an example for others both young and old. Here are some ways to you can make a difference:
- Break The Gossip Chain-Don’t gossip about others and stop the chain whenever you hear someone talking about another person’s looks.
- Be A Builder, Not A Bully-Body shaming is bullying plain and simple. Do you really want to be a bully or teach your children to be bullies? Be the person who compliments instead of the person who criticizes.
- Celebrate Uniqueness-There is no such thing as the “perfect” body. Each body is unique and should be celebrated. Focus on getting it and keeping healthy.
- Choose Your Friends Wisely-If you associate with body shamers, you will be tempted to join in or worse get a reputation as a body shamer (even if you never open your mouth). Pick a social circle that encourages positive comments and reaches out to people who are struggling.
- Don’t Label Food-If you label a food as bad, you will most likely feel bad when you eat it. But food should be enjoyed not feared and eating should not make you feel bad about yourself. All foods can fit into healthy eating. It’s about moderation and variety.
- Trash The Skinny Jeans-If you are always trying to fit into some “special” pair of jeans, you will never feel good about your body. Dress for the body you have now and don’t focus on the number. Sizes vary from brand to brand and how it looks and makes you feel is what is important.
- Cheer Healthy Habits-You don’t know what a few words of encouragement regarding weight loss can do to a person psyche. If unhealthy methods are being used to lose weight, you might be putting someone’s life in danger. Cheer people on for healthy behaviors, not results.
- Live Your Life-Don’t put off doing things because you feel ashamed of your body. Embrace who you are and how you look and stop caring about what others say. Don’t waste your energy trying to be someone else’s “perfect” and choose to be happy with your “perfect.”
Life is too short to be anything but healthy and happy. Being kind to your body will help you be kind to the bodies of other people. Be as good as it is possible to be, and you will be “perfect.”