Stop Making Jokes About Our Bra Size And Mind Your Business

We need to stop stereotyping women's bodies, and also be more sensitive towards our children who are growing up with terrible self-confidence leading to loneliness and depression.

When Kate Winslet said, “Young women should enjoy their life instead of worrying about how they look,” it stuck a cord with me. I am one of those women who struggle with body image issues in a society heavily influenced by unrealistic beauty standards and societal expectations, and Kate’s statement was empowering.

I grew up listening to unsolicited advice about wearing clothes a size bigger than what I wear; everyone took a free ride to comment about my bra and how big it was. I have spent most of my life loathing how I look—my size, weight, clothes, appearance, skin tone, and hair. This isn’t because I’m not too fond of how I appear, but rather because I’ve been told repeatedly by most trusted people around me that I have one or more flaws.

It is imperative that, as a society, we shed our stereotypical thought not just to support women but also our children who are growing up with terrible self-confidence leading to loneliness and depression. We can significantly impact our mental health and well-being by fostering a culture of compassion, understanding, and empowerment.

How can we do this?

Challenge beauty stereotypes

We must challenge and question the narrow beauty standards that prevail as a society. To do that, we must learn what fat shaming is; here is a good starting point. Encourage conversations that highlight the diversity of beauty and celebrate all body shapes, sizes, and colors.

Promote positive language and encourage self-love

Before you start shooting off unsolicited advice such as, “Why don’t you wear clothes a size bigger than you fit,” to asking, “Why have you gained weight?” learn that words have a powerful impact on how we perceive ourselves, especially when it is coming from our friends and family.

To help us combat body image issues, ask us where we are in our healing journey. While we are working to overcome our need for external validation on the one hand, we nevertheless look for affirmation from our trusted circle of friends and family on the other. If you are among the trusted circle, learn what we have gone through, understand our journey, and check why we wear what we wear. For all you know, we might not find the right clothes for us, or we may not want to wear a size bigger than we want.

Encourage us to focus on our strengths, talents, and inner qualities rather than solely our physical appearance. We will develop a healthier relationship with our bodies by fostering a culture of self-acceptance and love.

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Educate and raise awareness

Education is key to dismantling harmful beliefs and promoting body positivity. “I think, to begin with, educating ourselves that health and body size are not concepts that directly map onto each other. I feel like this is a myth that is so cross-cutting, it’s almost bizarre,” said Abhinaya Sridhar, Senior Program Officer at One Future Collective, a feminist youth-led not-for-profit nurturing radical kindness in people. “And also what might be useful is to research the depths of anti-fat bias itself, which is often rooted in other discriminations such as racism, sexism, among others.”

Organize workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns to educate people about the harmful effects of body shaming and the importance of embracing diverse body types. By sharing knowledge and challenging societal norms, we can help women develop a more positive body image and create a more inclusive society.

Support networks and communities

Creating safe spaces and support networks where we can openly discuss our body image concerns will go a long way in helping us. “I know of such online spaces and support groups where fat folks navigate their healing journeys together, although they are far and few. We at OFC, too ran a series of healing circles specifically for “fat” folks,” said Abhinaya.

Besides OFC, Spurthi Kolipaka, a PhD researcher at Leeds University in UK, runs Instagram space called BodyLogue, where she gathers with a few friends to discuss what body shaming means to them and how they try to overcome it. By fostering a sense of community, we remind ourselves that we are not alone in our journey toward body positivity.

Encourage media representation

Advocating for diverse and inclusive representation in the media, supporting and promoting media outlets that portray women of all sizes, shapes, and backgrounds in a positive and empowering light will help us develop a healthy relationship with our bodies. For Instance, Natalie Pote is running an online campaign to ask HealthifyMe to Run a campaign to replace the #FatToFit stereotype with #EveryBodyMatters

Supporting women with body image issues requires a collective effort from society. By challenging beauty stereotypes, promoting positive language, educating others, fostering support networks, and advocating for inclusive media representation, we can create a more accepting and supportive environment for us. Let us empower women to embrace our bodies, celebrate our uniqueness, and develop a positive body image. Together, we can shape a society where we feel confident, valued, and beautiful, regardless of societal expectations.

Image source: a still from the film Gippi

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About the Author

Shilpashree Jagannathan

I am a journalist from India. I now live in Toronto and have worked as a business reporter for leading newspapers in India. I have tracked telecom, infrastructure, and real estate news developments and have read more...

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