Body Shaming: The invisible pandemic affecting lives
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Body Shaming: The invisible pandemic affecting lives

Post by on Thursday, July 1, 2021

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There is one sentence that Anam has repeatedly come across in her life, "Aap kuch khate nahi ho kya (Don’t you eat)" and over the years these six words have become a major factor for her depression owing to her skinny body. 
At some point in time, everyone in life goes through a period of depression which profoundly relates to socio-economic struggles. However, body shaming is something that impacts people all their life.
Anam said that she often gets anxiety attacks due to the "humiliation" she faces from her friends, colleagues and family members regarding her thin body.
"People don't realize that even with no bad intentions, if they tell you to start eating well to gain weight, how depressing it becomes for people like me," she said. "People need to understand that I am not thin by choice, it is the medical condition I am suffering from."
Body shaming is the act or practice of humiliating a person based on their body type by making critical or mocking statements about their body shape and size.
Anam said that humiliating a person about their body shape makes a huge dent in the confidence of an individual.
"You feel that you are a misfit in society. People call you different names. And laugh behind your back," she said.
According to an article published in Clarity Clinic, an American based therapists and psychiatrists centre, although body-shaming refers to a person’s physical appearance, it can negatively affect both mental and physical aspects of a person’s life.
"If a person is suffering from being body-shamed it may force them to reconsider who they are and how they present themselves. This can impact their mental well-being, their social health, and their professional lives," it reads.
Dr Arshad Hussain, a leading Psychiatrist in Kashmir, said that  body shaming has devastating effects on the victim as it lowers self-esteem, creates social anxiety, brews loneliness and social isolation leading to depression.
Hussain said that body-shaming is most relevant among young girls and boys in school.
"Recently I counseled two young girls who were bullied in school. They were suffering from depression due to consistent body shaming by their classmates," Hussain said.  
Weight status also influence marriage proposals, thin or obese men and women had the lowest likelihood of finding a perfect match for marriage.
Asiya, who is suffering from obesity, said that life has become "miserable" for him over the years due to his fat body.
"I am finding it so hard to find a match because of my physical appearance. At times I am having suicidal tendencies. Right from my school days, I have been bullied because of body weight," she said.
Asiya said she has now contacted a professional dietician and has joined a gym to lose weight.
"I have seen videos of people losing weight after following a proper diet and exercise. So, it motivated me to consult professionals to work on my body," said Asiya.
Fatima Irshad believes that mental health is very important in decision-making and psychological stress due to body shaming could prove detrimental to one's personality.  
 “It (body shaming) has affected me severely. People used to tell me every now and then that I should work on my body and eat less so that I can be slim so that others will be pleased to see me,” she said.
She said body shaming has also affected her emotional health as it leads to mood swings.
“I get frustrated at times because I am not what I would like to be. I always strive to become someone else and get disappointed in the process because I could never be like them because everyone is different,” Fatima said.
Fatima said, “Body shaming has to stop. We have to redefine the standards of beauty that we have created. We can all be beautiful in our own way and each one of us is unique and gorgeous. We must stop the stigma and start spreading positivity in our society.”
Experts believe if body-shaming is too frequent, it may also lead to anxiety, depression, and social isolation.
"People with anxiety tend to overthink everything, and when it comes to remarks about their bodies, it is no different. Constant negative remarks may make people anxious to the extent that they suffer from panic attacks and depression phases," the experts said.
Mariya Shafiq said that body-shaming is prevalent among family members and friends as well.
“Some might actually body shame the person to get pleasure out of it, whereas family members or loved ones would raise the matter out of concern so that the person will get motivated to lose weight and attain a more desirable body type,” said Mariya.
“We live in a society that values a person who is slim. People who have been body-shamed can lead to a serious mental disorder and I had the worst phase because of that," Mariya said.
Mariya said she used to avoid social gatherings.
“Social gatherings are a blessing in disguise for many but these gatherings always proved fatal for me,” she said.
According to the experts, to overcome body shaming, one can connect to people who promote body positivity. These people can help build up acceptance of one’s body image. Self-love and self-acceptance are also very important. For a person to be positive about their body image, accepting themselves is very important.
A research conducted by the department of mental health and behavioral sciences, Fortis Healthcare has showcased that higher body dissatisfaction is closely linked with a poor quality of life, and the risk of developing psychological distress and unhealthy eating and sleeping disorders.
The survey showcased that among 1,244 women aged between 15 to 45 years across eight Indian cities, 47.5 percent of women reported having experienced body shaming at their school or workplace, and in 32.5 percent of the cases it was their close friend who made negative remarks.


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