Tejal’s Last Word: Society to blame for body shaming

ULM Hawkeye

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Now is about the time people can confidently say if they’ve followed through with their new year’s resolution or not.

You either quit smoking in the last three months or you’re still masking the smell of your breath with spearmint gum when your mom comes to visit.

You GPA is either out of the danger zone or it has reached the point of no return.

As someone who frequents the gym, I catch a glimpse of “my resolution is to lose weight before summer” in action.

I’ve watched the same people struggle and still come back for more every single day and they’re finally reaching a place where the gym is comfortable.

They’re excited to push themselves and try new things, even if they find they’re not strong enough yet because they know they will be one day.

The gym is a place they look forward to coming to after a long day of classes or a tiresome day at work.
These are victories I see in other people because they are the victories I’ve seen in myself throughout a four year fitness journey. A journey that

I’m still and will be forever taking.

So you can imagine how much it upsets me to watch thin, makeup-heavy, I-refuse-to-sweat-because-it’s-dirty girls staring at heavy women fighting to breathe after a run.

It upsets me just as much as watching body building men scoff at weaker guys struggling to finish that last squat.

Body shaming is just as present around us as it is on the internet and in magazines. It exists because we allow it to.

We want to tell people it’s okay to be big, small, short or tall, but judge them when they take action and begin working toward the person they want to be.

Not every girl wants a thigh gap. Not every guy has an interest in looking like The Rock. Sometimes eating well and going to the gym isn’t about wanting to be a Victoria’s Secret model.

It’s about being healthy, happy and having a little more energy and a little less stress.
And that’s the way it should be.

Stop shaming people out of leaving the gym or in to putting tank tops and shorts back on the rack. Stop pointing at pudgy and proud, shirtless men and giggling at big, beautiful women in their bikinis.

Is addressing and overcoming your own insecurities so hard that the only thing you can think to do is spend your time making a spectacle of others’?

We can only blame the media so much for setting the standards for a “good” body.

At some point, we have to take responsibility for telling ourselves and each other that there is such a thing as a “good” body.

We have to take responsibility for spreading the understanding that every body has a “good” body because every single one is different and so is the person inside of it.

That begins at the gym. It starts at school, the grocery store, the mall and at the beach.

I’m not saying being unhealthy is the equivalent of being happy or that it’s okay for people to forego their health for the next fat packed, delicious meal.

I’m just saying that each person deserves a chance to better themselves without being discouraged by complete strangers.
We can’t expect the standards for men and women to be broken if we keep reinforcing them.