“When I turned 8, my paternal Uncle told me during my birthday celebration get-together that my mom must have fed me yak milk as a baby because I was ‘fat’. My mom, who had overheard the conversation, put me on a diet 3 years later. I remember all ingredients of that diet luridly & can’t even imagine eating any of them now”, says Mr. X.
Mr. X knows the sting of body shaming. He has been criticized since his days in elementary school for all of his bodily features ranging from body weight to hair-type, eye-pupil-color, height, body frame, double chin, large-sized ears & orientation of his nose on his face .“It has happened to me my entire life,” says Mr. X, who is now a teenager. There was a point in time when, the lewd comments about his body had started to get to him. “All of a sudden came this perception-altering moment in my life when I thought that whatever they’re saying, all of their condescending-talk: is correct…”- Mr. X said.
“The immediate after-effect is the victim developing an inferiority complex.”-adds Mr. X about body-shaming.
A senior clinical psychologist at Tulasi Healthcare, has shared that: patients as young as ten years of age have approached her with issues pertaining to them having been body shamed. A few patients, after being counseled, have also been referred to psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centres for residential treatment and complete recovery.
A negative self-image can keep a person from participating in activities which the person found pleasurable otherwise and puts the person’s health at risk. The after-effects of carrying this negative self-image everywhere can result in anxiety, nervousness, uneasiness, loss of/increased appetite or even depression.
Mr. X overcame the negative self-image with therapy, many one on one counseling sessions, journaling and talking to a trusted relative-cum-caretaker.
Teenage is a phase in life where a huge part of a personality is actually developed. This is the time when a person’s moral fiber, lifestyle, individuality and perception are formed. This is also the phase during which they may get exposed to quite a few coercions such as body-shaming, as they are vulnerable and young.
High school years encourage teenagers to look attractive all the time. However, some of them being overweight, lean, or wearing spectacles to improve vision, not all of them are appealing.
Audio-visual media, social media, social networking sites/applications, etc. encourage body shaming, contributing to the detrimental representation that is carved in the minds of teenagers these days.
Parents should teach their teens to keep body-shaming and bullying at bay in the following ways:
Parents should never disapprove of their teenager kids for being plump or underweight. Any effort being made by these teenagers to maintain a healthy exercise routine or diet should be admired by the parents.
Parents of teenagers should make their teenager kids understand and come to terms with the sub –par or not-that-good aspects of their bodies and make them feel proud of the same. It is important for the parents to make their teen-aged kids understand no individual is perfect and that every person has his/her own flaws and strengths. The most feasible way forward for every individual is to embrace the flaws unreservedly and carry on with life, not getting affected by external factors such as lewd comments or derogatory remarks made by offenders to drag you down.