A Quick Debrief on Body Shaming 

A Quick Debrief on Body Shaming 


Body shaming is a widespread issue that negatively impacts individuals of all genders, leading to significant psychological and emotional distress. It refers to the act of criticizing oneself or others due to physical appearance, often influenced by societal norms and media portrayals. 

Impact on Women 

The impact of body shaming on women is becoming more widely understood today.  Women often face intense scrutiny over their bodies, influenced by media and cultural standards and it is something that we try to address at Barefoot Man by shifting the spotlight to the male body.  

Renowned author and social activist, Gloria Steinem, highlighted this issue, stating, “Our bodies are never wrong; it’s the standards that are wrong.” This sentiment underscores the unrealistic and harmful beauty standards women are expected to live up to. 

Impact on Men 

Although it is a more recently recognised phenomenon, body shaming also significantly impacts men, though it remains less frequently discussed. Actor and producer, Leonardo DiCaprio, has addressed this, noting in interviews the pressure men face to conform to certain body standards, especially in the entertainment industry.  

The Role of Social Media 

As with so many of the cultural issues we face today, social media platforms contribute significantly to the spread of body shaming. Psychologist and author, Dr. Susan Albers, comments on this, saying, “Social media often presents a highly curated version of reality, which can lead to unhealthy comparisons and body dissatisfaction.” This highlights the dangers of comparing oneself to the often unrealistic images seen online. 

The Dangers of Comparison 

The constant comparison fostered by social media can be damaging. Dr. Phil McGraw, a well-known psychologist and television personality, warns about the impact of such comparisons, stating, “We shouldn’t judge ourselves by others’ highlight reels.” This advice is crucial in an era where social media often showcases only the best aspects of people’s lives. 

Combating Body Shaming 

To counter body shaming, it’s important to promote body positivity and acceptance. Actress and body positivity advocate, Jameela Jamil, emphasizes this through her activism, encouraging a shift in how we view and discuss bodies. Her work, particularly with the ‘I Weigh’ movement, champions the idea of valuing individuals for their achievements and characteristics rather than their physical appearance. 


Body shaming is a complex issue rooted in societal and media influences. Its impact on both men and women highlights the need for a cultural shift towards greater acceptance of diverse body types (see our article on Body Politics in this issue).  

By fostering environments that promote body positivity and understanding, we can work towards mitigating the harmful effects of body shaming. As Dr. Albers puts it, “Change begins with how we see ourselves and others, moving away from judgment and towards acceptance.”