Sarah (Yoo Jeong) Hong/ Chadwick International School 11th Grade
Fat shaming is a practice of making critical, potentially humiliating comments about a person’s body, size, or weight. It’s become one of the most significant problems in our generation, primarily due to the unrealistic portrayals of beauty from the media. Whenever we turn on the television or open a magazine, commercials or articles of women with a “perfect” and “attractive” body are a dime in a dozen. However, what makes a “perfect body”? According to internationally popular magazines, women with slim bodies and those who fit a size zero are the standard. Thus, the whole universe has created a norm that one must have the “perfect body” to be beautiful, and anyone who does not fit the norm cannot be beautiful. Although we may be unaware of it, we all have been affected by this standard. Fat shaming creates a negative influence on everybody, thus we must strive to end this harmful act.
Unfortunately, many have become body shamers due to the media nowadays. We use filters and face tunes to make our face look “prettier.” We take a million selfies only to find the “prettiest” one. We are anxious about the comments that tell us how “pretty” or not “pretty” our photos are. We read articles that sell us celebrities’ “dramatic weight loss secrets.” We look up to famous figures who have gone through multiple cosmetic surgery procedures. This unrealistic standard and goal makes people, especially young people, feel ashamed by the fact that they can not meet this standard.
Furthermore, NBC news recently uploaded a video on Youtube titled “Donald Trump’s Long History Of Body Shaming.” The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, denigrates women, naming women he dislikes as “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals.” He disregards Rosie O’Donnell as having a “fat ugly face.” He bashes Kim Kardashian by claiming she has gotten “large” over the years, and therefore “shouldn’t dress like she weighs 120 pounds.” Moreover, the widely known president claims that Kim Kardashian has a “terrible body,” but her “fat ass” can cover it.
Such damaging remarks made by the elected head of a country form a society where people believe body shaming is “normal.” Representative figures of countries must not portray unrealistic representations of the “ideal woman.” Fat shaming must be stopped. I, personally, was one of the people who witnessed a person fat shaming another. On October, I had a reservation at a very famous hair salon in Apgujeong. As soon as the treatment started, I overheard the head stylist talking to one of the new stylists. She reprimanded the new intern for not wearing a size 2. The head stylist joked around with her friends and remarked “Aren’t all girls suppose to wear a size 2? Are you even a girl?” I questioned my ears; did I hear that correctly? I could not believe how a salon with such a fat-phobic stylist was ranked as one of the top hair salons in Korea. I saw how uncomfortable and offended the new intern felt. She could not stand up for herself, as it was her first week at this new job.
After an hour, I ran into an intern who was crying in the bathroom. Through this experience, I learned that one’s simple-minded actions and words could significantly influence others. My parents taught me never to let words hurt us, but at times, words can break an individual, especially if it is about one’s physical appearance. Hence, the practice of insulting or judging the body of others must end- not only in Korea but everywhere around the world as well.
The unreasonable beauty industry and the low self esteems of these teenagers combined bring the perfect storm. In a survey of international high school adolescents, more than 59 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys were trying to lose weight by eating less food. Almost 18 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys admitted that they have gone without food for 24 hours or more, just to lose a few kilograms. Consequently, nearly 95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
To stop the emotional, physical, and mental pain caused by fat shaming, we must collectively take immediate action to prevent the problem from intensifying. As the idiom goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Notably, before trying to change the widespread media’s image of a “perfect body,” I believe that we must stop fat shaming ourselves first. Firstly, we need to stop the self-talk that puts down both your body and your self-esteem. Although we may think that these thoughts are only going through in our own heads, that’s not the case. If we allow this kind of negative internal thinking, studies show that we are more inclined to express it externally. The ball is in your court; make your mind a fat-shaming free zone by taking steps to reduce self-fat shaming. For instance, try giving yourself a penalty of putting $1 in a jar whenever you judge your own body. That way, you can save your negative thoughts as well as money! When you are comfortable in your own skin, you will be much more confident to stand up for others as well. Whenever you hear someone talk about you or another person’s body, comment upon it and say, “that is very rude and hurtful towards those people, it is not right to say that.” That way, you are taking an initiative to fight for those who are neither confident nor comfortable in their own body.
We are not Donald Trump. We should not discriminate and denigrate others based on how they look or weigh. We should be motivating, supporting, and encouraging each other to live a healthier life both physically and mentally. Let us help each other realize that being “as big as a horse” is not an insult, but are merely characteristics which corroborate your uniqueness.
<Sarah (Yoo Jeong) Hong/ Chadwick International School 1