Why We Need To Put A Stop To Body Shaming Right Now

Posted: February 4, 2016

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If you are a woman, it is very likely that you have been a target of body shaming – either fat shaming or thin shaming.

Body shaming. It was a new word for me. I recall people being teased when were kids for being too fat ‘mota, dhola, fattie’ and the thin ones sometimes ‘sukad bombil, skeleton’ and similar names. It was the obese ones who were mostly the butt of jokes. Much has not changed rather things have gotten worst with people stooping down a level lower by liberally expressing their views against someone on Facebook and Twitter trolling.

I  recently read an article – a lady who was on the ‘healthier’ side (read plump) visited a upmarket designer boutique in Bombay looking for a lehenga. She choose something but was curtly informed that they do not have that style in her size. She then asked them where to go to buy this particular piece. The store assistant told her to “go to the gym.” She was so stunned and obviously hurt that she was left speechless.

But her friend who was accompanying her could not let this matter pass. He posted this incident on Facebook and also wrote a mail to the owners of the store. He wrote about the lady in question who has medical issues, and how she has been bravely fighting them with a smile on her face. It’s easy for someone to say “lazy bum go to the gym” but the reality behind that obese body might be something else. His post went viral and the store owners responded that the sales rep had been sacked. But I wonder if the woman in question would be able to brush this off as easily.

When I look at almost everyone these days, the trend is gyming, running marathons and watching calories. The buzz in my office and the discussion at breakfast, lunch or coffee is almost always on these topics. I agree that it’s important to take care of one’s health, keep a tab on the food we eat, burn calories, exercise regularly. But what I staunchly disagree is looking down upon people who do not have that perfect figure and doling out free unsolicited advice to people on what their exercise and diet regime should be.

Pregnancy and delivery comes with a lot of hormonal changes and it takes time for the body to recuperate. Also getting back to the gym or exercise may not be easy having a small baby who is dependent on you for almost everything, and top it up with managing the household and a job for many of us. So if we make a conscious decision that we cannot devote time at present to exercise or the gym, it’s perfectly fine. I see people looking at mommies and frowning looking at the bulge on their tummy and thinking “lazy woman why don’t you hit the gym?” Which is completely unfair.

Not just adults even children these days are reeling under the pressure to have the perfect figure and take the perfect selfie. I am gobsmacked when I hear young school going girls talk these days about their tummy bulging out. I remember at that age how carefree we were. We never give a second thought to it. I cannot completely blame them, the environment and social media they are exposed to are only screaming ‘thin is in’.  But again being too thin can sometimes land you into thin shaming.

Sweta Nanda, daughter of Amitabh Bachchan recently shared about how her teenage daughter who is studying in London was body shamed for being too thin. Looks like no one is spared.

It’s high time we put a stop to this. Let us be comfortable in our skin and be proud of our bodies. I do not say get complacent, we should exercise be it by joining a gym or going for a brisk walk or doing the household chores as well by oneself without hiring a help, that works too. But let’s stop body shaming as the harm it causes is immense. Say no to body shaming.

Published earlier here.

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