What is body shaming? Where do we see it? Why does it happen?

81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. Of the American elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their idea of the ideal body shape, and 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.

We do not decide to hate our bodies, but rather we are we are taught to. Children run around not worrying about their looks, their outfits, their hair, or their bodies. On the other hand, we rarely hear grown women talking positively about their body. We can’t have too much fat, but we can’t be too skinny; we can’t be too short, but we also can’t be too tall. 

So where exactly did all this come from? 

Many girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls, which are a false representation of a healthy body. Her 16-inch waist would also be four inches thinner than her head, leaving room for only half a liver and a few inches of intestine. There are photo editing apps for people to make themselves thinner, more muscular, or air brushed. A true picture of us is not good enough. Our hair needs to be blonder and we need whiter teeth, a larger chest, and a smaller waist.

Girls and boys and men and women use unhealthy methods to try to obtain their ideal body, including but not limited to starving, using appetite suppressants, steroids, plastic surgery, and binging. People are obsessed with what they eat. Though one might not be harming their body physically, but mentally they are not happy. Orthorexia nervosa is not recognized as a clinical disorder, but it is something many struggle with. It is defined as “the fixation on righteous eating”. This unhealthy obsession can negatively impact other hobbies, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous. This appears in many people who have the desire to be thin. 

How different would the world be if our eyes never judged someone’s looks, but their heart instead? We naturally walk in public comparing our bodies to others. We naturally desire to look like those models wearing our favorite brands or popular celebrities we look up to. Commercials are always marketing low sugar, low carb, low fat, and low calorie products, suggesting the audience members restrict their diets. 

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You could be nicer to your body. Instead of letting your brain tell you to compare your body to others’, you can decide to love the way your body looks. Rather than letting your mind say you need to eat foods because the commercials say they’ll make you look better, you can choose to eat what makes you feel good. 

No diet will make anyone happy, but confidence will. Love who you are, and let yourself grow. The first step to success is to love yourself and to be confident.

Healthy looks different on everyone. It is not just about your outside appearance, but to be healthy, one’s mind, body, and spirit must all be healthy. 

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