Size and body image can have profound and sometimes debilitating effects on a person’s sexual self-esteem and self-expression. Internalized shame and feelings of inadequacy are often super-charged by the constant stream of external judgment, a barrage of media and marketing pressure (individuals are exposed to an estimated 300,000 negative images or comments about weight each year), and socially acceptable prejudice against those who don’t conform. People of size can be left feeling like a different species, and when they speak up, are often silenced by people citing health issues or the latest diet trend. Plus-size youth are subjected to additional peer pressures that include not only size-shaming but also sex-based shaming.
Releasing the internalized shame and improving our body image can go a long way towards changing this pattern. When people accept themselves as they are, and learn to love themselves and their bodies, they can start making a difference in the world. Shame creates stresses which are hard on the body and on relationships with others, and can reduce mental focus and initiative.
In this panel, we’ll examine the effects of internal and external shame, share statistics and discuss approaches and techniques for reclaiming confidence and self-love, as well as dealing with negative pressure from both society and those closest to us.