Social Media: Body Shaming, Cyberbullying And Trauma

"Women simply need to figure out how to dress as per their body type."

"You're so fortunate you can simply eat constantly."

"Fat Boy"

"He is not that muscley, and his head is bigger, in real life."

The majority of us have often listened to these nasty comments from the judgemental society we live in.

Is it correct to say that we aren't obsessed with appearances?

Why are we so fond of looks that we fail to remember the human behind that skin?

We fail to remember what lies underneath that face, what lies in that heart and brain, what lies in the mind of that stranger who is getting judged.

Magazines and social media “influencers” are regularly offering tips on how to get thinner "in days", “appear slimmer" and how to hide our "flaws” without knowing anything about us, about our lifestyle, our appearance.

Body-Shaming is to scrutinize yourself or others as a result of some part of physical appearance can promote an endless loop of judgment and criticism. Different trends on social media often suggest that we should change ourselves, that we should often think about looking slimmer, smarter, modest, taller, and ‘beautiful.

As far as we are concerned, the world has technologically advanced and in terms of social media, it implies more pictures and updates are posted online on social media. They are imparted to followers, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. As it is a two-way road, it permits the inflow of analysis, criticism, trolling, and mean comments by faceless accounts, and when the subject is your picture it translates to body shaming. Body-Shaming over the Internet can go from offensive mocking and inconsiderate comments to noticeable fat-shaming, awful remarks and generalization.

Social media is a stage where such toxic comments are way too common, leading to insecurities among young children, teenagers and even adults. Body Shaming is the practice or the act of embarrassing an individual by way of criticizing or offering basic remarks identifying with their body shapes and sizes.

These events may occur at their workplaces or their home. The general public’s perspective has been that "Thinness is the best quality level of beauty"; accordingly, those individuals who digress from such beauty ideals begin to feel underrated, insecure and may lose faith in themselves. However, what goes unnoticed is that extremely thin individuals too, face these issues, as they are not able to fit in the prescribed category of society. These are some of the main reasons which give rise to suicidal thoughts among the youth.

Body shaming has expanded its scope through social media in terms of cyberbullying.

There have been numerous incidents where individuals are harassed on different social media platforms. One of the basic methods of cyberbullying is body shaming. There are various ways available to individuals for expressing their opinions, perspective and sentiments. Many of them misuse it to express inappropriate, undesirable, tacky comments on people's photos and posts and perpetuate hate.

Cyberbullying and its resultant misfortunes are on the rise, and no one is safe online. There has been a rise in the number of cyberbullying cases against celebrities, such as continued bullying, which led to their accounts being deactivated. Some of them even went into rehab to deal with the trauma caused. As they are always under the spotlight, the harassers grab this as an opportunity to insult, taunt and torture these public figures. Worldwide pop sensation Selena Gomez is the latest survivor of social media cyberbullying.

Cybercrime has emerged as one of the greatest modern difficulties. With the improvement in innovation and expanded availability of the Internet, cybercrime and cyberbullying have increased rapidly. Approximately all internet users have confronted cyberbullying either purposely or accidentally. Statistics and information show that ladies and youngsters are the weakest groups and regularly fall victim to cyberbullying. In a survey led by Yahoo Health in 2016, it was discovered that out of 2000 national representative respondents aged between 13-64 years, 94% of teenage females as compared to the 64% guys, had experienced body shaming on the internet.

In August 2018, a 22-year-old aspiring fashion designer from Delhi committed suicide and her suicide note showed that she was being body shamed for a very long time. While researching the case, the police discovered that her previous internet searches showed that she had accessed various videos and articles regarding how to stay happy and less depressed.

In May 2019, a lady committed suicide due to being fat-shamed by her parents-in-law and spouse for a very long time in Pune; at the time of her marriage, she weighed 110 kgs, anyway later after marriage despite knowing her issues of being overweight and her spouse forced her for separation and dumped her at her parent's house. The lady had gone into depression and had ended it all.

Not just in India, people these days are getting bullied online all over the world. The saddest part is that there is no awareness about kids getting bullied online which hampers their intellectual growth. Numerous videos of people getting bullied are uploaded on YouTube, and they can't be traced as they are transferred secretly. In many nations, there are no particular laws for cyberbullying.

Eventually, in India, there is an increase in the cases of cyberbullying. The number of cases recorded is not proportionate to the genuine number of cases because 9.2% of the youngsters are afraid to share such instances with their guardians. As shown by Child Rights and You (CRY), 1 out of 3 adults are bullied, and by far, most of them are between 13-18 years of age. As shown by the National Crime Records Bureau, there is a 36% increase in cases of cyberbullying.

There are no special laws in India concerning cyberbullying. Section 499 of IPC defines defamation; Section 292A defines printing matter intended to blackmail; Section 354A describes sexual harassment; Section 354D defines stalking and Section 509 defines any word or action intended to insult the modesty of a woman. The Information Technology Amendment Act likewise gives solutions for cyberbullying through Section 66A of the IT Act which defines punishment for a person for sending an offensive message through any communicating device and Section 66E defines punishment for invading privacy.

If no serious steps are taken against this, cyberbullying can become a grave issue for all of us. It is high time for lawmakers to consult with specialists and make laws against cyberbullying because harassment causes great mental stress among youngsters who are the future of our country, also innocent kids are generally the victims.

Not only cyberbullying but various other digital crimes are occurring all over the country, which requires separate and strict laws. On the other hand, if laws are not made soon, victims will turn into casualties and as we all know, Prevention is better than cure.

So, youngsters need to be more careful and aware of the laws that protect them before using social media to avoid stress and to get the aggressor punished appropriately.

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