Body-shaming problem on, off the web
Professor: Behavior may be easing in some communities
Bullying takes the form of a personal, pointed attack when body-shaming comes into play — a violation that follows victims online and in person.
“With the merging of the online and offline world, we are seeing a steep rise in body-shaming,” said national bullying expert Barbara Coloroso.
Body shaming — mocking or making cruel jokes about one’s physical features — can gravely impact the mental health of victims, she said.
“It’s persistent, it’s pernicious, it’s constant … it doesn’t go away,” said Coloroso. “They carry the weight of the pain of insult in their brain and in their body.”
But, psychoanalyst and Northeastern psychology professor William Sharp suggests body-shaming may be easing in some communities due to a wider acceptance surrounding gender identity and sexuality.
“People are more comfortable with their friends’ bodies,” said Sharp.
Sharp said body-shaming pressures can also come from television shows, movies and magazines — not just from fellow classmates.
According to guidelines from Stopbullying.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are several physical characteristics that may make one more susceptible to bullying.
The site lists risk factors like being underweight or overweight, wearing glasses or different clothing.
“It’s a matter of taking seriously the matter of verbal and social targeting of a human being,” said Coloroso.
PRESSURE: Northeastern psychology professor William Sharp said body shaming may be easing as people become more comfortable with others.