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“Body Bullying” | Childish Behavior In Adult Bodies

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Bullying, it has become a buzz word in today’s society.  Parents and educators everywhere are becoming more aware of just how dangerous bullying can be among children.  There have been several cases where children have committed suicide, or even retaliated and hurt other children, because of experiencing incessant bullying.  When you look up the word “bullying” on the internet you find images of children being mean, making fun of, and harassing other children.  It’s a good thing that we grow up and mature past all of that negative, childish behavior and learn to respect other people right?  WRONG!

The truth is that bullying does happen among adults.  There are plenty of adults in this world that use their perceived positions of privilege to degrade, harass, and abuse other adults.  The saddest thing about adult bullying, is that most of the time it is acceptable. “Body Bullying” is one of the most acceptable forms of adult harassment.  What is “Body Bullying”? It is when one person uses words, gestures, or even physical contact to harass another person in regards to their physical appearance or abilities.  It’s actually a pretty simple concept to understand: you have a body, I don’t approve of it, so I’m going to harass you about it because I feel that I’m better than you and I have the right to do so.  

Now, I already know that some people may feel like this is going way to far with the “bullying” issue we have in our society, but I completely disagree. Whenever we allow, condone, or approve the mistreatment of any person or group of people, simply because of their appearance or abilities we hindering our social evolution.  In the same way that entire races and cultures of people have been harassed for their skin color, and international attention had to be directed towards the issue, we must take any forms of “Body Bullying” with the same seriousness.  Every single person in this world deserves to exist within their own body and skin and not be harassed for how they look.

In our society it is highly frowned upon to make fun of those with mental, developmental, or physical handicaps.  However, it is perfectly acceptable and even popular to make fun of a person’s weight, height, size, shape, body build, etc.  I believe that this is because most people believe that a person can change most of their physical appearance if they wanted to.  Therefore, if a person has a physical appearance that does not meet the “social standard of beauty” than he or she must not care about himself or herself.  Here are some common thoughts that are part of the “Body Bully” mindset:

1. If you are “overweight” than you are lazy, unhealthy, and don’t care about your body.  You need to eat less and work out more so that you can look like the rest of “us”.

2. If you are short, you are unfortunate to not be as tall as the rest of “us”.  We find you to be “cute” or “funny” but definitely not handsome or beautiful. You should dress to look taller and more assertive.  We really don’t take you seriously as an adult and find it perfectly okay to disrespect you as a man or woman. We doubt your strength and physical ability.

3. If you don’t have an athletic, model, or perfect physique then we don’t find you to be attractive or sexy.  We assume that you don’t have confidence or self esteem. If you do, then we don’t understand why.  We don’t approve of you wearing any clothing that displays your “unacceptable” body shape and we advise that you cover it up until you look like “us”.

These are just a FEW examples. I definitely could go on with other ways that the “Body Bully” mindset is prevalent in our society.  However, I want you to simply have a sense of awareness after reading this.  Take notice of what you see around you on television, at work, and even in the things that you say and do to others.  Are you contributing to the “Body Bully” climate in our society or are you helping to uplift and embrace other human beings around you?  I’d love to hear your comments and feedback on this topic.  Maybe you have had an experience with a “Body Bully” in your own life.  Maybe you have been the “Body Bully”.  What are your thoughts?


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Ivy LaArtista

CEO & Founder at See Body. Love Self.™
Ivy Cooper, The Body Relationship Coach™ is a professional health coach and body image expert. She offers education, empowerment, and encouragement to help people build health, loving relationships with their body and self.
  • http://drmarctagon.com/ Marc A.

    I’ve been a victim of bullying and that has made me more sensitive to the plights of others especially in regard to being overweight though I fully believe you don’t have to be a victim to sympathize. I have been guilty of criticizing others that I’ve seen on TV and although it’s done in jest, it’s no better even if they can’t hear me. Making someone the butt of a joke or insults because of their appearance is wrong in any form and I agree with what you said here. It’s a serious issue that’s just as prevalent among adults as it is children.

    • / Ivy LaArtista

      Thank you for sharing your perspective, Marc. You bring up a good point that often teasing others may be done with the intentions of jest. However, we may not realize how damaging it may be to another person. It’s definitely something that I am more aware of and I’m training myself daily to speak more positive words about others. It’s an evolution process for sure!

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