Body-shaming, fat-shaming, job-shaming, mom-shaming, slut-shaming, dog shaming. These are some of the most common results when you search shaming on Google. Excluding the funny Internet practice of dog shaming (look it up if you do not know what I am talking about), these are all horrible things. Shaming in any context should not be allowed, but somehow the idea of shaming has become so deeply ingrained in the narrative of our media that it is a common place word in many major headlines. This harmful concept constantly bombards readers, normalizing the idea of shaming someone for the way they act, dress, look, etc.
Your children are faced with shaming daily, either personally or as an audience to existing shaming of others. The problem here is oversaturation. At some point, it was easier to morally distinguish right and wrong with shaming and bullying, but now our public is so inundated with this kind of negative media, that it blurs the lines of right and wrong. A lot of Internet shaming is done under the veil of comedy. This makes things blurry for children in particular who don’t innately understand dark comedy and insult comedy and the fine line between a joke and hurtful criticism.
Inversely, children have a hard time when this shaming is turned towards them. Whether it be “comedic” shaming or just hateful criticism, children are not taught how to process and respond appropriately to shaming. In turn, this causes two reactions. Either they retaliate with that same hate that they were shown, or they internalize the criticism and let it damage their self esteems. Neither are healthy, responsible, or productive decisions.
This kind of negativity manifests itself on social media with things such as the “don’t judge me challenge,” on Tik Tok (formerly music.ly), a social media platform with a very young population.
In this challenge, kids start out their video with pimples drawn on their face, unibrows, glasses, messy hair, etc. Halfway through the video, they put their hand over the camera, and when they pull their hand away, they are suddenly all done up with a full-face makeup, nice clothes, nice hair, etc. This kind of content might be initially regarded as comedic content, but there are kids that actually look like the “before” versions, and they are seeing people constantly Cosplay “ugly” by dressing up like them. Additionally, there were many versions of this challenge that used different people for the before and after shot, which reinforces the idea that the first person is less attractive than the second.
This behavior stems from the normalization of shaming in our culture. Our kids think it is funny and acceptable to make fun of people for the way they look. This is a direct reflection on the society in which they were brought up. We have to change and be better and teach our children to treat each other kindly. Shaming is unacceptable and not appropriate, and it needs to be treated as such. When shaming becomes less mainstream, I believe we will see less bullying and low self-esteem in our youth.