A spliced image of a man in red taking a selfie, a drag queen in pink wearing full makeup, and a woman with pink curly hair

As far as we could remember, people have always put the spotlight on the human body and its inherent beauty: worshipping its perceived merits and vilifying its supposed flaws and imperfections. This practice has, unfortunately, been carried over to modern times, with social media and popular culture often amplifying traditional and popular — if outdated and ridiculous — body standards and broadcasting them to the general public. These standards, as many have since pointed out, have become the basis for body shaming.

What Is Body Shaming?

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders or ANAD, body shaming — and its most common form, fat-shaming — is the practice of expressing humiliation about another individual’s body shape or size.

Because of this, it is not surprising to learn that people often feel uncomfortable and overly critical about their bodies, with many of them feeling needless concern regarding their weight, skin color, hair, or even general body shape. This, as noted by experts, can result in issues such as poor performance in work, failures in interpersonal relationships, and even a decline in people’s overall quality of life.

Not only that, but according to experts, people who have a negative perception of their bodies often have a greater likelihood of developing serious problems such as eating disorders, as well as suffer from the likes of depression.

The younger generation, however, is starting to push back against this practice and instead are taking the necessary steps to embrace themselves and their bodies — focusing on what makes them beautiful, including and especially their flaws.

Brian, on Body Image and Beauty

Drag queen Brian Black thought her feminine features were a weakness until drag helped her embrace them as strengths.instagram/wickedlittletanya

“Beauty is more of an inward feeling that manifests itself on the outside. It’s a very personal journey towards self-love and self-respect,” young drag queen Brian Black shares, adding that people shouldn’t have to worry about conforming to beauty standards, given that the very notion of beauty is actually very diverse.

“I don’t believe in subscribing to any standard. Instead of imposition, we should accept that there are different kinds of beauty and that they all deserve to be celebrated!” Brian says.

Brian adds while there have been times that he would get insecure over certain things about his appearance, he ultimately pays them no mind: “I have this mindset not to stress over things I can’t control. So, even if I wished I were taller, I know that there’s physically nothing I can do about it, so why even stress over it?”

One key thing that helped him get over his insecurities, Brian notes in our interview, was the art of doing drag: “I used to be very insecure that my facial features weren’t masculine: I didn’t have a sharp enough jaw or a square enough face. Through drag, I really started to embrace my oval face and softer features,” Brian says.

Brian, in our interview, notes that while he is fortunate enough not to be on the receiving end of body shaming, it is still an issue that needs to be given enough attention.

“I’m privileged enough not to have been the target of body-shaming online. That being said, it is an important issue to address, and the media has done more harm than good in this regard,” Brian says, adding that “everyone should be able to celebrate their bodies!”

As noted by experts, one body part that needs to be pampered more is our hair. In a tropical country like the Philippines, this can be done by finding a shampoo that gives one’s hair the right moisture balance, such as Sunsilk Naturals Coconut Hydration Shampoo.

Formulated with refreshing and vitamin-packed coconut water, this shampoo hydrates hair fiber by fiber, leaving it soft and bouncy instead of flat and heavy.

Mike, on Being Comfortable in One’s Skin

For freelance creative Mike Eduardo, society is overly concerned with beauty and body standards.instagram/supersonicsiomai

Mike Eduardo, a freelance creative based in Makati, is no stranger to body shaming, noting in our interview that he once received a rude message from a stranger online.

“It was 2018, and someone replied with "Masyado kang payat" on Grindr, an app that, as we all know, is a cesspool of self-absorbed, ‘masc4masc gays,’ who think circuit parties are the only venue where they can get genuine validation, other than their parents,” Mike said.

Mike, in our interview, shares that body shaming often happens because society is obsessed with beauty and body standards, as well as their constant amplification in the media. “There has to be due diligence on researching how these unrealistic standards affect the physical and mental well-being of people,” he adds.

Mike admits to having his fair share of insecurities, namely his acne scars and his thin frame. According to Mike, the latter is particularly complicated, as it is a trait normally equated to femininity and is thus often looked down upon by more macho-looking gay men.

Mike, in our interview, maintains that people should not be too focused on superficial notions of beauty, especially since the body is in a constant, ever-changing state. Not only that, but people should also learn to shake off their prejudice when it comes to people who choose to implement actual changes in their appearance: “Your body, your choice. If one insists on getting Botox and fillers, great! If not, also great!” 

One of the easy fixes one can do is to use brightening oral health products, such as Closeup Natural Smile. Formulated with natural ingredients such as lemon essence and sea salt, this brightening toothpaste is perfect for those who wish to restore their naturally bright smile without resorting to costly treatments.

Effy, on Learning to Love One’s Body

Effy Elmubarak wants to draw the line between diversity and tokenism.instagram/bukojulce

For Filipino-Sudanese creative Effy Elmubarak, learning to love one's self is a long and harrowing process.

"To this day, I’m still very much insecure about my size, and there’s still a lot of stuff that I haven’t reconciled yet surrounding my relationship with my body image. However, I’m growing, and I’m learning to be kinder to myself," Effy says in an interview. She notes that there had been times wherein her self-esteem plummeted to such an extent that it ruined meaningful relationships and even caused her to miss out on important opportunities.

Effy says that one of the most important and impactful realizations she had during her journey towards self-love was learning that the male gaze is one of the driving forces that influence the imposition of traditional and oppressive — beauty and body image standards on women. 

"Separating my perception of myself and my body from the male gaze did wonders to my self-esteem," Effy says, noting that it helped her unlearn the Eurocentric, fatphobic, and colorist ideals imposed on her by the media.

Effy admits, however, that even though today's beauty standards are more inclusive, fatphobia is still rampant. Because of this, Effy says she is grateful that she has people in her corner who constantly show her support.

“I’m super appreciative of the people around me who never get tired of reminding me that I’m beautiful,” she says.

Effy, in our interview, notes that there’s one thing she wants to happen in the beauty industry: genuine inclusivity.

“Now that we have an influx of diverse material on media and fashion, the next step is to draw the line between diversity and tokenism. A lot of these brands bank on diversity as a crutch to appear more progressive, but we still see how they uphold a certain standard as the norm when there shouldn’t even be a norm,” Effy says.

Learn to Love Yourself Helps Boost Self-Esteem

Loving one’s body and gaining a positive body image is a long and complicated process that usually begins with unlearning a lot of the misconceptions that we grew up with, and accepting your body’s natural shape and size. One’s physical appearance says very little about one’s character and value as a human being, as we have seen from our respondents above, and knowing this can help boost your body image and self-esteem. 

That said, one way to celebrate one’s body is to pamper it, such as by using Dove Relaxing Lavender Body Wash. Made with Moisture Renew Blend, this calming lather is mild yet luxurious and helps nourish, moisturize, and protect the skin, leaving it softer, smoother, and healthier.

Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Restore Body Lotion, on the other hand, helps restore damaged skin from deep within with its pure oat extract and Vaseline Jelly formulation. This leaves your skin deeply moisturized and looking noticeably healthier — all after one application.

Body shaming is beyond our control. What we can do is love ourselves — flaws and all. It can be tough, but, as Brian and Mike and countless others have shown, it’s all worth it in the end.