We are a world of people with different body sizes, height and weight. Though some people may be similar, there is still an amount of uniqueness in our individual appearance that distinguishes us from the rest of the world.

Sadly, with a rise in fashion trends and TV characters that reflect what is deemed the set standard for what appears to be the right body size or the right weight or even the perfect body structure, there is a breach that has sprung up in embracing the uniqueness we have as individuals.

For example, most models in the fashion industry who book great modelling gigs are usually skinny, and only a few or no ‘plus-size’ models are considered. As a result, those who are not skinny pressurise themselves into losing weight just to book a said gig.

In another context, skinny people are considered to be ‘unhealthy’ and most times come across people who tell them to ‘eat something’. To appease such comments, they end up eating too much in order to change their appearance and ‘look healthy’.

There is also an urban saying one might have come across that goes ‘real women have curves,’ leaving those who do not fit into the category of being ‘curvy’ feeling like less of a woman. Others even resort to surgery to change their body structure.

In today’s world, one will find a great number of people with esteem issues because they are being body shamed for not fitting into those set standards and in all honesty, this has resulted in a world filled with unhappy people.

This unhappiness may be baffling to one who may feel this issue is not that big of a deal. However, to people who always get body-shamed by being told to lose or gain weight because they are not fat or skinny enough or even that they are not curvy like the rest, is really a serious issue.

The vice of body shaming has become so pervasive such that there is a need to go back to the drawing board in order to address it once and for all.

In her quest to shed more light on the topic, The Insider’s Arielle Tschinkel explained that there are several other ways people get body-shamed and most of these are subtle but often lead to the person on the receiving end feeling miserable.

Joking or encouraging someone to eat because they appear too thin is a subtle form of body shaming because some people are thin for all kinds of reasons, others from their genetic makeup,

she explained.

There are instances where some people may joke about their friends’ weight with no intent to cause harm but end up hurting their friends’ feelings.

Tamara Mfune, an advocate against body shaming viewed the vice as an inappropriate negative statement and attitude towards another person.

There are many instances of body-shaming in Zambia. We have fat people who are being shamed in schools; the shortest and the tallest, the thinnest are being accused of contracting diseases,

she added.

However, this does not imply that everyone has turned a blind eye to the situation. There are some Zambians who have recognised the need to ensure women feel confident in their own skin.

Kudos to Zebra Events and Design (ZED), who have created Miss Plus Size Zed, a pageant that will propagate the message of self-love, esteem and confidence in the lives of the plus-size community.

Eunice Musonda, one of ZED’s members, explained that the pageant is a way of showing the creativity and capability of the plus-size community.

“The pageant aims at celebrating the African woman. We hope to create plus size ambassadors who will help sensitise the society and the country at large about body confidence and acceptance of different body types regardless of size, age or weight,” said Musonda.

Such efforts bring hope that the world is heading in a direction where one day women will unite in their uniqueness and empower each other to embrace who they are and how they look.

The Lusaka Star wishes to advise those who have been body-shamed before to echo the wise words of Virginia Satir to themselves,

‘I am me. In all the world, there is no one exactly like me- everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it. I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself.

Understand that you are unique and be confident in that realisation because it will open your eyes to see that nobody can do you better than you. That’s why you are you!

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