Don't underestimate how powerful our words are...
Quite often, with most of us, the things you notice first of all about someone are visual/aesthetic. It’s an inescapable truth. I’d like to talk a bit more some of the assumptions we might make about people’s bodies and the language we use.
Have you heard people talking about body shaming? What is it? If you’ve never heard the term before, it is ‘the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.’ And you may have noticed, it’s all over the internet!
Why do I want to write about it? Because, what can I possibly know about body shaming? As many of you will have noticed, I’m quite a small, petite woman, and why would I feel anything but lucky to be thin? However, these are some of the comments I have received in the past about my body:
· That outfit shows too much of your gym body
· Oh look, the thin person has arrived
· You look far too thin, you need to eat more.
We all have the outspoken friend or family member who makes a joke or offhand ‘observation’ about it, or who thinks they’re ‘complimenting’ you. And, if I was to reverse any of the above comments, substituting the word ‘fat’ for ‘thin’, then quite often we recognise them as more hurtful. The bottom line is, all of those comments are cruel. So cruel. All make a judgement on that person's body, and all of us should be more aware of this; we don’t know how our words will affect that person.
“At the end of the day, the debate should be about health, not appearance.'
I want to see more trust! If we see the people in our lives making positive changes that make themselves feel happier, stronger, healthier, better in themselves, then we should trust that this is in fact the case, instead of making judgements about them. If that means you want to exercise twice a week or 6 times a week, start running, stop running, lose weight, gain weight, stop eating meat, start eating meat etc., then maybe we shouldn’t say ‘you’re crazy, why would you want to do that?’.
At the end of the day, the debate should be about health, not appearance. We all have more than enough to contend with; and we should be building each other up, not judging each other! As we make positive changes to our health, those changes will manifest themselves in our bodies. Who cares if those body changes mean we defy conventional beauty standards? We should be reclaiming words like ‘strong’ and ‘powerful’ – for ourselves and for each other. Let’s shrug off the ‘body shamers’ and tell them they’re wrong. Because what is more attractive than a healthy, confident and empowered person?
Has anyone else has any experience of this, and if so, how did you respond to it? If you did? Back then, I felt I couldn’t, but I absolutely would now!!