Body Shaming is something that is something that a huge number of us have to endure on a regular basis, but rarely makes news headlines. As far as I’m concerned, it is one of the worst forms of bullying, and people who perpetrate it are spreading hurt on a level they probably don’t realise. It’s something that is widespread in the fashion and entertainment industries, as well as everyday life for ordinary girls, boys, women and men. Recently, it was highlighted again by the plight of Sean O Brien.
O Brien is better known by the name Dancing Man, a regular guy from Liverpool who was made to feel humiliated after some people took a picture of him dancing at a party and posted the images to Reddit, where they boasted about laughing at him because of his weight. You can judge yourselves how he felt about their taunts from the pictures.
The picture was captioned; “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”
It is an appalling picture, and one that would move the most cold-hearted person to see how hurt that man clearly felt by the comments. Thankfully, all has worked out for Dancing Man, as a crowd funded internet campaign has raised over $40,000 to send him to LA where celebs and models alike are lining up throw him a party. Not everyone’s story has a happy ending though.
The website Askfm gained notoriety when a number of users, mainly young teens, took their lives after vicious comments posted anonymously were left about them. Needless to say, issues on weight and appearance were top of the list of hurtful things being said. Body shaming is a blow to someone’s confidence, and done in a way that that person my never fully regain it. The image that they see when they look in the mirror is called into question. Their biggest physical flaws highlighted. The very thing that they themselves can feel most embarrassed and ashamed of is put under a spotlight when someone makes a negative comment about someone’s appearance.
The reality is that none of us are perfect. None of us are even close. The same people that shamed Sean O Brien have their own insecurities and would themselves be incredibly hurt if someone were to post them on a forum for the world to see. So why do we do it? The answer is that we don’t consider the impact that it has on the other person.It would be great if we could laugh it off, and put it to the back of our mind, but in reality, negative comments are extremely hurtful and do so much damage to dent a person’s self belief. Body shaming isn’t just confined to overweight people either. Catwalk models are just as vulnerable and people who post comments about someone being too skinny can also be just as harmful. The truth is that everyone, no matter their shape, has something about their appearance they’d probably like to change.
We can all stand to learn a lesson too from people like Amanda Hackey, a bit of a Vine superstar who uploads new videos of herself dancing, singing and generally not giving a shit what anyone else thinks. Amanda knows first hand the effect that bullying based on looks can have, but she fought her own personal demons only to realise that she herself was happy with how she looks, so who cares what anyone else thinks! I know that’s easier said than done for a lot of people, but at least there are people like Amanda in this world reminding us that sometimes the people who have to deal with the most intolerance and cruelty are the ones who come out the other side stronger than ever.
Self confidence is hard to come by. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin and not suffer abuse or ridicule because of their appearance. For those of you experiencing this form of bullying (and make no mistake, passing hurtful remarks based on looks IS bullying), I would urge you to reach out and talk to someone. You’re not alone, there is support and there are plenty of people who love you exactly as you are. We can all strive to have better attitudes towards the people around us and try to understand that everyone is fighting some battle that no one else is aware of. The only way to stamp out body shaming is to be kinder people, especially to those with low self confidence. The simple act of smiling at a stranger or saying hello to someone could do wonders to help them, and costs nothing to give. Why not try and make someone today…it might have a bigger impact than you could possibly know.
(Images courtesy tumblr, reddit, Youtube)