Being shamed is not only a very real part of experiencing bullying behaviour, but it also a very real part of day-to-day life.
Shame can impact negatively on your well-being and self-esteem; it tells us that ‘we are bad’, that we should feel embarrassed of ourselves or a unique factor we might possess, that people have the right to judge us. Well, guess what? They don’t.
Here are 15 things we really need to stop shaming each other over.
In recent Ditch the Label research, appearance was cited as the number one aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look. We say, dress how you want to dress and be who you want to be!
2. Dress size.
‘Fat shaming’ is a relatively new term to describe something that has been going on for years, but size is nothing but a number! As long as you are happy and healthy nothing else matters.
3. Taste in music/film/food etc.
We all enjoy different things – it’s what makes the world go round! Whether you like listening to classical music or if watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire is your idea of a good night – that’s fine! Taste is totally subjective, so do what makes you happy and let others do the same.
4. Skin colour.
‘Too pale’, ‘too dark’, ‘too orange’, ‘too brown’ – who needs this kind of unwanted commentary or judgement? You have as much control over your DNA as you do the moon. All skin colours and tones are uniquely beautiful as they are different and that’s a good thing.
Not all people in relationships are happy and not all single people are unhappy! It’s time we acknowledged that being single doesn’t mean being alone. It also doesn’t mean there is something ‘wrong with you’.
There is so much pressure in society to find a partner – but there really is no rush! It’s much better that you take time to understand yourself and what you really want from life, before committing to another person.
‘Man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘stop acting like a girl’ are phrases commonly used to shame men out of expressing emotion. With this kind of suppression and stoicism firmly rooted in our culture, is it any surprise that male suicide is the biggest killer of young men today? We are literally shaming young men into suicide. We desperately need to step away from rigid, old-fashioned ideas of masculinity and move towards one that allows men to ask for help when they need it.
7. Slut shaming.
Slut shaming comes from the archaic belief that it’s not okay for females to enjoy or engage in a lot of sexual activity. Rather than shaming females who enjoy a healthy sex life, we should focus our energies on making sure consensual and safe sex is practised.
Your sexuality is another example of something you cannot control or change, but despite this fact, homophobia is still rife in many areas of society. Love is love! What does it matter who people date?
9. Mental health.
Even though it is 2019, Mental health still has a crippling stigma attached to it. Battling a mental illness can seem extremely daunting, but help and support is out there – so don’t ever feel too ashamed to seek it.
Mental health should be talked about as often and as openly as physical health – it makes no sense that an ailment of the mind should be considered more shameful than an ailment of the body.
How you decide to earn a living is your business entirely. There is great pressure on us to ‘succeed’ in society – and often that means financially succeed. However wealth is not a measure of ability or happiness, so we should not judge each other on such merits. Get to know the person before you ask them what it is they ‘do’.
11. Body hair.
To be hairy or not to be hairy? Well, that is entirely up to you – it’s your body after all! Society has conditioned us to see body hair as repulsive and something to be immediately removed, but in actual fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Whether you are as hairless as a Sphinx cat, or as furry as rabbit – if you like it, rock it!
Going against traditional expressions of femininity is often met with judgement in society today. Women are shamed into thinking that facial hair is wrong, or that having muscles is ‘manly’. A female celebrity caught without makeup is often slated in the media for not looking attractive enough. Women in managerial roles are often called ‘moody’ or ‘bossy’ – adjectives that would never be ascribed to males in their position.
Here at Ditch the Label we believe we need to give the concept of femininity room to evolve and grow into something far more accepting and liberating.
People who are living at either end of the spectrum are most vulnerable to this kind of shaming; those living in poverty and those who are wealthy. Both can experience damaging forms of snobbery, with judgement of the rich being inverted.
14. Living at home with your parents
Living at home with your mum and dad can be seen as a bit of a turn off once you are no longer a teen, but many people of all different ages and backgrounds at various points in their life decide to return to the family home – and some have never left in the first place! Whatever reason you might have for living at home (and there are many) it really is okay.
15. Social media
Social media might as well be called social judgement. How many followers do you have? How many likes do you get? How awesome and shiny does your life look? How many friends do you have? How many comments and retweets do you get?
It’s incredibly easy to feel the pangs of shame and judgement when scrolling through your news feed – and the most common place for it to come from, is actually ourselves.
We can feel shame when comparing our lives with other people’s, but we must remember that a profile will very rarely tell the full story of someone’s life.
So stop comparing, it really is the thief of all happiness!