Negative body talk can have lasting negative impacts. In people who are experiencing disorders it could trigger a relapse. And for those who are not experiencing them, they could become the cause. Because “if they think they’re fat and that’s such a bad thing, what can they ever think of me?” And it’s useless to say “but no, you are not fat!” Because we have all our problems with body image. In a culture so focused on constantly checking how our body is made, how could we not? But we must respect each other’s boundaries and work not only to support the lives of others, but also to avoid harming each other. And when it comes to body image, a reformulation of our body talk can go a long way for the our relationships and ourselves. Not all people we talk to are ready for body talk, even when we decide to talk about ours. Our words may still have an effect on the other person because we don’t know if and how much they are aware of their body, and this could also happen to us.
How to share our insecurities
So how can we correctly share the insecurities about our body without hurting the other people around us? I think it is important to ask for their consent first. We all have the right to choose how we interact with those around us, especially when that commitment could harm us. So I would like if the culture of consent could be part of the way we talk about our bodies. Ask people directly if they are ready for body talk and of course give them time to respond. And also prepare to accept a “no”. We must be respectful and not dismissive of the boundaries that people set, while maintaining the boundaries we set for ourselves.
… so is body shaming useful?
Despite all the difficulties we face with our body, in the end we can experience it in a more peaceful way. We can come to understand what we like and what we don’t like about ourselves and try to make sure that these things don’t stop us from having and living all the experiences we want. However, this doesn’t mean that judgments or even worse insults are useful to live better or “improve”. A life of insults, judgments and micro-aggressions is something that we must spare people because we cannot decide how they should be or how others should feel. This people may still not feel comfortable, but this is a personal thing. Because while everyone has the right to freely express themselves emotionally and not to repress their feelings to please other people, no one has the right to shame or make others feel bad about their body.