There is a story my mum often tells. She says that when I was a baby, I was very fat. I had round chubby cheeks, with rolls on my neck, thighs, and hands. Our neighbours and my mum’s colleagues decided it was more than baby fat.
“She is a girl,” they told my mum
“You better watch her weight now that she is still a baby”
They even advised my mum to reduce my food or give me only water to drink until I shed the fat. My mum was confused, she didn’t want me to grow in a society where people would treat me terribly for being fat and blame her for not “watching” my weight. She took me to a doctor who promptly dismissed those concerns and encouraged her to feed me properly because babies need good food to develop their brains and motor skills.
A few years later, I became very skinny, and it was those same neighbours and friends who started hounding my mum: “Are you feeding this child at all? Why is she so thin?”
The thing is, our culture of body shaming women dates back to pre-adolescence. And people who are guilty of body shaming are always quick to say, “It’s because I care about the person,” or “I was only pointing out the fact” etc. Evidence has shown that body-shaming deeply affects people, especially women and most of the victims end of taking their life. If you really care about people here are some ways to help without body shaming
The media has promoted certain images as perfect and others as bad. The truth is we all can’t look like models or film celebrities; we were created differently. Factors such as genetics, medications and even a family’s financial situation can affect body weight. Remember that skinny always doesn’t mean healthy and fat doesn’t always mean unhealthy.
Be genuinely helpful
A few years ago, one of my friends who I thought was averagely built went on a low carb and veggies diet. I was worried, “why are you on a diet?” I asked her and that was when she told me her sister was struggling with weight and to help her, she joined her sister’s diet. That way your concern for their health care goes beyond verbal criticism. You should still be careful because even genuine concern can still be toxic and a kind of shaming.
Mind your business
This is very important. How does it concern you if someone is fat or thin? Does their body shape affect the cost of your rent or food? Why do you even think people have to look a certain way? Focus on your own life. Floss your teeth.
I learnt a long time ago that if you have nothing nice to say about a person, shut your mouth. For people who really can’t help but make comments on a person’s appearance, try to look for something nice to say. You can complement their hair, clothes, shoes, smiles, skin etc. If you can’t find anything nice to say, shut your mouth, it won’t kill you.