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Breaking free from the chains of body shaming: Unveiling the struggles and triumphs of real people

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In a world where societal expectations loom large, the pressure to conform to idealized beauty standards has reached a boiling point. Body shaming, a pervasive issue that knows no bounds, inflicts wounds that cut deep into the hearts and minds of countless individuals.

From celebrities scrutinized in the spotlight to everyday people navigating the labyrinth of self-acceptance, the claws of body shaming have left no one untouched.

I, for one, have been a victim of body shaming. This story not only explores the experiences of other victims but myself as well. I received hurtful remarks about my body, particularly my breasts being larger than my buttocks and this experience used to break me, leaving me in tears and questioning my self-worth.

However, beneath the surface of those hurtful words, I found strength from within. It was not an easy path, but I realized that my worth is not defined by others’ opinions. God made me the way I am, and I am beautiful in my uniqueness.

I strongly believe I am not the only one faced with this challenge and for this reason, in this eye-opening article, we will delve into the raw and unfiltered experiences of other people who have confronted body shaming head-on. Their stories are powerful testimonies of resilience, strength, and the courage to break free from the suffocating chains of societal judgment.

As we unravel the multifaceted layers of body shaming, challenge conventional norms, and empower readers to embrace themselves with love and acceptance in a world that often seems determined to tear them down. It’s time to liberate ourselves from the shackles of body shaming and reclaim the right to celebrate our uniqueness, one story at a time.

The first person who shared her experience is a 27-year-old lady who goes by the name Tettehkyi. Though quite a lengthy one, I believe her case is relatable to many.

“Everything began with my immediate circle shortly after graduating from high school. My friends used pills, drugs, and supplements to gain weight in the “right place.” They began to comment on how ‘boney and immature’ I appeared because I refused to ‘gain weight,’ and because I looked like a child when I was with them. My neighbors didn’t help much either; they would make nerve-racking remarks to me as I walked or passed by. 

 My confidence and self-esteem plummeted dramatically after I entered a relationship. Being constantly compared to other girls and told, ‘If you see the girls in my DM’s,’ took a toll on my self-esteem and worth for four years. ‘You have no ass,’ he continued, ‘look at your breast,’ and ‘do you check yourself in the mirror?’ Hearing all of this from my then-boyfriend, someone I loved, was upsetting. Mind you, the longer I stayed, the deeper the pit became and I stayed because I didn’t think any man would ever want me. 

Fast forward, I left that relationship because my mental health was suffering and the whole seeking validation from men thing was affecting my self-confidence. 

Even though I believe I made the right decisions, body shaming has taken a toll on me. I suffer from social anxiety, and I am afraid of being seen because I am afraid of being judged. I am constantly in my head, and as a result, I find myself hiding (wanting to be in my little corner). I’m afraid to speak up, and I get very shaky when I’m talking to people.

My coping mechanisms are walking with all the confidence in the world; as the saying goes, ‘fake it till you make it’. I don’t make friends or try to get to know people. Will I ever be able to reclaim my former self? Let’s see,” she shared.

This issue of body shaming, I must say, is not always from external parties. Sometimes, in our corners, we look down on our bodies, refusing to appreciate what we have. Speaking to Joyce, a 27-year-old lady, we see how she struggles to accept her body as it is.

“I have not been body-shamed before. When I look at myself and compare my body to others, I feel some way. I still do that to myself. I like to compare myself to my friends and they’ll end up telling me ‘I’m nice’. I look down on myself a lot. Quite recently, I saw a beautiful lady and quickly tucked my stomach in. This behavior limits my socialization level. I do not eat too much and I make friends but not with everyone. For me, it is a matter of time but because I do it to myself, I don’t think I can get out of it,” she stated. 

Now having spoken to two other ladies in addition to myself, I reached out to gentlemen as well to prove that this social canker is no respecter of gender. 

John Jerry Dadzie, a 23-year-old guy fell victim to body shaming. According to him, “Being overweight as a kid, you would get the whole ‘You weigh more than a cement bag’, ‘Don’t sit on that chair, you will break it’, ‘Your stomach like World Bank’ amongst other crazy inventions. It made me less social and quite conscious of things like clothing. However, now, I really don’t care what someone says about my body. As an educated person, I know how to just hear and not pay attention to it because most of the time it’s out of jealousy or they just lack manners.”

Another 23-year-old Benjy Nunoo said that “Back in junior high school, my classmates occasionally teased me about the size of my head. They are like ‘hwe ne te tenten be ne naso ketewa bi’ (look at his long head and small ears). At that moment, deep inside, you feel hurt because everyone laughs and the comment makes you question yourself. It did affect me at that moment and kind of deducted points from my self-esteem but I am grown now so such comments do not affect me anymore. I guess you can say we were kids and worried about the little things that didn’t matter.”

According to 30-year-old Michael Ofosu, “My experience with body shaming spanned between my junior and senior high school days. I wasn’t as tall and built as my age mates and colleagues hence I was always teased when it came to my height. Funny comments like ‘Go back to your juniors’ were an everyday thing. Some teachers also gave me funny names because of my stature and height. I didn’t let this get to me because of the mindset I had developed and the fact that I had accepted the kind of person that I am, hence, treating their comments as irrelevant.”

 

As if this is not enough, body shaming is a struggle for even some of the celebrities and public figures we all admire and look up to. Entering the world of celebrities, Eno Barony some years back, in an interview on the Delay Show stated that she came to a point where she accepted that she was ugly because of the way she was treated. However, she was able to overcome it through Lydia Forson’s post on Twitter. Here, we see the relevance of having people to look up to when faced with certain difficulties. 

Lydia Forson is a strong advocate of body positivity. She is not ashamed of her body and encourages people to embrace themselves without being scared of and affected by what critics have to say.

So yes! Body shaming is a reality that lives with us but I encourage every victim to build courage, shut the comments down, work on their self-image, and be more embracing of the nature of their bodies. I may not have overcome the insecurity body shaming placed on me but each day I wake up, I’m given the opportunity to step out there, confident in who I am and what I have because, remember, you only live once.  

By Esther Aryee|3xtra.tv|Ghana

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