Body-Shamed and Ashamed

City women

Women face body-shaming even on the day of body acceptance- the International No Diet Day.

Kolkata: Mithila (named changed), a resident of Kolkata, was body-shamed by her brother as he calls her a ‘fat girl’ in public. She said he was just joking but her facial expressions changed and she wasn’t looking comfortable. Walking a few steps, she asked her brother not to do this again in public.

Many others like Mithila have to deal with body-shaming on a day-to-day basis. Shrinkhala Shrivastava, a resident of Mangalore, said that she was always a little overweight since her childhood. However, she gained a lot more weight in the nationwide lockdown last year, and her friends and family members started teasing her. She added that her mother usually tells her to eat less as she is gaining weight.

Priya (name changed), a resident of Jaipur, said “I am ashamed to wear a saree as I am not confident with my body.” She also has stretch marks on her body which add on to the problem. However, her mother always motivates and supports her, she added.

Dr. Bhaskar Mukherjee, a psychiatrist in Kolkata, said, “Body shaming is becoming a trend today and a basis of discrimination for a long time.” He said that women who face body-shaming often suffer from recurrent depressive symptoms, anxiety, eating disorders specifically anorexia and bulimia, suicidality, and aggressive behaviour.

Shrinkhala also said that she used to cry for days when she tried hard and couldn’t lose weight. She stopped eating altogether so she could lose weight. However, it made the situation worse. Sugar levels in her body dropped and she fainted. On this nutritionist Sucharita Sengupta said, “Not eating anything is not the right way of losing weight. This does more harm than help. If someone really wants to lose weight there are healthier options where they lose weight gradually and their health doesn’t deteriorate.”

A report by Fortis HealthCare shows that 90 per cent of the surveyed women said that body shaming is a common activity. The survey also concludes that women face body shaming more than men. Over 60 per cent of women agreed that it is important to look good to be confident. Priya said that she didn’t agree with the last point a few years ago but now when she has been experiencing this again and again, she has lost faith in herself. “Sometimes, I feel ashamed to look in the mirror,” she added.

Dr. Bhaskar advised women who suffer from mental health issues due to body-shaming to meditate regularly, get sound sleep and eat properly. “They should be mentally strong in order to handle these adverse situations,” he added.

Feminism in India @Twitter on Body-Shaming of Women

The twitter page Feminism in India tweeted recently “There is no heroism in losing weight. It is merely a matter of discipline. There is no loss of self esteem in gaining some.” One of their articles that they linked to which talks about fighting body shaming says “Confidence is not a slave of some body type.”