Body shaming is a painful source of teen bullying

by | Nov 20, 2015 | Life

Alia Richardson
Life Reporter

Some Humber students say they have been body shamed, bullied and mistreated based on their physical appearance.

Vaulter Dos Santos, a 20-year-old graphic and design student, said he’s been a victim of bullying because he doesn’t have abs.

He said people don’t realize that men go through moments of insecurity with their bodies as well as women.

“It’s looked at as a girl’s problem because guys usually don’t care about that stuff. But it kind of hurt me when I was told that my not-so-toned stomach was unattractive,” said Dos Santos.

Nineteen-year-old Natalia Omar, a second-year family and community social services student at University of Guelph-Humber, said she’s got a small physique and most would consider her to be petite.

Omar said people often tried to make her feel bad for being so small. She said she experienced people giving her backhanded compliments when they spoke about her body.

“People would say that I was so small and ask how I could even fit into anything. Then, they’d try to sweeten it up by telling me how cute I was,” said Omar.

Sierra Lyndsay, a social worker at the North West Scarborough Youth Centre, said it’s very common for young people to feel anxiety or depression when others constantly make comments about their physical appearance.

Body shaming is the highest cause of suicide among teenagers, she said: “I come across a lot of young people who were fine with the way they looked until they heard something hurtful from somebody else.”

One in three Canadian students can’t perform well in school due to lack of confidence, she added. She advised students write down what they are feeling because expression releases tension and loneliness.

Humber’s North campus Health and Wellness Centre is located on the fifth floor of the new Learning Resource Commons building. Students dealing with mental issues are encouraged to book an appointment with a social worker, a service offered without cost.