Body Shaming: Understanding, Overcoming, and Embracing Your True Self

Body shaming is a harmful practice that can negatively impact self-esteem and mental health. This page explores the concept of body shaming, provides insight on how to overcome it, and encourages self-acceptance and love.

By Mystic Vivan and Payal Dadhich

In today's society, the perception of a perfect body has evolved over centuries, yet the act of body shaming still persists. Body shaming involves making negative unsolicited comments about a person's physical appearance, often implying that certain bodies are better than others. The cultural and societal body-based stereotypes play a significant role in body shaming, which can manifest in various ways. From fat shaming to skinny shaming, body hair shaming to fashion policing, and unsolicited health advice, body shaming can have severe consequences on an individual's mental and physical well-being. In this article, we will delve deeper into the types of body shaming, its effects, and provide practical tips on how to overcome it.


Types of Body Shaming

1. Fat Shaming

For centuries, body weight has been central to the idea of an attractive body. Exceeding societal standards of what is considered an acceptable weight often leads to individuals being labeled as "fat." However, being "fat" does not necessarily mean being overweight in medical terms. Fat shaming involves negatively commenting on a person's body weight, perpetuating distorted ideas of beauty. Veiled compliments such as "Did you lose weight? You look great now!" are covert ways of fat shaming, reinforcing the notion that thinner bodies are more desirable.

Fat Shaming

2. Skinny Shaming

Skinny shaming is the act of shaming someone because their body weight is lesser than the societal norm. While the movement to break the norm of glorifying weight loss has been important, it has led to the misconception that being underweight is synonymous with having anorexia. Remarks like "You're so skinny, you must start eating more" stem from faulty assumptions that being skinny equates to being unhealthy or physically weak.


3. Body Hair Shaming

Body hair shaming is a gendered form of body shaming. Society has categorized body hair into acceptable and unacceptable categories, creating beauty standards that dictate how individuals should groom themselves. While hair on arms and legs is generally acceptable for men, it is often considered unfathomable or even disgusting for women. Subtle comments like "Oh, you must get rid of that hair if you wish to wear that dress" perpetuate body hair shaming based on erroneous hygiene and beauty assumptions.

4. Fashion Policing


Societal norms not only dictate how our bodies should look but also how we need to dress them. Clothing sizes, availability, and access are influenced by societal views on fashion and beauty. Comments like "Oh, this makes you look the perfect size" imply that those whose bodies do not fit the mold are restricted to clothes that aim to cover or enhance certain parts to create an illusion of the perfect body.

Skinny Shaming

5. Unsolicited Health Advice


Exercise and diet are essential aspects of our health and well-being. However, when opinions on what is healthy and beautiful are expressed as unsolicited advice, it becomes a form of body shaming. Recommendations like "You must try this exercise, then you can also have a flat stomach" can trigger body image issues or disordered eating patterns.

Effects of Body Shaming

Constant exposure to body shaming incidents can have various negative effects, particularly on mental health. The following are some of the consequences of body shaming:


1. Developing Body Shame

Constant exposure to body shaming can lead individuals to internalize those beliefs and view their own appearance with shame. This constant negative evaluation of one's body maximizes the difference between society's ideals and self-perception, leading to constant checks on calorie intake, body weight, and undue comparisons with others.

2. Low Self-Esteem


Our bodies play a significant role in our self-esteem. Repeated criticism and negative comments about our appearance can damage our self-perception and result in low self-esteem. This can have a detrimental impact on overall well-being and confidence.

3. Emotional Distress

Body shaming, especially experienced at a younger age, can cause significant emotional distress. Children may develop insecurities and envy towards those who have bodies closer to the perceived perfect body image. It can lead to feelings of hatred or disgust toward their own bodies, impacting their emotional well-being.

4. Eating Disorders

Body shaming can contribute to the development of eating disorders. Constant thoughts about appearance and unrequited attention to calorie intake can lead to disordered eating patterns. Conditions like anorexia and bulimia, characterized by obsessive concern about body weight, can be aggravated by body shaming incidents.

5. Body Dysmorphia

Negative comments about one's appearance can lead to poor body image and extreme anxiety about body shape and physical appearance. This may result in body dysmorphia, a condition characterized by an obsessive focus on perceived flaws and constant preoccupation with one's imperfections.

Skin Shaming

Overcoming Body Shaming: 5 Key Strategies

To challenge and overcome body shaming, it is essential to take proactive steps toward self-acceptance and empowerment. Here are five strategies to help navigate the journey:

1. Educate Yourself about Body Shaming and Body Positivity

Start by educating yourself about body shaming, its subtle manifestations, and how to challenge it. Body positivity is a movement centered around accepting all bodies in their natural state and cultivating self-love. By understanding the concepts of body shaming and body positivity, you can actively combat negative beliefs and promote a more inclusive perspective.

2. Speak Up

Tolerating body shaming around us only perpetuates the problem. Whether it is educating others who engage in body shaming or providing support to individuals who are being body shamed, it is crucial to speak up against this harmful behavior. Express how you feel when someone comments on your body size or type, as this feedback can create awareness of the impact of body shaming.

3. Reframe Negative Thoughts about Your Body

Challenge negative thoughts about your body by reframing them into more positive and healthy perspectives. Instead of fixating on perceived flaws, focus on the strengths and attributes that make you unique. Practice self-compassion and surround yourself with supportive individuals who uplift and motivate you.

4. Take Control of Your Social Media

Social media plays a significant role in promoting unrealistic beauty standards. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and replace them with those that focus on body positivity and acceptance. Remember that you have control over the content you consume and the individuals you engage with on social media.

5. Seek Support

If you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts and feelings about your body or constantly battling body shaming, reach out for support. Speaking with a therapist or utilizing mental health resources like Wysa's self-help tools can provide valuable guidance and help you develop strategies to improve self-esteem and body image.


Body shaming is a pervasive issue that can have detrimental effects on an individual's mental and physical well-being. By understanding the different types of body shaming and its consequences, we can take active steps to challenge and overcome this harmful behavior. Embracing self-love, reframing negative thoughts, and seeking support are essential components of the journey towards body acceptance and empowerment. Let us strive for a society where individuals are celebrated for their unique qualities rather than judged based on societal beauty standards.

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