Often you hear stuffs like: ‘She’s my idol! I love the way she looks, I want to look like her’; ‘I’m working hard to lose weight’; ‘slim is beauty’; ‘how on earth will my parents give me those tribal marks?’; ‘She has big tummy’; ‘why those stretch marks’; She is pretty but short’; ‘I use lightening cream’; ‘that soap will make you look darker’; ‘she got small butt’, etc. Beauty centres or beauty therapists are found in many major cities in Africa particularly Nigeria. Their business object is the same everywhere; how to make you look more beautiful than you presently are. Social media and the craze for ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ have helped the beauty industry increase geomatrically in the last decade with Euromonitor International putting the estimate of Nigeria’s beauty and personal market at US$3 billion.
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But what is it about your looks that will make you want to expend fortune to change or that makes you hate yourself? It is more often than not an expression of body-shaming. According to Erika Vargas, an Adolescent IOP Clinician at Walden’s Braintree Clinic, body shaming manifests through: ‘criticising your own appearance, through a judgment or comparison to another; criticizing another’s appearance in front of them; and criticizing another’s appearance without their knowledge’. When you are not satisfied with your physical body and goes to compare same with that of another, it is body shaming. When you joke with another’s person’s body or make them feel bad by making reference to any part of their body, it is body shaming. So, body shaming is either an idea of you judging yourself on the basis of your physique or physical features or another person’s idea of judging you on the basis of your physique or physical features.
One of the most noticeable effects of body-shaming is inferiority complex, which is a psychological malady that breeds feeling of general inadequacies, doubts about yourself, feeling of not measuring up to standard and results in your loss of confidence. Women that suffers inferiority complex resulting from body shaming are always looking for validation, they take too seriously people’s opinion, love flattery, hardly take corrections or constructive criticism, withdraw from people and find faults with others. We can extend this further that in this digital age, signs of body-shaming cum inferiority complex are seen in the excessive and many a time unnecessary craving for breast or butt enlargement, abdominoplasty and skill toning; obsession with public perception about physical looks and the sometimes quiet and subtle competition among celebrities and wannabes for number of likes, comments and followers on their social media handles.
Do not be subdued by body shaming. To be is to remain a perpetual slave of physical looks. Allowing people define you or accepting and changing to look like the exact figure the public want of you is a needless job that will never result in your personal fulfilment. Natural endowments, talents, ideas and other inner attributes, which are of utmost importance and can be galvanised into profitable undertaking are unwisely thrown away or paid little attention to. Meanwhile, endless quest for perfect beauty, which is illusion and vain, is embarked upon. The most depressed people are mostly your idols and your very model for beauty! Within you lies great things, you are beautiful inside!
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It is fundamental to contain body shaming as it is both personal and external bullying and harmful. Same remedies have proven to work for both body shaming and inferiority complex. You have to first love and appreciate yourself as a unique being. Self-love builds self-worth and self-worth is self-confidence. Be quick to define yourself. It is dangerous to allow people define you, as they will often define you by what you should have been or what you are not. Turn deaf ears to negative comments. It is good to listen and appreciate every comment sincerely made. But do not let negative comments give you sleepless night. Avoid comparison. It is alright to draw inspiration from people ahead of you but by no way compare their physical features or achievements to yours. Lastly, raise your voice and join the campaign against body shaming. It is evil!
JERRY 'OBANS' OBANYERO is a Lawyer, Consultant, Content Creator and Writer. He is the Founder of YoungNigerian.com and writes articles and commentaries on law, politics, business, lifestyle and related issues. You can reach him on [email protected] or follow him on Twitter .