Love thyself: Raise body positive girls for body positive women

Mirror woman

Always remember you are your own critic.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • Why does one have to feel the urge to change so as to conform and fit into certain societal standards?
  • Let’s remember that when there is no enemy inside, the enemy outside will do you no harm.

Body shaming is the act of deriding or mocking a person’s physical appearance. It is humiliating and has painful long-term effects. Social media has exacerbated the body shaming culture. While this is not considered a crime, moral and ethical values make it wrong to shame someone based on societal expectations. 

Body shaming can be traced back to the renaissance period, during which power and wealth were indicated by the size of one’s body. Large bodies were idealised. The rich had easy access to food and did not need to till the land, so they appeared larger and paler. 

The narrative has, however, changed. Wealth is still the focal point from which socially constructed ideas on the ideal body type emanate. With inflation and the availability of fast food cafes, “fat people” are considered lazy and unhealthy. Today’s world prefers thin to thick.

A simple statement from a mother to a daughter such as “that dress would look more beautiful on you if you were a little bit curvy”, or a friend to another such as, “perhaps if you stopped eating too much, you would look better”, would be considered body shaming.

In the same vein, remarks such as, “where does all the food that you eat go to?”, is an act of body shaming. Society has built this notion of an ideal African woman being curvy but in all the right places. 

Thick skin for body shamers

Why all body types, shapes and sizes can’t be accommodated in the so-called “perfect body”? Why does one have to feel the urge to change so as to conform and fit into certain societal standards? Many celebrities have been body shamed on social media. One of the people that I admire is the Kibera based musician Steven Otieno aka Stivo Simple Boy. He rose above the hate and mockery to become productive. 

Celebrities such as Linda Nyangweso, Pierra Makena, Anerlisa Muigai, Sanaipei Tande, DK Kwenye Beat, Kamene Goro, Chebet Ronoh, Lilian Muli, Sharon Mundia and Betty Kyalo have openly spoken about body shaming.

“The last thing a person should tell a mother is how bad she looks. Putting her down is unfair and uncouth, this should stop. I speak as a mom and kudos to all women and mothers looking gorgeous and bringing up beautiful children,” Ms Goro, the Kiss 100 presenter, said. This beautiful lady has spoken of how she feels confident and comfortable in her body.

Ms Kyalo seems to have developed a thick skin for body shamers. She once stated: “Wasiokupenda itawakosti. Just busy shining. A’int got time.”

Always remember you are your own critic. Love yourself and if ever you decide you want to change something about you, let it be because you want to and not because society expects you to. Nobody is perfect. All in all, let’s remember that when there is no enemy inside, the enemy outside will do you no harm. Let us always be our biggest supporters. 

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