Boys are concerned about their bodies too
Connor reposted what a young teenage boy had posted on Instagram about body shaming. I read it. At 13 he is at the younger end of Instagram users (6%) so his audience was largely adults. I needed to listen to what his post said. It is my job to act.
It was a telling story (now deleted under the story rules) about body shaming. The boy said he had seen nothing about body shaming and boys but plenty by girls. His view was that boys body shaming happens to all.
The pain, caused by girls saying they like tall boys if you are short, or muscly boys if you are not, or slim boys if you are fat, hurts. Body shaming makes a boy feel bad just like a girl. It should stop.
Boys need to talk
Boys who experience body shaming get the double pressure of not feeling able to talk about it. They are told to ‘man up’ and just handle painful criticisms. ‘We’re not supposed to have feelings but guess what, we do and they’re bad’. In the movie Jumanji the adult Alan Parrish tells the little Peter to stop crying and if he has a problem to ‘face it like a man’. A pause and Alan says ‘26 years in Jumanji and I still sound like my Dad’. Telling boys they should hide their feelings passes generation to generation unless we adults break the pattern.
Learning to hold in your feelings is not healthy or helpful. Being told to ‘man up’ makes a boy feel like they have to keep all their feelings to themselves, not to talk to anyone about their feelings and not ask for help. This is wrong and can only lead to pain and damage relationships. This teenager went as far as to say it can lead to suicidal feelings.
His final call out was ‘ please stop judging and body shaming, it’s not okay’. He is so very right.
Share the message
I thanked Connor for sharing it. He said he had only done it because his mates were sharing it. Well, reading posts before posting them is better. After all, we are owning what is written when we post, retweet or share anything. On this occasion Connor had chosen a good message. One we all need to hear. The long list of replies to the post all supported the message.
To apologise is to show strength
I’m aiming at my grandsons sharing their feelings, listening to others pain and helping where they can. Their Mum and Dad enjoy the boys calling for a daily ‘family hug’. Being respectful, kind and fun are what denote a rounded person, boy or girl. Grumpy moments, saying nasty things to others can happen in the heat of the moment. But they need to be faced up to and apologies given. To apologise shows greater strength than bullying with words. Body shaming is bullying. Bullying is not okay.
- Read posts by young people with positive messages and share them
- Ask young people what they think about the messages in posts they see
- Look at posts on their Instagram (13), Whatsapp (16) and other feeds. Discuss them.
- Notice body shaming and call it out.