Can Body Shaming Be Justified?

Body shaming: it’s everywhere you look. But what does it really mean and can it be justified?

Let’s start with the obvious: body shaming implies that a person can be judged according to the way she looks and most commonly according to how much she weights. People who engage in such judgments usually use one or all of these arguments: an overweight person should be ashamed of their body because it is wrong, ugly or unhealthy.

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We won’t even try to explain how a body can be wrong. We put value on a person words and actions, because we feel that’s what defines a person. It’s absurd to put a moral value on the number of pounds a body weights. But some people do and our imagination is not so rich as to try to comprehend how their argument would work.

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So let’s move to the second statement: a fat body is an ugly body. In other words, a fat person should feel ashamed because their body does not comfort to society’s beauty standards. Well, here’s the key- word: society’s beauty standards.

These standards are not something that exist in themselves, they are not the norm in the sense of the average or common traits of real people. They are a social construct. They are artificial criteria invented by the fashion and beauty industry in order to sell more products. Why a person should indeed conform to them, we don’t know.

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Not to mention that these standards fluctuate from ages to ages: during the Renaissance era for example, a heavy woman was considered beautiful and today’s standards would have been considered absurd.

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What about the idea that being fat means being unhealthy? In this logic, should a person who has lost a lot of weight due to sickness be considered healthy? What about those millions of people who exercise a lot, who watch what they eat but are still curvy? Should they feel ashamed of their bodies?

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People should not assume that just because someone is overweight, it is because they are living an unhealthy lifestyle. There are plenty of reasons why someone might be overweight outside of inactivity and excessive junk food.

And most importantly, shaming these people will not achieve anything. You can not be scarred into changing your habits. And you certainly cannot be shamed into it.

Don’t participate in a practice that puts other people down! Please, share this!