The diet that the famous singer Adele followed and led her to lose 44 kilos is the absolute topic of discussion lately, even more, when we are moving towards the upcoming festive season or summer holidays. The process of Adele’s changed body image raises two major issues:
The first one, and most obvious, deals exclusively with the process of weight loss, the characteristics of her diet, what exactly it contains, how healthy it is, how exactly it was done if, and how it can be replicated for everyone with the same results.
The second one, and most important in my opinion, which I will talk about in this piece, is about body shaming For those who are still not familiar with the term, body shaming is the feeling of shame that we feel for our body and its peculiarities, as well as how this feeling of shame determines our daily choices and decisions. It could apply to all kinds of bodies.
Body shaming includes daily common phrases such as “you ‘ve got some weight since I last saw you”, or “how much weight have you lost!”, but it also includes comments on excessive or insignificant hair growth in men and women, the presence or absence of visible muscles, as well as, what all these observations/comments imply about how such a body should be dressed and behave. Political correctness has also been addressed among healthcare providers and their “duty” to address body shaming with their patients.
Body shaming affects the entire population, of all ages, regardless of their sexual orientation. Body shaming encompasses all the shame caused to a person about the body image, weight, clothing, proportions, hair, and general looks. It is calculated that today body shaming may cause sickness not only to adults but also to children. The 56% of 2,000 respondents to a recent survey responded that they had received uncomfortable comments about their image during the past year.
Body shaming mainly occurs in people with bodies that are characterized by extra weight. In 2020, the stigma that accompanies not only the extra but also less weight in a body continues to exist and to determine a large percentage of everyday life actions and reactions. In view of World Obesity Day (March 4, 2020, #WorldObesityDay), body shaming is adding up to the stigma of all those who fight obesity worldwide.
Obesity is a disease with much more causes than what is superficially considered. It is a disease that requires multifactorial treatment, an individualized approach, and constant devotion to the problem by both the patient and the specialized health professional. The stigma that accompanies obesity is maintained and strengthened not only by the standards of physical perfection promoted by the fashion and entertainment industry worldwide but also by all the unskilled health professionals and coaches who keep promoting simplicity guidelines such as “stop eating ” to their obese patients.
Such superficial and simplistic approaches have led not only to the epidemic of obesity worldwide but also to the extreme rise in eating disorders. Eating disorders are not limited to the well-known conditions of anorexia and bulimia but are now enriched with new conditions such as binge eating, orthorexia, overeating. Those conditions are usually seen also in lots of amateurs and professional athletes.
Physical self-sarcasm, which usually accompanies obesity stigma and is translated as “self-awareness and self-knowledge” creates a vicious circle of criticism and self-humiliation. This is because the worst form of body shaming, which nourishes the obesity stigma, occurs first in our own heads.
Have you ever wondered what it means to have the perfect body that you will not be ashamed of, but proud of? Who defines it? How feasible, real, and healthy can it be? Is a lean body, the perfect body? Is a lean body healthy? What are the ideal curves in a woman and how many are the ideal hair in a man?
A healthy body is determined by a health professional based on very specific criteria, that all the entertainment, fashion, and publicity industries ignore. A healthy body is determined by much more than the number of the weight on the scale.
Body shaming will always happen to everyone, as long as we allow it to determine our beliefs and thoughts, not only for others but also for ourselves. Next time you feel ashamed of your body or embarrass someone else for its body… think again.
Love and accept all the assets and imperfections in your body. And if you want, try to improve it. Under no circumstances, however, do not impose with your opinion the right of someone else to do the same.
p.s. in a more recent interview, Adele commented that an intensive workout program was the solution firstly to her anxiety and then helped with her weight.
WorldObesityDay #beatobesitystigma #StopObesityStigma
By Dr. Valentini Konstantinidou, RDN, MSc, PhD.