How To Appreciate a Human Body 

By Kotnyin Thon

The theory of a healthy body image is feeling happy and satisfied with your body. It’s the beauty of people coming in different packages. God creates for a reason.

We must know that body shaming is not only about being overweight or underweight. Being disabled, not fitting into community expectations, being tall, short, failing to look ‘’hot’’ in some outfits, and having scars may all lead to body shaming. This shaming can interfere with the mental health of the victim.

Mission Australia’s 2019 National Youth Survey, published on Butterfly, reported: ‘’Body image was recorded as one of the top four personal concerns for 33.5 per cent of young people when it comes to their mental health. Notably higher proportions of women (42.8% compared with 14.5% of males) were extremely or very concerned about body image.’’

body image c. 1940
This postcard from 1940 looks at the way we can’t help comparing ourselves with others. Picture: Jason Tinkey/CC/flickr

So, a few weeks ago. I shared a question (Why do stout or slim people find body shamming more offensive?) on Instagram Story and What’s App asking my followers the reason they believed body shaming differed base on size.

‘’We find it offensive because when we are hanging out with our friends who are not slim like us, you feel left out and make you feel small and less valuable to the rest,” said an 18-year-old girl. “I am slim and my siblings are not. Which my family, especially my mom, always worries when she sees me with my friends who are not like me, and she would tell me that I don’t look good like my friends.

“This is because we have some bones showing out like our beautiful clavicle (collarbone) and our friends don’t. Sometimes we find it offensive because when society thinks we are not able to carry heavy things as we don’t look strong enough. This offensive is huge to me because strength or being strong is not our physical body appearance but how we feel about something and have confidence to do it. Which make you capable of doing it within your strength.’’

‘’You can’t live by what society expects of you, live by your own terms, and love yourself. You should learn how to feel good about yourself because you are worthy,” said a 24-year-old man.

African culture has a totally different take on body image. In the Western world we would go on dieting pathways to lose weight but men in Ethiopia  do the exact opposite in an annual competition where the aim is to gain the largest waistline.

‘’Normally fat people appeared to have low self-esteem, they easily feel disrespected, and are sensitive compared to slim people. Women being the worse. Culturally being fat is a sign of wealth particularly back in Sudan, fat people are highly regards over slim folks. Slim people are seen as ‘koc che ke nguet’ (starving people),” said a man in his early 30’s.

Pharoah's fat kine - pharoah's lean kine LCCN2004681711
A Georgian-era postcard looking at different body types. Picture: Ashley Van Haeften/CC/flickr

A 24-year-old man said: “Well, talking out of experience, skinny people literally go through the same thing. I remember back to 2019 when I was weighting 53kgs at the age of 21, a lot of people use to make fun of it, like ‘your weight will soon match your age’. It was a devastating moment for me. I decided to gain up to 75kgs (by 2020). I really regret it, because I put myself in a pressure just to prove that I can also gain weight.”

A lot of people are going through this out there. The steps taken to overcome body shaming (for skinny people), are just the same as of those who are larger. No one deserves to be called all sort of hurtful names regarding how they look.

“We are all important and unique in our own ways, but it is sad that community does not know that,” said a 24-year-old man.

Whether you are healthy or not but you breath, you are beautiful, you are fit, you are slim, thick, you are strong, your height is perfect that is why the creator did and did not add an inch, you are fast, your disability is extremely unique and out of all you are God’s favourite.  

Featured image: The Judgment of Paris, by Peter Paul Rubens/CC/Wikimedia Commons

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