It has become almost impossible for individuals to converse, whether face-to-face or on a social media platform, without passing on negative remarks about someone’s physical appearance.

The topic of conversation often whirls around what the “perfect” body should look like. Some people discuss this subject with full awareness, while others unintentionally dig too deep into the matter. Some offer advice, oblivious to the fact that they are actually victimizing overweight individuals and contributing to an inferiority complex.

Several beauty standards have been set by society, from size-zero models showcasing attire for a brand, to celebrities starving themselves for the “ideal” figure. In this process of representing a visual appearance which is appealing to the eyes, the ones who are slightly on the bulkier side are fat shamed.

The reality of fat shaming

“Fat shaming” is a phrase used to ridicule a person due to their body size or weight. Unfortunately, fat shaming is a common issue in numerous corners of the globe. During several occasions, people label fat shaming as a way to help overweight individuals get into shape by claiming that fat shaming will motivate overweight individuals to take responsibility for their health.

When the issue regarding overweight or obese individuals is pondered, plus-sized models often have to endure criticism, and are accused of glorifying being overweight. Sadly, a lot of people are unable to distinguish between accepting a certain type of body and praising it. It takes minimal effort to throw around comments on someone’s body type, but we often forget that we are no one to judge, especially because we have not walked in another’s shoes.

Three individuals pose at the 2008 Pride Parade for a photo titled “Fat Power.” (Photo by jooleeah_stahkey)

Due to the body type that has been portrayed as idealistic by society, it has become difficult for individuals to feel comfortable in their own skin. Fat shaming can shatter the confidence of many and do the exact opposite of what it claims – that is, to motivate people. In fact, some researchers have concluded that, “fat shaming in any shape or form causes overweight people to become stressed and end up eating more calories and gaining more weight.”

The reality for those that are fat shamed

Being overweight undeniably comes with its share of disadvantages, but that does not give anyone the right to negatively comment on one’s physical appearance. There is an abundance of people around the world who suffer from diseases which give them very little control over their weight, and fat shaming can further adversely impact their image of themselves amongst others.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but it is also important to remember that an opinion which harms someone’s self-esteem is better kept to one’s self.

The use of social media apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook has been increasing at an alarming rate. Within these apps exist several accounts consisting of fitness pages that often display photos of fit men and women. While plenty of those bodies represent years of dedication, many images are photoshopped.

A “fitspiration” post, one of many found on social media. (Photo by Arya Ziai)

Special protein powders, weight loss teas, and fad diets are repeatedly advertised in a manner that convinces the world that being skinny is the only way to live life. Unfortunately, these methods do not always work on all bodies, leading to even more disappointment and wasted money. Being fit and healthy are undoubtedly wonderful qualities one can possess, but what if an individual’s ability to achieve these qualities is limited due to a health concern? Do they really deserve to be treated like their body is flawed just because it is distinctive from others?

Doctors often recommend their patients to try and maintain a certain weight based on their height. However, this suggestion is made to ensure the wellness of their health, not because being thinner looks any better. Fat shaming is often referred to as a movement created to encourage overweight individuals to get into shape. Regardless, a fair line should be drawn between inspiration and empathy.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but it is also important to remember that an opinion which harms someone’s self-esteem is better kept to one’s self.”

No individual is perfect; we all have our own flaws. Hence, realistically speaking, the idea of beauty should not be restricted to one specific body type. Everyone should learn to embrace their imperfections, and, only when it is necessary to do so, talk to others about weight problems in a gentle manner, without overwhelming them to believe they are not good enough for this world.

By Remi Stephanie Rozario

Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.