Body shaming is a cause for existential crisis amongst a number of individuals. The outward manifestation is given undue priority, leading many to feel ashamed and repugnant towards their own body. The physical appearance is projected to be a deciding factor in their very survival. Sadly, ‘The Self’ is viewed as only the body and not the inner engine that drives it.

Haunted by one’s own external representation, people take drastic steps to alter their physical makeup.  It is essential to stand up against the advocates of beach body and fair skin, who claim through their illustrations that certain physical features are superior to the other. The physical traits are laced into our DNA, and it is not to be ridiculed but celebrated in its entirety.

The Physical Perfection Disorder-

About 1.7-2.4% of the general population in any given nation is affected by Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). It is a body-image disorder where an individual excessively obsesses about their external appearance. The causative factors for BDD, though unclear, majorly weigh on genetic predisposition and life experiences, including scarring childhood memories and peer-abuse. The aftermath of it is disheartening. Teenagers and adults alike take massive measures to modify their looks. Into the bargain, they experience emotional distress leading to reclusive behavior, inferiority complex, and in many cases–suicide.

The Trigger Factors and their Consequences-

As per a poll conducted in the UK, an average of one in every eight individuals 18 and above is a victim of body shaming. The youngsters are brainwashed by various social media networks, fashion magazines, and overbearing peers towards accepting only a specific body type. As a result, many teenagers indulge in bulimia to cut down their weight. Those who felt inferior–being fed images of voluptuous models–invested in cosmetic procedures like breast enhancement. They subjected their body to laser and severe skin treatments in order to eliminate body hair, stretch marks, and zits. Alopecia is handled by hair transplant procedures that cost a fortune–both monetarily (about $4000-$15000 and rarely any insurance coverage) and physically, causing a heavy toll on the human body. An individual may also be deemed a pariah due to their skin color. This congenital physical trait–the skin shade of a person–is shamed and disparaged if it fails to satisfy some arbitrary societal notion.

Shallow media platforms are often the breeding centre for such image projections. Celebrities have caved in to these pressures to appear young and shapely throughout their life. Courtney Cox, the popular Monica of the American Sitcom FRIENDS, regretted adhering to social pressures and undergoing a plethora of cosmetic procedures to appear younger. To fit into the society, professionals resort to plastic surgeries, liposuction, and long term Botox and laser treatments. The long-running, Fair and Lovely advertisements in India, promoted skin color to be the sole factor responsible in shaping a person’s confidence. Unfortunately, the physical aspect is given so much weightage that people across all age groups value themselves solely on the grounds of sheer outward exhibit.

The Voice Against Physical Discrimination-

Today, nations are burning in anger due to inhuman treatment on account of a person’s body type and skin color. Their voices reverberate in agony due to ceaseless racial discrimination, disapproving of the atrocities faced on account of physical makeup. International sensations from the cinema world–Meryl Streep, Sharon Stone, and Emma Thompson to name a few–have written off plastic surgery, advocating the process of natural aging. Indian actresses like Vidya Balan and Maanvi Gagroo to Zendaya and Lady Gaga in the West are just a few examples of the many people who have raised their voice against Photoshopping their figure to meet some magazine’s irrational benchmark. We must strive to inculcate from an early age a positive body image and the level of importance the internal self deserves. As Eleanor Roosevelt would say, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t allow the shallow world to ever get to you.

Physical Care and DNA-

Exercising, following a healthy diet, staying hydrated and managing stress are various means to prevent obesity, nourishing the skin and maintaining a fit body. Ultimately, physical traits are deep enmeshed into our DNA. A person’s skin color, hair growth, oil gland population, fat accumulation or size can be attributed to genetic inheritance, environmental factors and lifestyle. Aim to keep your body healthy and not to slice down or damage your physical identity.

Food for Thought-

Thus, why should this inherited trait be ridiculed, be the criteria for employment worthiness, be a reason to brutally judge someone? Physical appearance should not eclipse our mind. It shouldn’t be the cause of establishing self-worth and identity. External appearance is not the yardstick for existence and definitely not the certificate for a person’s credibility. Accept yourself wholly and learn to respect life in any and every form.