Body-Shaming: Ethical or Not?

What is Body-Shaming?

Body-Shaming involves one person creating their own specifically exclusive vision of ‘the perfect body type’ and enforcing the same standards on anyone around them.

Who is affected by this?

Body-Shaming affects everyone who is prejudiced against, be it mentally, physically, or socially. These are the three methods of Body-Shaming.

What are these methods?

  • Effects on the Mind

The mental method is when someone instils a sense of Body Dysmorphic Disorder [BDD], deteriorating their levels of self-confidence and overall happiness.

“Wait, what’s BDD?”

BDD is a mental health disorder wherein the subject undergoes severe turmoil regarding their physical appearance and may not be able to concentrate elsewhere. This state of mind is highly likely to affect their mental health in terms of heightened levels of anxiety, increased panic attacks, or even attempts of self-harm in some cases.

BDD inculcates a feeling of worthlessness in the subject, exposing them to the criticisms of the world along with a mind that keeps convincing them that they are the only imperfect being in their environment, which has severe repercussions if not addressed earlier on.

There is not enough awareness about the threats to our health or even the existence of BDD. Several people around the world suffer from this life-altering disorder in silence, because of the severe stigmatization of mental health issues, especially in underdeveloped countries.

The solutions to disorders similar or parallel to BDD all have roots in the acceptance of one’s own body and unleashing one’s true potential, devoid of any expectations formed by oneself or others.

  • Effects on the Body

The physical method of Body-Shaming usually comes into effect earlier on in one’s life, but not necessarily. Two especially prominent forms of physically ill-effective body-shaming are Bullying and the inculcation of Eating Disorders, usually rooted in one’s experiences in one’s childhood.

Bullying, from the perspective of Body-Shaming, can be defined as one seemingly physically stronger and/or influential peer constantly criticizing and pressurizing another due to the way they look.

“How does bullying affect the victim?”

When bullied, especially in the years of physical and mental development of an individual, one has high chances of losing a large proportion of one’s self-esteem and confidence to face the world. This is also very likely to cause trust issues, varying levels of anxiety and an extremely plausible case of an Eating Disorder [ED].

An ED is caused due to an array of reasons, but it results in extreme eating habits and, in some cases, the cultivation of an ED as a lifestyle. [For example, Bulimia Nervosa, an ED wherein the subject expels the food they consume a short while after consuming it, usually through regurgitation, more commonly known as puking or heaving.

There are various eating disorders, ranging from Binge-Eating Disorders and Pica to Rumination Disorders and Avoidant or Restrictive Eating Disorders.


Eating Disorders are very likely to delve into the social lives of the subjects quite easily.

Certain EDs end up limiting an individual’s eating habits in public, thereby affecting their social life in the process. Since our eating habits define our nutritionary preferences and presence in certain social situations such as dinners, parties etc., those undergoing severe EDs [be it Binge-Eating Disorders or Restrictive Eating Disorders, or any other severe ED] often opt out of attending them, thus affecting their connections in the real-world and placing their chances of social survival under jeopardy, to an extent. These choices then go on to cause a chain-reaction-like series of events wherein the subject inculcates an introverted social attitude and these newfound and seemingly comfortable “habits” further incorporate this introverted social nature into their personality.


What can be done about this?

Body-Shaming is a phenomenon that usually begins at an early age but is (usually) unintentionally outsourced into developing learning environments (classrooms consisting of adolescents) by adults (parents, guardians and/or teachers).

In most cases, access to therapy sessions, especially conducted by ED specialists, help address and mitigate the negative effects of the trauma caused by BDD.


What if therapy doesn’t work?

Many people think that the best way to mitigate the bad effects of BDD and EDs is to change the way we look – either through diet or stringent exercise regimes. This, however, is almost never satisfactory due to the human tendency to strive for perfection at all times.

Therapy may not “heal” an individual wholly, as most of the work involved in therapy is dependent on the response of the subject, which is therefore totally dependent on how serious the subject is about the process of therapy.

One concept, however, that can help eradicate the existence of a phenomenon such as body-shaming, is dedicated and serious awareness drives on the effects of experiences with bullying on an individual in their future. It needs to be explicitly stated to the younger generations that bullying does no good, and often leads to severe consequences that almost always get out of hand.



There is no guaranteed way to ‘cure’ the effects of Body-Shaming per se. There are ways to prevent further occurrences of the same and ways to help cope with trauma experienced in the past, however. Body-Shaming is a form of stigmatization that is turning our society as a group of beings into a toxic environment devoid of integral elements of happiness such as inclusion, acceptance and respect.



Learn about 6 common types of eating disorders and their symptoms.

“Learn About 6 Common Types Of Eating Disorders And Their Symptoms.”. Healthline, 2020, Accessed 26 Dec 2020

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Written by Hrushitaa

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