Given that this is Mental Health Awareness Month, over the next few weeks, I will write about things that drive people into depression and poor mental health.
Firstly, body shaming
Our bodies aren’t just there to look nice. They are a vehicle to live, breathe and experience all that the world has to offer. So why, historically, have we shunned bodies just because they are of different shapes, sizes, and different functionalities? The one size fits all approach to beauty standards has finally begun to wear thin over the past few years, with the body positivity movement making waves, and having impactful repercussions in the way people view themselves.
For aeons on end, society has had opinions and defined standards of what is regarded as acceptable when it comes to body image. This often puts an expectation on a lot of women to look a certain way that would be deemed acceptable. However, this not only puts pressure on women, but it also pushes them to try hard to not hate their bodies; especially women who are big or the ones labelled as ‘fat’. If you are not skinny enough to fit the Victoria Secret criterion, then you cannot be in the same category as fat Amy because then you are undesirable. This often leads to depression and insecurities that built up so much that one cannot exist freely in society.
The thing is, we all need to understand that all bodies should be celebrated, regardless. Lumps, bumps, curves, stretch marks – whatever your shape or size, your body works in wonderful ways and should be celebrated. But disappointingly, we live in a world where narrow beauty standards mean those who don’t fit in can often be made to feel less-than.
It is also important to note that women take a long time to heal and love their bodies as they are. Bullying them into societal norms will only send them into a deeper abyss of hatred and depression. Despite many conversations about the dangers of fat-shaming, there’s no doubt that the plus-size community is still facing discrimination. Body shaming insults are, sadly, just as routine on the internet.
Body shaming trolls, your days of body shaming should be over. Because there’s an army of female influencers out there who have reclaimed the word fat for themselves, and they are refusing to let it be used as an insult any longer. This will be a resurgence as soon as we start normalising the term fat, by reverting it back to a descriptor as opposed to a term of abuse. We can start to remove its power as a weapon that not only oppresses women but also demoralises their confidence.
Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.