How people view their own bodies influences both self-attitudes and behavior. Most of the times, outside opinions are a big attribute to this. This is known as "body shaming." Shame is an intense feeling that a person is somehow wrong, flawed, and in need of fixing in order to be loved/accepted.
The intense feelings of body shame can be attributed to the narrow perceptions and expectations that media and culture broadcast. From a young age, females are bombarded with images of unrealistically thin and beautiful women in the media. Often, these images are airbrushed and digitally altered and they give the idea that people have to live up to a computerized version of what women should be. When growing up surrounded by these pictures, teenage girls are indoctrinated with the idea that their attractiveness is the most important asset. This may lead to intense acts of exercise and dieting to try to reach the ideal definition of "beauty."
A big population of Americans experiences slight body image dissatisfaction. Some, even, carry it to extremes in a disorder known as BDD. An individual with BDD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, usually obsesses over a particular body part or feature. They imagine flaws where none exist. Symptoms include excessive looking and touching of the area and extreme mental preoccupation.
One of the biggest ways people with BDD try to control the body is through intense exercise and dieting. Although, a large amount of the time, it is taken to the extreme and becomes unbearable. This is when people start to label themselves as weak and result to even more dangerous ways of getting to the body that they want. Many with BDD turn to cosmetic surgery to fix their supposed imperfections, believing the procedure will drastically change their lives. Some also develop eating disorders.
People who feel ashamed of their bodies often have poorer overall health. It is said that if someone doesn't like their body then they won't take care of it. Also, women who feel ashamed of their bodies often feel ashamed of natural bodily functions. One reason for this is because the extremes people go to when trying to reach the "perfect" image, actually makes them gain weight due to increasing stress levels.
Females are generally more concerned with body image than males. It is said that this all began in the 1920s. During the '50s and '60s, in the U.S., society's stereotypical ideal measurements were a 36-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 36-inch hips. The ideal body gradually became slimmer in the '70s. This trend began when an English model, named Twiggy, became popular. Twiggy was five foot seven and ninety pounds. Women would see Twiggy and wish to achieve her unrealistic look.
Sadly, this problem still exists today.
Most models are of a certain height and weight that is virtually unreachable by the average person. Also, most models face a large amount of body shaming themselves. When doing their work they are usually photo-shopped to some extent. Therefore, when they are seen without editing, they are faced with a large amount of judgment. This goes to show that there is no person who can live up to the idea of the "perfect" women.
Many people make an external appearance a moral question. People who body shame indicate that those that are far from what is viewed as the ideal human should be punished for not dedicating their lives to looking a certain way. They also make assumptions about the person's personality and ways of thinking based on their outer appearance alone. The issue is, the people who are body shaming are often being body shamed themselves. Therefore they are only continuing the cycle.
Body shaming is not tough love nor is it helpful. It is often judgment and pity masquerading as health advice. People who body shame are indicating that those outside of the "right" body is unmotivated and wrong. Their constant comments are often what creates more stress and leads to the more dangerous lengths some go to. Body shaming is not encouragement or concern either. Body shaming perpetuates stereotypes and social division. It draws a line between the worthy and the unworthy. Body shaming ostracizes people based on the ideal image, which is unattainable by most.
No one benefits from thinking or behaving as though our value to each other is so fragile that it can be diminished by weight gain, muscle tone, or any other external feature. Everyone should be accepted for themselves. People should focus on each other's mindsets rather than how someone looks externally.
Body shaming continues to have a negative effect on the lives of people everywhere. Each day, people try to reach the goal of a perfect body just to fail in the end. The way it is presented, you are either too skinny or too fat. There is no middle. As long as people fail to realize this, every day someone new will harm themselves in the effort to reach an unreachable goal. Teenagers are more susceptible to Body shaming because they are at a stage in their lives when their body is changing drastically, which by itself already causes some insecurity. Adding rude comments made by others on top of that makes it hard to not be affected by Body shaming. People need to learn that they are enough. They need to realize that the outside will never be as important as the inside, but, until then, body shaming will continue to be a very big issue in the lives of teenagers everywhere.