So I was watching my guilty pleasure, “Fashion Police,” and the guest was a “short” 5-foot, 6-inch model who apparently is quite famous and successful. She told a story about being slammed against a wall at a fashion show by another model who demanded to know why, at her diminutive height, she got to open and close the show. In other words, shame on her for being that height in the modeling world.Last week social media was buzzing about the thin Gap model, with commentary about her body. Then came the commentary about the commentary. The initial reactors said shame on her for being so thin, and then the next wave of comments called them out for skinny shaming.It was not so long ago that thin women were often referred to as anorexic—in a critical way totally unrelated to the actual medical and mental health diagnosis. That trend seems to have waned, but in its place is skinny shaming in which women and girls are judged and criticized for naturally thin body types.So, cultural standards (and a variety of other factors) influence women to feel badly about their bodies if they perceive they’re not thin enough. And people make women who are naturally thin feel badly about their bodies with negative comments about their smaller size. Is there anyone left who is allowed to feel good about themselves?Body shaming, like our bodies themselves, comes in many different forms. Why would someone hurt someone else by being judgmental and harsh about their appearance, height, weight, bone structure or something else about their body? I can only think of a few reasons: (1) they are intending to be funny and have no awareness of the impact of their words, (2) they have their own body image concerns and, rather than address those directly, they direct harsh comments toward others to try to make themselves feel better, or (3) they are just behaving badly and acting mean. None of these reasons constitutes an excuse. There are no good reasons for body shaming, and lots of potential harm that can result.How can you hold onto your self-esteem if someone throws body-shaming words at you? Here are some important things to do:
- Recognize that it’s just body shaming for one of the (bad) reasons mentioned above, and it has no connection whatsoever to the reality of you and your body.
- Ignore it. I know it’s difficult, but try really hard. There is no reason to let that other person control even one second of your thoughts and feelings. Keep walking and hold your head up high.
- Focus on what you like about yourself and your body. List at least three things.