body shaming

What is Body Shaming and Why is it Wrong?

One of the many concepts Pakistanis are finding a hard time to grapple with is body shaming. What exactly is body shaming, how are we contributing to it, and why is it wrong?

Read below to find out;

What is Body Shaming:

Body shaming basically means commenting negatively on someone’s appearance, if it doesn’t conform to the traditional beauty standards. Calling someone fat, even as a joke, giving someone nicknames based on their complexion, telling someone they need to do something about their acne, are all forms of body shaming. 

body shamming
Fairness Cream ads always shame dark women

Why is it Wrong:

For one, basic ethics demand that you should not make fun of anyone’s appearance. That is something parents need to practice and teach their children as well. You should never comment on how someone looks like or speaks like because they do not have control over it. We are all created equal by Allah, so who are we really making fun of when we are body shaming?

Secondly, the beauty standards we judge people by were created by a patriarchal Western society that discriminates on color and race. Even decades after the British left, we are still running after the Gora rung. People with dark complexions are humiliated and rejected for being dark. Others try harmful skin products in an attempt to become fair. Women particularly are subjected to unrealistic beauty standards and undergo dieting or surgeries to stay thin and fair. But now even men are forced to stay fit and made fun of if they are fat, bald or dark.

One of the biggest effects of body shaming is depression, self-hatred, and insecurity. People who are told the same thing by people over and over again, that they need to lose weight, do something about their acne, get rid of facial hair, etc., start hating themselves. This can lead to low self-esteem and depression.

Things We Need to Stop Doing:

Here are some things, friends or caring elders, say to people struggling with their image on an everyday basis. We need to stop doing these immediately.

Rejecting people based on appearance.

Larki achi hai bus moti hai. Larka acha hai bus hieght kam hai thori.

Rejecting people based on looks is pretty common. Young men and women are vetted on very high standards during the desi rishta process. Imagine the toll the self-esteem and confidence of a person who was rejected on a minor thing in their appearance. Read more about everything wrong with the desi rishta process here.

Nicknaming people on their appearances.

Kaala/kaali, mota/moti, chota/choti etc are all common nicknames. It’s not funny. It’s derogatory. Even between friends, this needs to stop.

Giving body advice when no one asked for your opinion.

Yeh cream try karo rung saaf ho jaye ga. Gym jaya karo. Yeh totka try karo 2 weeks mein weight lose ho jaye ga.

If someone asks you, go ahead give your two-pence. Otherwise, there is no need to be “helpful” and trying to fix someone.

Meeting someone after a long time and commenting on their appearance.

Kitni motay ho gaye ho. Kitni peeli ho gayi ho. Khana nai khati? Shakal dekho apni kya haal bnaya hua hai.

Most friends and relatives do this as a way of showing how much they care. If you meet someone after a long time, don’t try to personally attack them, focus on the good things in each other’s life. You have no idea they might already be struggling with their body issues and don’t need you to remind them.

Going to random people with your comments

Ap kuch try kar rahi apne complexion key liye? Ap koi protein shake wagera le rahe hen bulk up hone key liye?

If you do this, you need a therapist. People who walk up to random strangers in malls and gyms to comment on their appearance are the worst kind. No, you are not frank or straightforward, just plain mean.

Body shaming celebrities on social media;

Yeh shadi key baad kitni moti ho gayi hai. Yeh makeup key beghair kitni kaali hai

You have no idea that woman you called fat publically may be pregnant or the woman you called dark has been rejected from dramas and movies for being dark. So it’s better to keep your opinion to yourself. 

Body shaming has been a part of our culture for a long time. From rejecting men and women based on their appearance to making friendly jokes on looks, it’s time we develop a little empathy and change our ways. The key is to decide on your own never to comment on anyone’s outward appearance unless you have something nice to say. If we all make this promise to ourselves, we can make a much kinder, better world.