Body shaming isn't something that affects people of one body type; it affects a variety of people across the spectrum.
In a society consumed by social media, body shaming has become such a prevalent topic. Because social media takes away key interpersonal communication aspects, many people feel that they can say whatever they want without any real repercussion. In addition, body shaming happens in real life as well--like when someone offers an unsolicited negative comment about your appearance.
Another common misconception is that body shaming is just about bodies. Body shaming is more than about body types and is actually anytime someone takes time to negatively comment on your physical appearance.
Below you will read stories by amazing women who aim to change the way we view body image and share their experiences with body shaming. As you will see, it doesn't affect one type of person or body. We've all had our fair share, so let's take the touchy taboo out of the subject and talk about it!
Model and body image advocate
You set the tone for how others treat you by the way you treat yourself so its important to understand that there is no other body like the one you have! During my health journey, I received a lot of heat for my weight loss transformation, but have learned to let go of body shaming by no longer giving body shamers my time and energy.
Body image advocate and aspiring model
At eight years old I remember looking at my thighs and wanting them to be smaller. My body image only got worse as I got older. By the time I hit high school, my insecurities kept telling me I was not good enough which caused me to formed horrible eating habits. The more weight I gained, the more food I ate. Instead of trying to work with myself within and become healthier, I found that I was making myself worse and the depression and anxiety I was feeling became too much to bare.
So I decided to change not only for me, but for my family who became worried about my health. Even though it was a lot of work, I began getting active. I began to love my body for everything it was and what it can do. I was so proud, that I started to pursue modeling. But even when my self-esteem was at its highest, I was body shamed. I once worked with a photographer who made me feel horrible. He told me I didn't look good in any of the outfits, he said that he wouldn't continue to take pictures if they were still "coming out bad". He was making smart remarks of my body and was not shy to remind me that all the models he has worked with were 6 foot tall and size 0. While this experience was upsetting, I was grateful. Grateful that I had the experience because after the struggle and fight to love my body I was not going to let anyone bring me down! Not everyone is going to like the way you look, but you have to love yourself enough to know that no matter what you are beautiful no matter what size you are.
Body image advocate and model
I've experienced body shame throughout my life, regardless of my size or health at the time. I lost about 80 pounds 3 years ago; I'm the healthiest I've ever been- and I still experience it! I've come to realize that people are ALWAYS going to have something to say- especially if they're behind the protection of a phone or computer monitor. I don't let it bother me anymore because the people that actually take the time to write or say hurtful things are dealing with issues of their own.
RN, fitness enthusiast, and body image advocate
On a large platform such as Instagram, I've heard it all. This is my advice to all of you that are being shamed for embracing your body: you give people the power to hurt you. If you simply choose not to give them that power, nothing they say can touch you. You become impervious to their insults. On a platform where anyone can say anything anonymously, you can't stop "negativity". People say "rise above it" "ignore them!" I don't think that's right, either. I believe in standing up for what I believe is right. Even if it may lead to conflict. I don't like to give people a free pass. Do whatever makes you feel better at the end of the day. If ignoring and blocking gives you peace, do that. Just know that no matter how much you change your body there will always be someone to criticize it. You have more to offer this world than a "perfect" body. I may have fat, cellulite, and scars. But I literally save lives for a living. My life's purpose isn't dependent on having a great body, a huge social media following, or likes on a picture. Confidence is sexy. Intelligence is beautiful. Contribute something worthwhile to the world. Your self worth will blossom. Know that your value and your beauty can't be diminished by someone's words.
Author, body image advocate, and ED survivor
It was in my healing that I realized it was never my body that was the problem at all. In fact, it was never ME that was a problem either. Once I realized that I had the power to change my thoughts, to forgive myself, to love myself, and to be ME – exactly as I am – is when I became free and stopped hating myself. So often we think of body shaming as coming from others, but we forget that the cruelest source can come from ourselves. You have something unique to offer in this world and you should never try to change yourself for the wrong reasons.
Illustrator and Body Image Activist
I never was, and never will be a skinny girl, it is just the way I am built. I felt so bad about it a for long time, which caused me to stop loving myself. In turn, I didn't allow anyone else to love me. But something changed.
I grew tired of body shaming myself and putting myself down and so began the long and difficult journey of self acceptance. It took a lot of selfies, compliments and looks in the mirror. I was slowly starting to find myself behind those blue eyes, blond hair and freckles.
Through this journey I also learned to take care of my body again. Something I had never actually done, because how can you take care of something that you hate?
Beautiful dresses, conditioner, some make-up now and than, sport shoes and a gym membership. I love exercise, I always had and began testing my limits, working up a sweat. I began to feel satisfied.
I just didn’t want to be that fat girl in the gym that HAD to work out. Getting those funny looks. Hearing whispers: "Oh yeah, keep on going… you need it!” and “look at that big ugly whale!" So i didn't dare to go.
Now I am not there to lose weight and feel "beautiful." I am there because I like exercise and want to be healthy.
I never was and never will be a skinny girl, and I am okay with that.
Model and body image advocate
When I was 16 years old I made the jump from straight sized modeling to curvy and an article was published about me to publicly shame my transformation At the time this article was written, I was still in a very dark place. I didn’t see myself a model. I was unable to accept that my body was not stick thin. The man who wrote this compared my anorexic body, to my naturally curvy body. He called me a ‘chubby blogger’ and said I looked too fat in my new curvy photos. But he also said my head was too big for my frail unhealthy body. An adult male ripped apart a fragile teenager in recovery. I was absolutely devastated when I first read this (easily found by googling my name). Looking back on this situation, I’m glad it happened. It was a huge learning lesson for me. His blog post shows that no matter what size you are, someone will try to tare you down. You just have to be the best version of yourself and f**k everyone else.
Olympic weight lifter and model
It's hard when you think about it to go back to the first time you were body shamed. To the first time someone brought it to your attention that there was something "wrong" with your body. For most women this is a continuous taunting that there is indeed something wrong with our bodies and in turn tells us we are not enough. The one thing you need to know is you are perfect just as you are. You are not what other people project onto you. Our focus should be more on our emotional and physical health rather than pleasing those around us. Think of all the things you could accomplish if you let those body shaming thoughts fall off your shoulders? You would go join that workout class, wear that cute dress or whatever you’re holding yourself back from thinking that your body is not capable of. I never thought I could do any type of athletic sport because of my body shaming experiences but look at me now. Fight on lovelies!
Writer and designer
In college I started getting harassed and bullied because of my body. I am a 6'9" girl and I was an emotional eater, a fact I couldn't hide. All the time people would laugh at me and shout horrible insults. I developed severe anxiety and agoraphobia.
After 6 months of using this coping tool, I was at the supermarket and I saw a young man with that telltale uncomfortable grin side-eyeing his friends, preparing to make fun of me. So I smiled super huge and said, "Hi!" loudly. He screamed and then shouted, "Godzilla!!!" He and his friends ran out laughing maniacally. My heart dropped into my shoes and shame stained my cheeks.
Then, a new feeling arose like a flame from the embers burning in the pit of my stomach. I was so tired of using so much energy to be nice to people who seemed to hate me. I was sick of the constant nerve frying anxiety too. I wanted to punch people who looked at me wrong. I wanted to smash their expensive phones when they took pictures of me like an animal in the zoo. I didn't smile, I screamed at them. I terrified people. No one was the better for it. They didn't learn to rejoice in people's differences rather than make fun of them. Instead they learned to be afraid of my uniqueness.
Now, after many years of painful, often sexist & body shaming public encounters, I know that it makes a difference how I act and how I react. First, how I carry myself informs the type of responses I get. If I feel good about myself, others tend to reflect that. But I'll always get the rude stuff, and it may not be "fair" that I have to offer my time to people who mistreat me in order to expand their minds. Its definitely not fair to be loving to people who are nasty to me. But I believe it is right.
I aim to stand tall and brave, and never shrink or get upset. To be gracious and calm in the face of every type of reaction to my body. Do I succeed in this all the time? Hell no. Sometimes I still threaten people if they happen to be the 7th person to insult or harass me that day. I do my best though. And by being level-headed, warm, intelligent, and well-spoken *I actually affect how they will treat other people from that day forward.* Which is completely amazing!!!
Body image advocate and winner of ABC's "My Diet is Better Than Yours"
Student, photographer, and advocate for muscular dystrophy awareness
Nowadays, I am super aware that people can judge you for looking a certain way and that they don't consider the reasons for why you look like you do. My spine is severely distorted due to scoliosis. Because of this this I can look 'larger' in clothes because my spine pushes my ribs forward. It also means that I 'waddle' when I walk. Unfortunately because of my appearance, people make negative assumptions about my body and my health. I find it so hard to be tough and not let what other people's assumptions affect me - that's why I believe in speaking out & bringing awareness to my 'invisible disability' because if people know why my body is how it is, then maybe they can learn to accept not only mine but also the bodies of other people who have incurable and life-altering health conditions. Body shaming needs to stop. It so damaging, yet so simple to avoid!
Author, blogger, and yoga junkie
When I lived in New York, I dated a guy pretty briefly at the same time that my eating disorder (orthorexia) was getting very serious. I was a plant-based vegan, was subsisting on 30-day juice cleanses, and wouldn’t even eat most types of fruit because of the fear I’d developed about natural sugars.
One day out of nowhere he told me that for how healthy I ate, it was shocking to him that I wasn’t skinnier. He had seen a story about me on the Internet about my losing weight as a vegan, and the story had a before and after picture. He even went so far as to say, “Wow, you never told me that you used to be overweight. I thought you said you were always into health.”
My silent response was… Excuse me? I was never overweight. That was my healthy body weight before I started being highly restrictive and this is what I look like as a plant-based raw vegan who does not eat enough. Who are you to say that I was overweight then, and that I am not small enough for your liking now?
His words sent me into a downward spiral of wanting and trying to be even thinner than I already was, although for my frame I knew I was already too small.
Now, I look back on that whole experience and am grateful for a few things. For one, I am so glad that he and I broke up shortly thereafter. He clearly did not understand me or support my health and happiness. Secondly, he taught me that someone else’s words and opinions when it comes to my health are often so far off base… They don’t know what it feels like to be in my body, and I don’t need to base my own body image perception off of what anyone else says or thinks.
Lastly — I am so happy in my skin now. I am strong. I treat my body with kindness. My body is my vessel for all that I do that I LOVE and am so happy doing. It has carried me through a full marathon, through thousands of yoga classes, through epicly long walks on the beach with my favorite humans. It loves me back no matter how much I have put it through.
Advocate for PCOS awareness and self love enthusiast
For years I was a prisoner of my body and my beliefs towards it. A body shaming incident that really triggered me was sometime between 4th & 5th grade when a boy on the playground told me I had big legs. That event alone solidified the idea that I had to lose weight.
From that moment on I obsessed over being skinny. I dieted and the weight would come off only to later regain it. I remember once going over to a relatives house, and as soon as I walked in the door she said "you're obviously not on a diet anymore". I felt ashamed and embarrassed because how could I still be "fat" after trying so hard to be skinny? People always made comments about my weight and even though I acted like it was nothing, it ate me up inside. I have missed out on so many things in life all because I never felt my body was worthy of experiencing anything until I had reached my goal weight. It was later on that I learned I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). One of the symptoms of PCOS weight gain & struggling to lose weight. After all these years of feeling ashamed for always being on a diet and looking the same, I finally had an answer. People are quick to judge and assume, but one should never jump to conclusions regarding someone else, especially regarding their bodies. Focus on your health and living a happy, balanced life.
Fitness expert and YouTube Star
"You look like a skeleton"
"Look in the mirror, you look scary"
"Go eat a cheeseburger."
"Do you even eat?"
"You look anorexic."
Speaking as somebody who has lived with these comments publicly, even lost jobs over it, hearing these comments is just as hurtful and just as damaging. Watch my personal Why Are You So Skinny? interview.
Here's the thing: healthy looks different on everyone. No one has the authority to diagnose or determine health based on looks.Let's remember that the purpose of the body positive movement is to make every person feel comfortable in their skin regardless of their body size. This isn't a polarized issue between shaming "fat" and "skinny". It's not okay to objectify and dehumanize anyone simply because of their size or appearance. It's simple, just don't do it. Don't engage in it.
Join Katie, Healthy is the New Skinny and I, in the beginning of a new and wonderful movement! #stopbodyshame
Crossfitter, blogger and body image advocate
Body positive warrior, self love enthusiast, and ED Survivor
For me, the kind of body shaming I’ve experienced has been mostly accusations of attention-seeking. People assume that because I’m not as curvy as the majority of the BoPo community, that I don’t struggle with my body, or that I’m just fishing for compliments. I’ve been called fake; I’ve been told that because of the way I look, the work that I do undermines the real mission of body positivity; I’ve been accused of accepting promotions and sponsorship (I don’t) and benefiting financially from the plus-size community’s hardship - that one hurt me the most, actually.
But I always have to remember: the people who comment with negativity and hatred are struggling. Everyone’s experiences are different, and whatever it was that led up to that person making a hurtful comment on my photo is not my place to judge.
Body image advocate and blogger
One of my greatest concerns when it comes to my project @powertoprevail is the comment section. Not because I am afraid of them BUT I worry about my followers reading the comments and saying “SEE! That’s why I HATE my body!” or internalizing the comments because they relate to my image and words but see something contradictory in the comments. So I have made it a point to respond to any and all shaming in my own way. Yes, I can delete the comment as though it never existed but I want to make sure that I take the power of shame on and prove what The Force is stronger.
What does Star Wars have to do with body shaming? A while ago I wanted to help others understand why I am not afraid of putting my pictures up on the internet or the body shaming comments that comes with them. The first thing that popped into my head was a montage of scenes of Emperor Palpatine (really bad guy) and the lines he used to manipulate Anakin (Darth Vader) and Luke. When you’re watching the films you can clearly see his intent is to use fear/hate to control those he knows are more powerful than him. He gets to know their deepest fears and exploits them shamelessly. He knows that if he can control them then he stays in control. So folks on the internet who do not know or will ever meet me assume I am afraid of being called fat, ugly, disgusting, or rude for showing my body in public (all of which has happened) and wait eagerly for me to become upset or angry, but I don't. I simply respond with Star Wars references.
Speak the truth I do. May the force be with you.
Model and body image advocate
I've been all across the board with weight I've been unhealthy at 250 and unhealthy at close to 150. It wasn't until I found balance through a healthy lifestyle of not being extreme on either side of the spectrum that I can now say I'm happy and healthy. I've had people make negative comments in regards to my weight and my body all all stages but the important thing I remember is someone else's opinion of my body doesn't depict my self worth or value. People will always having something to but remember "your body your choice no one else has a say over you and your body, so let the hater hate.
Blogger, ED survivor, and activist
I've had acne for as long as I can remember. While I got a lot of my mom's wonderful qualities, I also inherited her skin.
My mother didn't want me living through the same bullying hell that she had gone through as a teenager, but by trying to ensure that I avoided her same fate, she monitored my skin extremely closely at home, which created a hyper-awareness about my looks that I've been unable to fully shake since elementary school. I still remember my first boyfriend dumping me in 7th grade because I had bad skin.
Before my site, Do The Hotpants, became a body positive hub, it was a simple fashion blog. But during those first few years of blogging, I was so terrified to show the "real me,” that I used Photoshop to hide every zit, line, and wrinkle.
While therapy and self-work has helped me get to a better place of self-love over the years, and I’ve since stopped using Photoshop on Do The Hotpants. Not only did my mom's body shaming experiences emotionally scar my her, it ensured that her insecurities and shame were passed down to me, permanently altering the way I viewed myself and my value in this world.
Model and body image advocate
My experience with body shaming started at a very young age. I was always bigger than my girl friends growing up, yet always seemed to be on a “diet” and eating less than them. It was very hard seeing this and trying to understand why I wasn’t built the way they were. I was teased until about 10th grade, but more recently with social media People love saying rude comments because they don’t have to say it to your face. Some people aren't aware, but I've gone through quite a health transformation, so when I see comments of people calling me fat on my images, they have no clue that I'm healthier than I once was! Thankfully I’m a confident woman now and these comments don’t affect me. I know my worth and will never let anyone attempt to make me feel bad about myself.
Fitness enthusiast and blogger
I've always been a confident person; however, growing up, my family was uncomfortable with me being overweight. Every time I ate a snack or went for seconds at dinner, I was told I was fat and didn’t need whatever it was that I wanted. After hearing that enough times I would get frustrated and upset. My mom would give in and let me eat snack or have seconds, but then my sister would call me names, like “cow,” “beast,” and “fatass.” It hurt growing up having to hear those words, because my body never bothered me. I would cry in my room, write in my diary that I wished I could stop being so hungry all the time and then brush it off and keep going. While it came from a place of love, it was still hurtful. As I got older, I learned that these words, were just that. Words. Yes, very hurtful ones, but they eventually stopped bothering me. I told myself that I was enough. I might have been a chubby kid, but I didn’t care, I loved myself anyways. Just remember people will say things about other’s bodies out of love and hate and no matter what it’s important to keep what you think of yourself in the forefront of your mind. When you love yourself and your body, no one can bring you down, no matter how hard they try!
Model and body image advocate
What kills me the most about body shaming is that I was incredibly fit and healthy when it started for me. I played soccer 5 days a week and ate a moderately healthy diet but I had big, strong and muscular legs. Because people shamed me for my strength and the size of my legs, I became self-conscious and was looking for any possible way to become thiner. It was at this point that I resorted to unhealthy measures to try and make my body something that it wasn’t naturally built for. I snuck diet pills, I closet ate, I tried starving myself and the list just goes on and on, I tried everything. Nothing was ever good enough and nothing lasted long term. My weight constantly fluctuated but my self-esteem stayed at a constant low. After adjusting my own mindset I was able to put my health first and I’m finally confident enough to know that my body is strong and healthy just the way it is no matter how other people see it. I stay very active and I eat well but most of all, I feel good.
Public speaker and advocate for Alopecia awareness
Dietician and media personality
When I was curvier, people used to tell me "You'd be so much prettier if you lost some weight"! When I lost 25kg after recovering from binge eating disorder, the same people complained that I looked too skinny. I learned that you can't wait for someone else to approve of your body before you accept your own beauty. If you do, you'll be waiting forever. People who are insecure about their own body are the first to judge other people's weight. It's their body issue to deal with - not yours! I no longer wait for someone else to tell me I am beautiful or the 'correct' weight. I have become so comfortable in my body, my curves, my rolls, my imperfections and my innate beauty. My weight no longer defines who I am or dictates if I am beautiful enough. I know I will never be a supermodel but I'm vibrant and healthy and confident af, and I think there is something truly beautiful about that!
Model and body image advocate
I am so excited about the #stopbodyshame movement ! Working in the industry has really thickened my skin just based on the body shaming alone. When posting a photo of yourself on your social media, or when clients post photos of you - it opens a door for very insecure people to share their negative opinions. I have had countless negative comments about my weight, health, hair, face ..onetime someone even took a jab at my kneecaps. It used to really affect me in the early stages of my career, I used to be scared to post photos even if it was for work. It took a while, but I then realized that I have nothing to be ashamed of--the people doing the body shaming are the ones that are insecure and have the issues that stem from deep inside.
We all need to come together and stop body shame together!
Body image advocate on health journey
I was a teenager in the late 80s/early 90s, so plus size "fashion" did not exist. The "plus size section" was usually one circular rack in the middle of the women's section at Kohl's, Target, Sears, Kmart, etc. I basically had those racks to choose from, or sometimes I shopped in the men's section because those clothes ran bigger. One day when I was in high school, I was wearing a bright orange shirt tucked into a pair of jeans. I walked into the lunchroom and grabbed my tray as I looked for my friends, I walked past a table of football players. One of them got everyone's attention and started singing super loudly , "Here COMES THE SUN, little darling" because I was "big" and was wearing an orange shirt. Everyone who heard him started laughing and I was so embarrassed. It hurt at the time, but it's sort of interesting to look back on now...since my nickname is Sunshine. I didn't have a voice then, but I certainly do now. I want all of us who are in a role to influence the younger generation to take a stand, and stop the body shaming cycle. The things that happened to us growing up that made us feel badly about our bodies were awful - but let's turn it into a positive. Talk to the girls that you have in your lives. Even talk to the dads and brothers about the fact that jokes about someone's body can last a lifetime, even if they're only teasing. Quit talking negatively about your body in front of these impressionable kids. They see someone they look up to unhappy with their body, and it just passes on the cycle of poor relationships with their bodies . Maybe for life.
Fitness enthusiast on health journey
I feel as though body shaming has been a part of my everyday life ever since I could remember. Of course there are the days when I’m feeling fab and I think no one can touch me but those days are sometimes few and far between. I constantly have to jerk myself out of that body shaming mindset because, let’s be real, we do it to ourselves way more than other people do it to us. I’ve experienced body shaming while at the gym, while hanging out with friends, and when I’m alone. The thing about it is, society thinks body shaming is completely normal and we’ve been brainwashed to think the same. I think it when I’m at a restaurant “Better get the salad, don’t want anyone commenting on my food choice not being a healthy one,” or shopping for clothes, “I can’t wear that, people will think I’m trying too hard because I’m a big girl.” It’s everywhere, you see it on the covers of magazines or on the sides of buses, “How to get rid of that unwanted belly fat?” or “The trimmer, fitter, better you in 10 days!” It’s crazy how it’s so normal for you to think you aren’t good enough for societies standards just because your body is different. What I find myself doing the most is comparing myself to others and when I do, it only makes my life harder. I try and overcome my own body shaming days by focusing on my accomplishments. I focus on how successful I am at my workplace, my education, how kind I am to my friends and family or even how far I’ve progressed with my health and fitness journey. Everyone is entitled to a bad day but in order to fix it you must fix your mentality. I’ve learned to focus on me and my life because it’s the only one I’ve got and I want to make sure I make the most of it!