February 5, 2020
What other people say about you is very impactful. Particularly when you are naturally inclined to believe what other people think about you. Add in unrealistic media images, unnatural fashion trends, and other life experiences that send messages to you about what you should look like, and seemingly simple words and thoughts and images can lead to severe emotional trauma. Depression and serious mental health disorders can develop as well, leading to serious physical and mental harm, even death. Body shaming is not just words or pictures, it is real and it is dangerous.
American culture is obsessed with looks. While there are different body trends over time, we as a society compare ourselves to models, actors, musicians, and other celebrities. They are people who are the exception to the norm and have won the genetic lottery. They also have full crews of personal trainers, makeup artists, personal stylists, and more. You see them at their best, plus favorable camera angles and lighting in a carefully crafted but fake world. Then we buy their movies, music, magazines, follow their social media accounts, etc. and worship them as idols. In this way, our society elevates them to create a standard that few can even approach in terms of looks and body type.
With the advent of social media, everyone has an opportunity to emulate this perfected imagery by posting carefully crafted images of themselves doing perfect things with other perfect people, even if for the other 23 hours and 59 minutes a day, they are nothing like that. They create even more expectations for you to look and be perfect, highlighting their strengths and carefully hiding their flaws. When you look at your Instagram account, then look in the mirror after you just got out of bed, and have poor lighting, you are reinforcing the ideas that you are less than or worse.
Alone in Your Head
It is human nature to criticize yourself, especially what you look like. Your mirrors become like those warped circus mirrors, distorting and exaggerating everything from your size and shape to any and every perceived body flaw. Whether it is genetic, a result of chemicals in the brain, or the result of some traumatic events or even a combination of things, this hyper-reflection on what we look like impacts some much more intensely than others.
Why Words Matter
Now imagine that you are one of those people who are already in a deficit when it comes to self-confidence about your body and looks. Then you hear other people saying hurtful, shameful words about what you look like. Or maybe you are bullied on social media. Whether intentionally meant to bully and harm, or accidentally overheard, these words validate the negative self-images you have worked so hard to cultivate in your head. Like the perfect storm, something changes in your brain, and now you are actually in psychological and possibly even physical danger.
When Shame Turns Dangerous
Body shaming propagates low self-esteem, which often leads to depression. Additionally, because body-shaming is based on self-image, people develop eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, purging disorder or night eating syndrome. All of these disorders can be very dangerous to your physical and mental health and require medical or therapeutic intervention.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is another condition that can result from body shaming. It is a condition where you become hyper-focused on one or more perceived body flaws to the point that you avoid social situations or worse. BDD can lead to social isolation, impact job or school performances, cause you to seek unnecessary cosmetic procedures and surgeries, or even become suicidal.
Healing from Shame
However you may have been affected by body shaming, you can heal. Finding treatment for depression, eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and even BDD can help restore you mentally and physically. There are medical and therapeutic protocols to help you take your life back. You can learn to accept yourself exactly as you are, learn not to compare yourself to unrealistic ideals. Most people have no idea how beautiful they are, inside and out, and when you do realize that you have your own beauty, as unique as your heart, then other people notice your beauty, too. You are perfect, just the way you are, and you deserve to be happy.
You can stand up to body shaming, too, and teach others to take a stand. Attempted bullying does not work if you do not believe the words. You can report body shaming and another bullying on social media by reporting it as inappropriate content. You can make a difference in other people’s lives, raise awareness of what body shaming is and how harmful it can be, and create a better world for future generations, where body-shaming is no longer a thing.
Whether your body-shaming is entirely internal or if it comes from external sources, too, you can overcome the challenges you are struggling with. Even if you have a mental health condition because of your body image concerns, you can get your mind and body back and be healthy and confident. If you feel like you are too depressed or your eating disorder is too extreme, they are not. There is always hope. You can overcome this. You can turn this weakness into a strength. You are beautiful and you are powerful. And you are worth it.
Body shaming is real and devastating. But you can heal and become healthy and confident. Call Potomac Programs 1-855-809-0409 today.