[I didn't really have an appropriate image for this post, so I decided to share a little collage of Christmas snaps with you instead]
This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot recently, and after a quick scroll through twitter it's easy to see that a lot of other people have too; from the barrage of abuse that was sent at Gemma Collins whilst she was in the I'm a Celebrity jungle, to the 'skinny shaming' All About that Bass lyrics- The bottom line is: body shaming is wrong whether the person is fat, thin or an average weight. When did it become acceptable to judge someone else on their appearance, or visibly try to upset someone based on something which may not be in their control?
Here's the reality of my situation: I am 5foot4. I have never bought an item of clothing that is bigger than a size 8 in my life, and I have been subjected to a number of different body shaming encounters on various occasions; from being told I need to get some meat on my bones by a stranger in the gym; to being told by a man on Oxford Road in Manchester that I'd be really fit if I had a boob job; to once being laughed at for eating a bowl of pasta for lunch (oh no, actual carbs). You can't win. If you are seen eating someone is judging your choice of food, if you're not seen eating it is assumed you must be skipping meals. If you go to the gym you're obsessed with your looks and if you don't you're lazy and unhealthy. I appreciate that we all have different opinions of what is attractive, but please, if mine or anyone else's natural body shape is not one that appeals to you, don't go out of your way to ruin our day by telling us that.
We have come to develop the idea that 'real women' are curvy, and we mustn't all feel obliged to conform to size zero. Although I am all for positive role models showing off different body shapes, that doesn't mean that someone who is naturally small or lacking in curves can't be beautiful too. Why does it have to be one or the other? Just because I wear a size 6 does not make me less of a woman than anyone else. Why does the fact that I am not naturally curvy detract from my ability to be a human being? If 'real women' are curvy, then what am I? Women have fought for years for equality, the vote, better jobs, the right to earn the same as men, and yet we sit here and in 140 characters or less manage to degrade everything they fought for by tweeting that a 'real woman' is not defined by her achievements but by her body shape.
The worst part of the situation however, isn't just the trolling or laughing about other people's physical appearance... it is the fact that we live in a culture where girls actually bond over body shaming themselves. I can't help but think about the scene in Mean Girls where the Plastics are continually picking holes in their appearance, and turn to look at Cady expecting her to do the same. Not only is it expected for us to laugh at fat people, skinny shame thin people, but we are expected to dislike our own appearance too.
Over the past few months I have been working incredibly hard to change my outlook on life, shift my priorities from worrying about trivial things to focusing on important things like family and health. It is all too easy to forget that what is going on inside your body is far more important than what it looks like on the outside, and it only takes a quick look at my medical history to know my inside needs some serious work. So instead of judging me for going to the gym, assuming that my reasons behind it are pure vanity, why not respect me for trying to overcome my poor health and become stronger both physically and mentally. Everyone has a choice: to judge someone on face value or to take time to understand their situation and judge them for their personality. Remember: it costs nothing to be nice.
'If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.'