As human beings, we love to believe that we are beautiful no matter our body shape or size. Of course, these beliefs are a good thing. After all, we are all wonderfully made. However, it is rather ironic that despite all this “positive vibe” we give ourselves and those around us, the act of body shaming is still a thing, a huge one when related to clothing especially.
Body shaming simply put is the act of expressing mockery or criticism about a person’s body shape and/or size. It is a form of discrimination – discrimination based on appearance. Body shaming can happen to all body shapes and body sizes. Both skinny people and fat people alike can be victims of body shaming. In this post, we will be focusing more on fat-shaming.
Fat shaming is when plus-sized people are being discriminated against and criticized due to their body shape. Women are more prone to fat shaming than men.
For women, fat shaming is a big occurrence , especially in the fashion industry. The fashion industry plays a major role in setting the ‘ideal’ body types and shapes women should aspire to have. This ideal body shape and size do not always accommodate the stylish needs of the plus-size woman. This creates a plethora of problems for women with this body size.
First of all, there is a limited number of clothing produced specifically to suit plus-size women’s needs by fashion companies. This is because of the belief that clothes do not hang nicely on plus-size women as compared to skinny women.
The mainstream media is not helping with this maltreatment either. There is usually a section of the magazine dedicated to offering tips on how women can stay fit and diet to achieve the imaginary ideal figure. While keeping fit and having a healthy body weight is important, there are two things wrong with this. One, plus-sized people may only diet for the sole purpose of being able to conform to the weight specifications we have unconsciously placed on ourselves as a society. The health reasons are often placed as a secondary factor. Two, it goes against the liberalist ideal of the 21st Century society which allows for people to be “comfortable in their own skin”.
One thing that is rather sad about this fat shaming fiasco is the situation of self-shaming. This is a situation in which plus-size women fat shame themselves. This has resulted in low self-esteem and a lot of mental health issues. There is the story of a plus-sized Nigerian comedienne who after making jokes about her body type at a show would cry out of depression in the car. Sad, isn’t it?
Lastly, there is usually a misrepresentation of clothes and how they’d look on plus-size women. Most fashion companies use skinny models to represent and advertise their work. This could lead to a misrepresentation of how the cloth would look on a plus-size woman. The hypocrisy on the part fashion companies is that they may produce big sizes of the cloth in other to drive sales, without adequate visual representation of the cloth on a plus-size model.
To further clarify my point, I will use a sweet-heart neckline dress as example. The way a dress with a sweet-heart neckline would look on a skinny woman is going to be different from how it would look on a plus-size woman. Being plus-sized means having a larger bust size as compared to being skinny. This means a low-cut sweet-heart neckline blouse would accentuate a plus-sized woman’s bust more than that of a skinny person.
Since a lot of fashion companies will not show the eager buyer how a particular cloth would look like on a plus-sized model, the plus-sized woman may be disappointed that the cloth does not fit the same way it does on a skinny model.
This, by extension, usually leads to a sort of discrimination, particularly in a society like ours. We tag the plus-sized woman indecent for wearing the same dress a skinny woman wears. While we tag the skinny woman as classy.
I agree that people should dress in manners that would accentuate their body types or best features. I also, however, think that it is high time we kept an open mind and consciously began to stop fat shaming people.
At the end of the day, these perceptions of the proper and improper body sizes are all in our minds. And the beauty of the human mind is that we can re-invent our beliefs . Body shaming – whether fat shaming or skinny shaming – is a horrible thing that can cause unimaginable psychological distresses for the victim.
It’s high time we realized that beauty is not one size fits all.