Stephanie Pallay –
“I like you better now that you’ve lost all that weight.” “You’re so pretty… for an Indian.” “It’s not like you have a personality to fall back on.”
These are only three of the hundred or so responses I received after I asked, “What is the worst comment you have heard regarding your body image?” The responses ranged from sexuality, to being “too” skinny, to not wearing “enough” make-up, and they just kept coming. Everyone had some kind of story or experience, each one more heartbreaking or cringeworthy than the next.
The question begs to be asked; why is shaming so prevalent in today’s society? Sophomore Brandon Coniglio says that, “We as humans feel it’s necessary to compare ourselves to others, and if we feel they are inferior to us, we tend to shame them because they’re different.” In our society, especially in our age group, we tend to view “different” with a negative connotation. We judge people for what they wear, who they date, and even the way they talk. As a college student, we are bombarded with hundreds of people every day, and without knowing them, we form opinions. “There is a lot of slut shaming, especially via social media,” says junior Frankie Kimmell. “Males and females both want to hook up with each other, but if they don’t, they’re called a prude. If they do, they’re a slut, so it’s a no-win situation.”
The shaming is not limited, however, to slut shaming. People are shamed for how much or how little they eat, if they’re not “hot” enough, or if their bodies don’t match up to other people’s standards of beauty. It isn’t just limited to college students or women or any other single demographic. No one is safe from being shamed. I personally have been ridiculed for being Asian, being a female athlete, and being diagnosed with a mental illness.
The truth of the matter is that as much as we would all love to play the victim, we are all responsible for fueling the fire as well. Think about it. We’ve all seen someone we know or maybe even don’t know and have passed judgment on them. We have all sat behind the shield of the computer screen and posted something we’re less than proud of. We are all guilty. That doesn’t mean we can’t remedy the situation though.
When interviewed, Kimmell, Coniglio, and sophomore Patricia Davis all agreed that shaming will never fully disappear. “You can’t control others around you, but maybe you can influence them,” says Davis. She went on to say, “The only thing you can do is make sure you are being kind or standing up for someone if you see it happening.” I agree. While we can’t control others, we can keep ourselves in check. We have to realize that our seemingly harmless actions have magnanimous consequences. For example, suicide rates have been climbing due to cyberbullying.
So the next time you’re about to hit send, really think about what you’re saying. Think past all of the preconceived notions you might have and consider the consequences. Everyone has something going on in their life that you may know nothing about. Please re-think that next subtweet or group text, and try being kind. You might just prevent someone from taking a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem.