School is over and the need to keep track of what day of the week it is has faded away. The sun is beaming. Jeans and sweaters are put away, while shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits are taken out. People will start wearing less and stretch marks, scars and extra weight will no longer be hidden.
Every body type deserves to be comfortable. It is now hotter and yes, people will show more skin. This does not mean you should comment or shame on the way people’s bodies look. Often, we put down other people’s bodies to make us feel better. People who body shame are often insecure about their own body.
Body shaming is the criticism of someone based on the shape, size or appearance of their body. An easy guide to whether or not a comment is body shaming is to ask yourself “can it be fixed in 5 seconds?” For example, lipstick on teeth or an unzipped fly can be fixed within seconds and most people would be thankful to have those things pointed out. However, comments that refer to a person’s body can be harmful.
Keep in mind that just because someone’s body appears to be “unhealthy”— specifically, underweight or overweight — you do not have to point it out. It is their body, so chances are they are already aware. Another important fact is that weight is not 100% determined by what people consume or whether they exercise. Genetics and medical conditions can also affect people’s weight.
Summer is also the time where women specifically are pressured to look their best. Model Alexis Ren captioned her recent Instagram photo “The industry would collapse if we all felt good enough for ourselves.” This really resonated with me because it is so blatantly true, yet we choose to ignore it. Companies like FitTea and Sugar Bear Hair vitamins are based on women’s desire to look better, would go out of business if people were content with themselves. Messages from the media and from each other often imply that we should want to change, that we should care about looking slimmer, smaller and tanner. And if we don’t, we worry that we are at risk of being the target of someone else’s body-shaming comments.
Many companies rely on our desire to appear better to sell their products. Just look at the models that companies use to represent their products. By shaping a stereotypical “desirable” person with traits hard to achieve like a skinny figure, symmetrical face and clear skin, customers fall into a never-ending chase to look that way. Therefore, making us unhappy with our bodies.
Companies’ harmful self-hatee” marketing technique has seeped its way into our social behavior. We all have that one friend who we find absolutely beautiful, yet we still hear them talk negatively about their body. It almost sounds selfish or stupid hearing someone who is commercially pretty saying they don’t look good. However, self-hating for women has strangely become a normal topic of conversation. When bonding, girls often comment or admit what they find wrong with their bodies. The film Mean Girls has a scene where the main characters are all looking in the mirror, criticizing their bodies. Regina George says “my pores are huge” and Gretchen Wieners says “Oh, please I hate my calves.” It feels as if it is a crime to like yourself as a woman and the only form of self assurance you have is what other people say.
It’s okay to want to look like what society considers pretty by doing things like wearing makeup, and nice clothes. Personally, I find myself most comfortable with makeup on. However, no one should feel that they need to change to be accepted or to not be body shamed.
As long as we’re healthy… to each their own.
Forget what the companies tell you. Forget people who tell you why and how to change. If you are healthy, or working on becoming healthy, that is all that matters. This summer, wear that shirt you have always wanted to wear but have been to scared to. Compliment people who you admire. Tell that girl or guy that you like their outfit. Summer 2018 and the rest of your life, do and wear the things that make you feel confident.