Body Image

Holding Yourself Accountable for Body-Shaming


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This month, Libero is focusing on accountability. We’re exploring what it means to be accountable and to whom we need to be accountable with to assure successful recovery. But accountability is not just about our reliance on others; in order to create a better, healthier life, we need to hold ourselves accountable for moments we may not necessarily be proud of, such as those where we engage in body-shaming.

I try my best to put my advice into practice.

This includes eating intuitively, loving my body, and refraining from judging others based on appearances. That being said, I’m not perfect–none of us are.

We’ve all done this before. You walk down the street and see someone whose appearance is very different from what you are used to. Maybe this person has electric blue hair or rocks a pair of platform shoes. Maybe this person’s body is a different size than you are accustomed to seeing. Immediately, you begin to make assumptions about their character, and you quickly feel ashamed for doing so.

Before getting upset with yourself, remember we live in a society that condones doing this.

Unfortunately, from mass media to everyday conversation, we are taught to believe stereotypes are acceptable and even normal.

Given this condition, how do we hold ourselves accountable for making assumptions about others’ lives based on appearance, and how can we change this kind of thinking?

The first step for me is always recognition.

If I begin to assign characteristics to someone based on body type or appearance, I find it is best to stop and peacefully recognize my thoughts. In doing so, I hold myself accountable for my judgement without making myself feel ashamed for doing so.

Shame and guilt rarely serve as a successful form of activism.

Next, I like to ask why I thought negatively about someone.

Is this person simply different from what I’m used to? Could I be jealous? I allow myself to take the focus away from this person and onto my own thinking. No longer am I judgmental of someone’s appearance, but analytical of my own insecurities and predispositions.

Lastly, I like to turn this potentially negative moment into a positive reflection.

If I found myself jealous of someone’s appearance, it’s time to ask myself why I would be envious of someone else if I claim to truly love myself. Or, if I found myself taken back by an eclectic quality–be it electric blue hair or platform shoes–I turn my reaction into a feeling of deep, sincere respect.

It’s undoubtedly difficult to dress, act, or live outside the norm. To have the confidence and self-assuredness to be different is something that needs to be praised, not shamed. Being different incorporates an element of self-love that is difficult to reach. Discouraging that is not only harmful, but also unproductive in a grander pursuit of acceptance, love, and peace.

By holding yourself accountable to your own judgments, you are committing yourself to a culture of self-love.

I’d like to stress that I am not condoning nor accepting stereotyping. Our perceptions of others’ appearances are largely based on our own privilege and how we understand the intersection of identities, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class.

Reactive stereotyping is not okay, and it is our goal, as a global community, to actively fight against these oppressive thoughts.

I am advocating that it is every individual’s responsibility to recognize this kind of thinking and automatically fight against it.

I believe it is your job to turn a potentially harmful or negative thought into a positive moment of respect, worth, and love. Holding yourself accountable for your thoughts and actions means you are reaching a new state of understanding of both yourself and the world around you.

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