We live in a society where everyone wants to be perceived as a perfect person on their social media handles. Notwithstanding the reality, everyone is concerned about pompous and dazzling display of their persona. The society is becoming image-heavy, to an extent that advertisements in magazines and newspapers, books, pamphlets, and online sources are all filled with posts defining norms of beauty that lead to disastrous consequences like body shaming.
The teenagers are getting adversely affected by this recurring mindset. In the midst of this growing concern, teenagers are unloving themselves and are sweating after achieving the so-called ‘perfect body’ which does not exist. The internalisation of body shaming and weight bias hangs heavy on the minds of teenagers, so much so that it starts affecting their routine life. Nobody is realising the dire consequences of such a phenomenon.
Why body shaming is a big issue?
Body shaming and the targeted criticism associated with it provokes teenagers to possess lower self-esteem. It does not allow children to love themselves the way they are. They are making negative comparisons in classrooms, playgrounds and social media, that generates serious psychological and mental disorders like anxiety issues, mood swings and depression.
They are so conscious regarding their bodies and appearance that they are neglecting their real health. Regular name-calling or body shaming has deprived almost every over-weight teenager of mental peace. It is affecting them in such a grave manner that it is leaving life-long scars over their personality. The entire generation is incredibly insecure and concerned over this stereotyping, which needs to be addressed in a serious manner.
The conundrum lies in-between being over-weight and being fat in appearance. We have been well fed with the idea that possessing a sleek and slim body is being sexy, while a protruding belly is repulsive. However, an extremely thin body deprived of muscular development and unpumped veins is no good. But, more often than not, the peer group’s concern is never about being fit; it is all about the appearance.
Instead, teenagers should be made to realise that keeping their body fit is of prime importance. Flaunting the six-pack abs should not be the sole purpose of going to the gym. Rather, the focus should be on increasing the bone density and strengthening the muscles.
What could be done to combat body shaming in teenagers?
Focus on what they have
Teach your child to focus on what they have, instead of focusing on what they don’t. Teach them to embrace their body the way it is. Encourage them to keep fit, but never ask them to go out of their way to achieve a perfect body.
Support your teen
Be a good listener. Make your teen realise that their thoughts and opinions matter to you. Help them in unburdening their problems in front of you, and try to provide solutions for the same. Do not discourage or demotivate your child.
Everything on social media isn’t real
Remind your child that photos on social media are airbrushed. A huge part of what we see on social media is not real. So, one should not struggle for achieving a perfect body to flaunt over the social media platforms.
Diet control – Children don’t need the underpinnings of the diet, they need to feel good about what they eat. Health should be the main concern when it comes to diet. Period.
Emotional and mental satisfaction
It is of extreme importance to make your child realise their self-worth. Focus on building on a child’s talents, rather than focusing on physical appearance. Emotional and mental support should be extended to the child.
Finding an interesting activity
Man is a social animal and craves company of like-minded people. Encourage your teen to associate with a group that engages in an activity that they find interesting. It could be a Scrabble club, Cubing association, debating team, drawing classes, astronomy club, guitar classes or even the neighbourhood badminton team. Being part of such a group will lessen their trauma and increase their sense of belonging. In the bargain, they might pick up a great new hobby or skill!
Inspire and encourage empathy
Encourage your child to look up to realistic and inspiring every-day heroes. Make sure they learn about famous tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams, who had to face jibes over their African-American ethnicity in early childhood. Closer home, Vidya Balan and Nawazuddin Siddique survived evils like body shaming and emerged out to be real-life heroes.
To conclude, be there for your child always, and inculcate in them the habit of practising self-love and minding their own body. Let’s take a step towards making this world a better place to live in.