“The Tone-Up” amplifies the voices of Muslim women who have something exclusive about Muslim women to talk or rant about. In this instalment, Aisha Mustapha rants about body-shaming and Patriarchal standards of beauty.
I once saw a photo of a couple; the bride was plus-sized. It was captioned: Only dogs eat bones, real men like flesh. At the time, I agreed with the caption because I thought it was a good comeback to women that have consistently shamed other women for being fat. It took me a few years of studying feminist theories and literature to understand that both groups of shamers are simply playing by the rules of the patriarchal system. They tear each other apart while playing a game none of them can win. While patriarchy says women must fight for men’s attention and approval, Feminism and enlightenment preach diversity, female self-love, self-worth, and most importantly, sisterhood. It rejects objectification and sexualization of female bodies; e,g referring to women as either bones or flesh.
Some months ago, a friend posted the very same photo and I sent her a private message, telling her that it counts as counter-body shaming. She immediately understood and deleted the post. Last night, another friend posted a video of a man talking down on his wife, saying something along the lines of her body type no longer being in vogue (whereas he also fails on the same standards he was judging her by). Instead of sending her a private message, I chose to write this article for a larger reach.
Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.
Body shaming is the act of mocking a person’s physical appearance. I will narrow this to bodyweight because this is the primary focus of this piece. Shaming based on bodyweight is quite ridiculous because every woman can’t fit into one or rather, a narrow scale of size. Metabolism rate differs; you can eat the same as someone, yet have different bodyweights. There is a bodily difference in the break down of food. This sometimes happens due to genetics. Childbirth also plays a huge role as body weight increases. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this!
The culture of Body shaming is built on Patriarchal standards of beauty. It affects mental health, leads to social withdrawal and seclusion and causes low self-esteem in women that have heard it enough. Words can be damaging.
Each time you shame another woman because you believe she rates lower than you on the scale of male desirability, you expose your deep lack of self-love and self-esteem. And to achieve a gender-equal world, where women are respected and valued as humans and not objects, rhetorics that define our humanity based on patriarchal standards must end.
Sisterhood is the bane of Female progress. Fat shaming and slim shaming are two sides of the same coin as they carry undertones of competing for male desirability. And there is much more to life than that.
- Aisha Mustapha is a Medical Student who writes about women, culture and life. She loves books and meeting people and she is unapologetic about expressing herself.