If you are a part of a workplace where your physical appearance is made fun of or you are expected to dress a certain way to fit in, then, my friend, you are in the company of ruthless body shamers who only have one big goal: to crush your self-worth. But hey, there are ways to put these body shamers in place.
Watch this Kool Kanya video on how to deal with a body shamer at work!
I once wore a deep-neck peplum top at an office party. My female coworker walked towards me to tell me that my top wasn’t really ‘highlighting my oranges’. Apparently, they suited women with ‘heavier developments’.
As embarrassing as this was, I snapped at her and said, “At least I don’t have to deal with boob-sweat! Plus, I think I’m comfortable and look great!”
Body shaming is so casually done that most of the time, people get away with it even before you realise that you have been mocked. So while you read this piece, here’s a well-defined take on what body-shaming actually is:
Body shaming is the act of mocking or criticizing someone for their physical appearance. Height, hair, facial features, body structure, body stance, and weight are all aspects of our physical appearance.
4 Body-Shaming Comments That Were A Regular In My Life
Body shamers at work have eyes that are no less than good-quality telescopes. They polish it to notice what you do, what you wear, and how you look every day. They are often aware of your weaknesses and highlight them all to hide their own.
I have been body-shamed a couple of times across various workplaces, and some comments carved a permanent space in my mind. They remind me of how toxic some co-workers can be, of the times I stood up and spoke for myself, and even of the times when I failed to. Feel free to relate:
- “I cannot believe you ate that whole meal!”
This is from the time I ordered my favorite Chinese bowl for lunch and enjoyed gorging on it. Does it really matter that I ate it all? I spent my own money, so it shouldn’t concern the colleague. Really.
- “Are you really okay wearing such tight clothes? Your body fat is so visible!”
Well yes, I have ‘thunder thighs’ if one were to label it. And I wore tight pants at work one day. I still fail to understand how it was that big of a deal.
- “You should really get your upper lips done. You look like a schoolboy with them!”
I have never gotten my upper lips done, and I don’t intend to either. Too bad.
- “You’re the face of our videos, please do something about your acne, or use beauty filters to hide them!”
The notion that a person needs to have spotless skin for a video to do well, is so disturbing.
How To Stop Body-Shaming Yourself
Words have weight, and your mind will believe what you feed it. We are so conditioned to accept the toxic beauty standards of society as ‘normal’ that we sometimes accept remarks from body shamers at work quietly. When a colleague tells us that we have put on weight, it kills our self-confidence. We’re expected to be like the Kardashians – not too big on the tummy, but the butt and boobs need to be dense.
Constantly asking your loved ones if you look fat, no matter what you wear, is the first step towards un-loving yourself. And we have all done that in pursuit of a flawless hourglass figure.
However, one of the most important steps to deal with body shamers at work is to first stop body shaming yourself. And here’s how you can avoid it:
1. Self-Affirmations > Self-Berating
Come to think of it, you will realise that it requires almost the same amount of energy and effort to say good things to yourself as it takes to deal with negative remarks. So try and invest your energy in doing something that uplifts you.
Practice some self-affirmations at work to remind yourself to love you for who you are, and not what your colleagues want you to become.
2. Believe That You Are Picture-Perfect Too
The models and actresses that look picture-perfect also earn their bread and butter through it. They have a whole army of people working on them to make them look flawless. You don’t. So embrace your natural features, and be comfortable in your skin.
3. Work Out, But For Yourself Only
Indulging in physical activity doesn’t just keep you distracted, but it also releases happy hormones in your body. These hormones, a.k.a, endorphins, can make you feel good about yourself.
Don’t be on a mission to lose calories because that colleague fat-shamed you, do it for yourself! Lose those calories, only if you want to, and only if it makes you feel confident from within.
4. Life Is Much More Than Serving Looks
It is time we started embracing our personality at work, rather than trying to fit into mainstream boxes built by co-workers around us. Try to surround yourself with colleagues who are non-judgemental, and help you grow.
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- 5 Essential Self-love Languages That You Need To Master In 2021
- On Body Positivity, Blogging And Breaking Stereotypes With Dr. Falguni
4 Way To Shut Down Body-Shamers In The Workplace
What have body shamers even given us apart from shattered self-confidence and a crappy mood? Is it not on us to put them in their place at work? If you’re doubting whether you can do this, don’t.
Because if a timid personality like me can, so can you. Just bookmark these hacks to be in a better place:
1. Stop Acknowledging Their Comments
Communication dies when two parties are not actively engaging, right? So the next time your colleague tells you that you look weird in the dress you are wearing, or points out your acne, reply curtly with an ‘okay’, instead of engaging in a dialogue.
When you don’t pay heed to their remarks, they will eventually get your message and move away.
2. Call The Shamers Out
Calling body shamers out takes courage. And if you feel ready and comfortable in doing so, do not hesitate to do it. For instance, if a female colleague tells you that your kurta looks too tight on you, or the size of your breasts is too tiny, call her out.
They might respond by saying that it was a harmless joke, but stick to your ground and tell them that it wasn’t funny and that you did not appreciate their comment.
3. Be A Rebel (With A Cause)
When my former colleague asked me to get my upper lips done (because conventionally only men are supposed to have hair growth there), I let my upper lip hair grow for three months instead. Why would I want to go through the pain of hair removal if I am not comfortable?
Keep wearing that tight kurta, keep eating your favorite spicy and greasy Chinese, and stay away from hair removal if you want to. Because you do you.
4. Talk To Your HR/Manager
Sometimes, when you keep ignoring a body shamer’s comments, it turns into workplace bullying. They might say hurtful things every day, thinking that you are fine with it. Comments on your physical appearance might be normal for the body shamer, but they can affect your mental health.
Read up on company policies regarding bullies and report to your HR or manager about the incidents. Your action will induce courage in other employees to file a complaint too, and it might take your body shamer down a notch.
There is no dearth of body shamers at workplaces, colleges, and schools. It is easy to feel thwarted and crippled by harsh comments that are told as ‘jokes’. However, if there is one thing I have learned in my career, it is that if you don’t stand up, show up, and speak up for yourself, no one else will.
If women begin to show a tiny bit of courage and call their body shamers out at workplaces (or any place for that matter), the problem will be nipped in the bud.
Meanwhile, if you have ever been body shamed at work, tell us how you chose to deal with it. We’re always looking for inspiration!
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