By Liliosa Chiwaura
Slender or thick it’s just best if we can appreciate people the way they are. They are already struggling enough to accept themselves as they are don’t add to the stress. It’s already plateful to accept who they are. Avoid telling them to eat a little bit more so that they can have more ‘flesh’ or even to reduced their portions so that they can be perfect.
There is genetics that can account for a person being overweight or underweight. They have to deal with not finding the right size of clothes in the shops being told we only have a limited number in that range, you need to make a special order for those sizes. Majority end up thrifting clothes not because they don’t have the money but that’s where they are accommodated……sista mirai ndikusotei imimi ndine kanyama last kanokufitai manje (my sister let me show you some of the best pieces I have that you will definitely like).
You will smile at them and wait for them to outdo themselves just to make you happy. The disaster with the words that will be thrown at you is that you might end up believing them and seeing yourself as if you are not good enough for anyone including yourself. The moment you believe that you are not good enough you even seize to believe in yourself and you end up body shaming yourself.
Body-shaming – criticizing yourself or others because of some aspect of physical appearance, can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and criticism.
Body-shaming manifests in many ways:
1) Criticizing your own appearance, through a judgment or comparison to another person
2) Criticizing another’s appearance in front of them,
3) Criticizing another’s appearance without their knowledge.
There are 3 ways in which body shaming can affect our mental health:
1. It can lead to depression
The most common mental health concern currently is depression and body shaming is one of the leading causes of depression, especially in the younger demographic.
2. Eating disorders are another setback
Body shaming someone for their weight increases their risk of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. Body-shaming is a major psychological block in maintaining a healthy weight.
3. Anxiety and lack of confidence is a common symptom
Long-term body shaming can cause a person to feel sorry about themselves, which undermines their confidence. They isolate themselves socially or completely because they believe they are undeserving of happiness and respect. These persons might have panic attacks and other major anxiety problems if they are not addressed in a timely manner. As a result of their inability to perform effectively in their careers owing to ongoing anxiety and self-doubt, this may also negatively affect their socioeconomic position.
TURING BODY SHAMING INTO BODY POSITIVITY
The first steps to protecting yourself from body shaming are to stop body-shaming yourself and develop self-compassion.
Don’t hide or isolate yourself from others.
Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, as you would a best friend.
Exercise, eat healthy food, enjoy the company of people who care about you, and spend some time outdoors to refresh your body and your mind
Manage stress. Experiencing body shaming can be extremely stressful. Relaxation techniques such as exercise, meditation, and deep breathing exercises are all good ways to build resilience and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by negative experiences.
REPLACE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
While you can’t control what others say about you, you do have the power to focus on the positive aspects of yourself, rather than dwelling on any perceived flaws. Replacing negative self-talk with positive thoughts and affirmations can be useful for making you feel better about yourself and your body.
Shift your focus to the things that you like about yourself. For example, if you have beautiful hair or eyes, this is just as important as the features you dislike or that others try to ridicule.
Instead of repeating negative messages, accept yourself without criticism.
Be proud of your individuality.
MANAGE YOUR TIME SPENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Overusing social media can encourage incorrect self-perceptions, increase anxiety, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction, as well as expose you to body shaming and cyber bullying. One can consider the following:-
Physical interaction. Face-to-face communication is the natural stress reliever and can be much more satisfying than texting or chatting.
Physical activities like walking, running, swimming, dancing, and other active leisure activities. Being active can make you feel more self-assured, confident, and successful while also improving your general health and well-being.
Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or journaling are all effective ways to practice mindfulness.
REACH OUT TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST FOR GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT.
There is no reason why you have to battle the body shaming on your alone, even if you might feel uncomfortable about confiding in someone about it. By letting people know what you are going through, ask for advice and support from others. Finding someone you can share your feelings with and who you can trust is essential. The discomfort and embarrassment of being body shamed may be managed by having a safe place to express your emotions.
HELP A LOVED ONE WITH BODY SHAMING
Your empathy and comprehension may be quite helpful if a friend or loved one is experiencing body shaming from others.
Tell them how much you value them and how worried you are about them. You can say, “I am concerned that you constantly bring up your weight,” or “I feel sad when you make derogatory remarks about how you look.”
Remain calm and pay attention to their worries. Ask how you may best help your loved one rather than assuming to know what they need. They could only need someone to lend them a shoulder and listen to their troubles without passing judgment.
Try to divert attention from your loved one’s physical attributes to anything else you value in them. For example, you can remind them about their wonderful sense of humor, how smart they are, their adventurous spirit, or highlight a particular talent they have.
Liliosa Tatenda Chiurawa is a mental health peer educator and can be contacted on +263719037352, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check her Facebook page for more posts – Mental Health Talk with Lilly