Be Aware of This Rising Menace – Body Shaming

By on Dec 31, 2015

Hello All,

We are officially in the last day of 2015. These years just seem to fly by faster every year, don’t they? I for one eagerly look forward to the prospective of spending quality time with the family during the holiday season; pretty sure, you do too!

Since most families do come together during this period, I thought it will be a great opportunity to discuss a rising trend which is of concern to all parents. You may have read of ‘body shaming’ which has been quite prevalent in the news for some time now. Body shaming (criticizing yourself or others because of some aspect of physical appearance) can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and criticism.  But when such videos or photos ridiculing an individual or a group for physical features, dress sense or clumsy moves are posted online, along with the laughs they also invite abuse and humiliating comments.

This has particularly taken off on social media with kids from a very young age joining in. Certainly this has manifested into a global concern, prompting popular Indian and international celebs to speak out against it in recent times.

Let’s get it straight, body shaming is NOT OK. It is a type of cyberbullying.

It reminds me of the ancient practice of stone throwing at a supposed convict. The body shaming victim is made to feel ashamed of oneself, as if he or she has committed a criminal offence.

 What you can do as a parent to stop body shaming?

  • Refrain from ridiculing people for their looks. Children are like flour, they can pick up habits they are exposed to, just like whatever shape the flour can take up when it’s kneaded. Kids can easily pick it up such behavior of body shaming themselves or others from friends or family and most times see nothing wrong in replicating that behaviour online
  • Guide your child on what to click and post online. Remind them that there may be consequences and online records can affect their future
  • Ask them to not tag people in their posts without permission and if absolutely needed then to share privately. Respecting privacy of others is an essential virtue
  • Make sure to monitor your child’s online activities. Children, encouraged by peer reactions, could participate in mass bullying without even realizing the harm it can cause the one being cyberbullied. Do keep a lookout for signs that indicating kids are picking up bad online habits
  • Help your kids understand that their life is not dependent on their social media presence. Hence approvals or criticism received on the social platforms eventually mean little.
  • Nurture good habits in your kids like you would nurture your own garden to take out unnecessary weed. Spend time with your children and their friends to get a sense of their beliefs and if they are participating in any ill advised habits. Encourage your child to support a body shamed victim instead of joining in. Make them understand the rampant effects it can have on one’s mind
  • Be a part of your child’s social media world so that you know if he or she is ever targeted. At the same time give him or her the required privacy
  • Install and activate a security software that offers parental controls and spend time understanding this feature

Remotely monitoring the activity of kids when they are online is a helpful activity. This makes parents aware if strangers try to connect with kids or if they even exchange inappropriate language or try accessing blocked sites. Do give it a try to understand your child’s online habits to ensure safety.

And remember our security mantra – STOP. THINK. SHARE.

Life is beautiful so say NO to body shaming!!

About the Author

Cybermum India

Anindita Mishra is McAfee’s Cybermum in India. A Pune-based freelance writer, teacher and devoted mother of two- Anindita has always been a vocal advocate for issues tied to children's welfare and development. Like many Indian parents, Anindita wants to make sure that her children are safe wherever they go, in the real or virtual world. ...

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