Tips to overcome fat-shaming and a negative body image
Body image is the personal relationship that we have with our body - our perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions pertaining to our outward appearance. Having a negative body image can affect our mental/physical health and relationships with others. Here are tips to overcome it
Today we live in an “image-based society” where we constantly look at our own images on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, during video calls, on webinars, professional websites and the list is unending with a lot of pressure to look good and body image is everywhere. Lack of perfection in any way, sometimes leads to heartless trolling not only online but also offline.
Body image is the image of our body that we see in our mind and many of us actually feel that our body is bigger than it actually is. Body image is the personal relationship that we have with our body - our perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions pertaining to our physical or outward appearance.
Having a negative body image can affect our mental as well as physical health adversely and can also affect our relationships with others in a negative manner. People with a negative body image tend to avoid looking at themselves in a mirror, may avoid wearing certain kind of clothes as they do not feel confident or they try to cover or hide a certain body part.
Some people tend to have a one-sided relationship with their body and relentlessly push their body past its limits without listening to its signals pertaining to hunger or pain. Some even starve themselves for prolonged periods or exercise to the extent of injuring themselves.
Given that fat shaming is inherent in many cultures, Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, Consultant Bariatric and Laparosocpic Surgeon at Saifee, Namaha, Apollo Spectra and Currae Specialty Hospitals, shared, “It may start very close to home where parents may constantly pester their daughters and sons to look in a particular way. People with obesity or those who are overweight are at the receiving end of a lot of derogatory comments and unsolicited weight loss advice from their friends, family and colleagues.”
She added, “Fat shaming is also indirectly fostered by our movies that equate beauty with being ultra-thin and size zero figures. Most clothing brands also tow the same line and fail to focus on body diversity. Today we live in a world which has created an image of an ideal body and anyone who does not fit in, tends to get body shamed. Those who are fat-shamed tend to have poor self-esteem, high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and may even foster suicidal thoughts at times.”
She revealed some tips to overcome fat-shaming and a negative body image:
· Fake it until you make it - Sometimes one is uncomfortable about wearing certain kind of clothes. Wear them anyway. At first, you may feel awkward but gradually you will get accustomed to seeing yourself that way and eventually so will other people.
· Use positive affirmations - Remind yourself that you are worthy of being loved for who you are as a person and not only for what you look like.
· Let go - Let go of perfectionism. Even the moon is full of blemishes. Colour of your skin, height, weight etc must not be given overdue importance. They are a part of you. Embrace them. Nobody is perfect and that is normal.
· Indulge in self-care - Do it for yourself, not to please others.
· Let go of ideals - Most people tend to have ideals however, we need to accept that not everyone can be size-zero and even those who can be, cannot maintain it forever.
· Do not indulge in negative communication - Focus on conversation other than weight and appearance. When you meet people do not start with a comment on their external appearance. “How have you been?” is nicer than, “Oh you have lost weight, or you have gained weight”.
· Learn to accept compliments graciously - When someone compliments you, do not go on a spree of how many things are wrong with you. Learn to close the conversation by saying a simple, thank you.
· Remind yourself of your worth - Positive affirmations are very important. Remind yourself every night about all the constructive things you accomplished during the day. In the morning make a list of all the positive tasks that you intend to do in the day.