Being called “too fat” or “too skinny” has caused women to feel insecure about their own bodies. Social media has led women and young girls to believe that there is only one type of perfection and beauty. The pressure to seem and look a certain way has affected women to buy certain products that could potentially make them thinner or use certain tools to get a certain waist size. Why is the “perfect body” idolized? Individuals joke, laugh, and make judgmental remarks for their “fat waist” or their “skeleton-like waist”. However, individuals are unaware of the consequences. Young girls, starting from a young age, are preoccupied with obsessing over magazine covers and focusing on achieving a body of small waist, thin legs, and thin arms. However, there is no “perfect body”. The pursuit of the “perfect body” leads to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and health problems. So, let’s say “NO!” to body shaming.
While searching past projects pertaining to body shaming, I read an article about a group called “Overweight Haters Ltd” that sends hateful and fat-shaming cards to women on the underground subway. I was appalled while reading the article and the messages the group sends to women. I wanted to find ways to stop the hatred and express how body-shaming is unacceptable. I came across an amazing article called “Body Shaming Needs to Stop: And it Needs to Start with You”, which explains how body shaming has affected children and young women’s confidence levels and how they are constantly comparing themselves to picture-perfect models. The article explains how women can change their way of thinking with a few pointers. The first is to replace “pretty” with “healthy”. I found this extremely helpful when it came to thinking of an idea for my activist project.
My project aims to address the importance of spreading awareness of the effects of body shaming. I primarily wanted to reach out to the UMBC community because attending this University has really affected who I have become and how I see myself. I started to grasp my identity and what I wanted to be in the future. In order to reach out to the women of UMBC, I wanted to remind women that they are beautiful and they should feel truly happy with their body. I decided to change my outlook on the project and became more vocal in the aspect of activism. Women should empower other women to feel beautiful and strong.
My first approach of posting sticky-notes in the women’s bathroom didn’t successfully work. I envisioned the women at the UMBC campus to read the sticky notes and feel empowered and know that they look amazing. After posting the sticky notes of encouraging words such as “You look beautiful” and “Smile, you look amazing!”, they were stepped on and thrown away in a short time span. I was discouraged at first and thought women didn’t necessarily care. However, I knew that with my past experiences of being body shamed, I wanted to spread the importance of why body shaming should be stopped. It’s important for women and young girls to know that an individual’s judgmental remarks shouldn’t influence their self-esteem. This led to the “Heart to You” photographs. I wanted the women at UMBC to show the media and themselves of how they love their body unconditionally. I asked young women on campus to make a heart with their hands to remind themselves and others that they love their body and it is important to empower other young women on campus as well. After listening to the purpose of my activist project, young women told me that they loved the idea and really enjoyed listening to my idea. Next time, I would like to work with larger communities and groups and spread the awareness and tell young girls that being and eating healthy is more important than excessive and harmful diets.
The project has made a great impact on my view of activism. I learned to speak up and converse with complete strangers to express my views and opinions. This was the first time I had actually went up to women to compliment them and to explain my view of body-shaming. My initial view and definition of activism was an influential project that could take many months or years to succeed. However, after this project, I believe even the smallest projects is considered activism. The act of spreading one’s opinions and views on a subject or matter and expressing yourself is activism itself. This project helped me become more vocal and confident with myself as well. Through past experiences and always being told to diet and eat less, I wanted to make a difference by telling other women that it is okay not to look like models on magazine covers and social media.