6 surprising facts about body shaming, according to this new study

As much as you can try to surround yourself with positive people, messages, and self-talk, it can be hard to avoid body shaming. But, like with everything else that brings us down, knowing all the statistics and facts about body shaming can seriously help overcome it. External forces around us do seem to be getting better: There’s not nearly as much body shaming on magazine covers and in commercials, and people are more comfortable calling it out when they see it. Celebs and media outlets seem to be all about pumping out the good vibes when it comes to body confidence and valuing self-care over trying to be as thin (or whatever the current “It” body type it) as humanly possible. And we know it’s a real movement these days, because brands are catching on, too, and they only do something if they think it’s going to make them more money.

People want to feel good about themselves and want to shop at places that don’t leave anyone out.

Although there’s still a long way to go when it comes to being completely size inclusive, popular clothing lines are adding more sizes to their racks and in their advertising, so we’re not faced with the same body type over and over again. It feels good to be reminded that there’s nothing wrong with our “bikini bodies,” that we don’t have to cover up our imperfections with concealer every morning, and we can be as obsessed with or as ambivalent about our waistlines and hairstyles as we want to be.

Still, the body positivity movement can be problematic, too, especially if you’ve been trying to overcome a lifetime of being bullied about your body, are recovering from an eating disorder, or just can’t help not “loving” the way you look in jeans. A recent poll by FitRated found that body shaming affects pretty much everyone — and that it can come from some surprising sources. Here’s some of what they found.

1Both men and women are body shamed.

According to the survey, 93 percent of women and 83 percent of men reported being body shamed, which is a lot closer than we would’ve thought. Men and women both reported that their bellies and legs were the body parts they most often felt shame about, though women also reported being criticized for their butts and lack of muscle tone. Men reported feeling the need to have “chiseled” abs thanks to body shaming in the media, which is interesting, since some of the most famous and popular men in pop culture these days are adored for their “dad bods,” even if they’re not dads sometimes, while women who have actually had children are harassed into “bouncing back” after a baby. 

2But body shaming tends to haunt women for a lot longer.

Although women and men both report being body shamed, the messages women get about their bodies tend to affect them for a lot longer. A 2016 study, in fact, found that as women and men age, women report consistent levels of body shaming while men start to report feeling more confident. The researchers concluded that this was because, as a culture, it’s more acceptable to comment on a woman’s body whether she’s 14 years old or 84 years old, while men are deemed “just fine” throughout their lives.

3Experience doesn’t give us empathy.

You’d think that the more we’ve been bullied and shamed about our bodies, the more likely we’d be to stand up for someone else who’s being shamed. Alas, that was not the case with these survey respondents. About 32 percent of people who had been body shamed themselves admitted to body shaming others. Be nice, people!

4It’s all your mom’s fault.

This might be way too real for some people, but it turns out that the media and pop culture are just a few of the culprits of body shaming. Most people — a whopping 62 percent of women compared to 30 percent of men — reported being body shamed by their mother.

Dads are no treat, either. A little over 40 percent of women and almost 26 percent of men reported being body shamed in some way by their father. Grandmothers are also big body shamers, as so many of us might know. There were 35 percent of women and 17 percent of men who reported being told they were too big, too small, too short, too tall, and a host of other things by their grandma. Grandfathers, for some inexplicable reason, were not included in the survey.

5And other toxic relationships.

In addition to their moms, survey respondents also reported being shamed by their significant others, but this time it didn’t break down anywhere near equal based on gender. About 50 percent of women reported being body shamed by their S.O., compared with 23 percent of men. Friends, sisters, and even brothers were also some of the major sources of body shame.

6“Skinny shaming” is just as bad as “fat shaming.”

Our culture favors slim body types over larger ones — it’s easier to find cute clothes that fit, be in public spaces, and even go to the doctor. But telling someone they’re “so skinny,” or “like a stick,” or commenting on their body at all can also be body shaming. The person making the comment doesn’t get to determine whether or not it’s shaming — that totally depends on how the person hearing it feels, and you never know how your comment will land. This happens to women as much as it does to men, who report being told by their significant others that they’re “too skinny.” Body shaming and body positivity can be complicated to overcome and achieve. Maybe it’s just better if we all stopped talking about each other’s bodies in the first place.