Take a step back and think about how often you're told to change your body. Whether it's directly or indirectly, people constantly offer "tips" on how you can lose or gain weight to look "better" or "healthier." Perhaps some of these people assume that they're only helping, but this is not an excuse. Body-shaming is wrong, and it doesn't make someone better; it just makes their insecurities worse than it already is. It's time to realize that your verdict on someone's body affects their entire well-being.
We don't want the time to come that this vicious cycle of judgment and criticism becomes something unchangeable in our society. That's why we took the time to talk to some people who experienced body-shaming and asked them how they built up their confidence despite the negativity.
"My body is my property, and no one should judge it except myself. I am in charge of how I want to look, how my body should look, and nobody can dictate me on what I should do about it. It's high time for all of us to start minding our own business instead of wasting time thinking and criticizing one another. My body, my rules, and if ever I want to be fat, skinny, or curvy, then it's my call to do something about it, nobody else's." - Angeline, 21
"I used to be extremely insecure about my body, and during those times, I felt like no one would take me seriously. Then the time just came that I got tired of it. I told myself that my body shouldn't define who I am because I can still do a lot of great things even though I look like this. Well, overcoming it was never easy, I even endured a lot of bullying. I just used all those words thrown at me to propel myself and grow.” - Jim, 21
"Aside from investing on clothes that I know fits my body type, the most important thing that I did is to learn how to respond to people who body-shame me. When I was in college, I get easily affected. Every time I ride the jeepney that needs to be full first before it leaves, I experienced being judged by the driver because of the big space I occupy. But now, I learned how to respond to those kinds of people. I also learned how to present myself nicely through makeup, clothes, and body stance despite my body size." - Michelle, 22
"I stopped being affected by the people who body-shame me when I started to care less about other people's opinions about my body. As long as I'm healthy and I feel good about myself, then I'm good. I work out and eat healthy to feel good, not to please anyone. In my opinion, beauty is subjective. People should not feel bad about their looks." - Yuuki, 23
"I've experienced being told that I'm too thin for my height. When I hear those lines, I feel so hurt because I know it's not my fault my body looks like this. I tried my best to gain weight, but nothing still changed. Sometimes, I would even wear double layers of clothes, so I would look bigger. But then I realized that the reason I feel so unconfident was that I let their opinions affect me, so I just accepted all of my imperfections and got my confidence back. As long as you are happy, no one can drag you down. People will always judge you, but they can't control your life." - Joshrel, 23
"People will judge you regardless if you lost or gained weight, that's why I learned how to accept what my body looks like. If someone body-shames me and I was affected by it, I just cry it all out or eat food that make me happy, then surround myself with people who truly understand me. I can change the way I want to look anytime I want, but I'm still the same person. But I always tell myself to do it for me, not to satisfy others. The first compliment that one should get must always come from oneself." - Czhen, 22
"Well, regardless of how confident you feel, there will always be someone who would ruin your day by having a say on how your body looks. Their words may hurt you a bit, but instead of sulking, it is much better to ponder on them and see how it could be used to improve yourself. In the end, the important thing is how you see yourself, not how people would judge you based on your body image." - Rhovin, 22
"Honestly, even before, I don’t mind what other people think of my body. Sometimes, I get hurt by it, but I instantly bounce back because I’d rather focus on myself. The key is to keep on reminding yourself that they are just close-minded people whom you do not want to waste my energy on." - Mavie, 22
"When someone body-shames me, I always tell myself that it's okay because, at least, my boyfriend still loves me! Yup, this has been my defense mechanism. But of course, it's still not easy to dodge the negative comments. That's why I took some of it by heart and found myself losing weight. When I saw little changes, the resentment that I feel towards the people who body-shame me disappeared and I just focused on how I want myself to look. Still, I'm thankful for the people who constantly remind me how beautiful I am with or without these extra fats!" - Toni, 22
"I was badly bullied before by my so-called friends, that's why I decided to starve myself and exercise from time to time to lose weight. I did lose weight, but I started hating myself more because I refuse to eat the foods that I crave most of the time. After talking to the people who truly accept me, I saw that what I need to do is not to lose weight, but to love myself more. It took some time, but my true self is finally here." - Mylbch, 23
Just like how you're in charge of defining your self-worth, you're also the one in control of how you view your body. Changing what your body looks like might seem like the answer, but it honestly won't change what you feel from within. Once you start loving every aspect of your body, you'll start seeing the beautiful things that you've ignored or even despised before.
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Banner illustration by Mikka Caronan