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CHECK Nord #2

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ENGLISH COMMUNITY BODY

ENGLISH COMMUNITY BODY SHAMING NO FATS, NO FEMS! Body shaming, i.e. discriminating against a person based on their external characteristics, is a problematic and frequent phenomenon and is now affecting more and more men – especially in the gay community. What does it do to you, what is behind it and why is the ideal body the measure of all things? We spoke to someone affected and also to an expert about how this phenomenon can plunge people into deep crises. “You are so fat. It’s so gross. I wouldn’t even touch you with rubber gloves!” Those are the less harmful sentences that René found on his social media profiles last year. “At least full sentences,” he laughs, although he admits that he sometimes feels like crying. René is 27 and an impressive figure, who weighs 125 kilos at 1.90 meters. It is clear to him that this does not correspond to current ideals of beauty. But he is open about it: “I will never be a slim man and that doesn’t bother me either.” Others, however, seem to be bothered by it. Because of his appearance, he is repeatedly rejected, especially on dating apps. “If I’m too strong for you, you’re too weak for me,” he says confidently, but admits that he deleted a photo in swimming trunks from his profile last year. At some point the often “funny” posts became too much for him and the comments even made him weary. His profile text reads: “I’m a bear – take me for who I am!”. And after all, many do. “I also get great messages from people who think I’m good – that makes me happy. I try to ignore the others.” In any case, René doesn’t want to lose weight or delete his profile. ”LEAVE PEOPLE AS THEY ARE – OR LEAVE THEM ALONE!“ René is a typical victim of body shaming, especially in the gay scene. For many, body shaming means degrading not just their body, but their whole person, their way of life. And this degradation can have enormous consequences: isolation and depression up to self-harm, even suicide. In order to reverse this trend and reduce body shaming, not only common sense, but also legislature is required. One wishes everyone would take René’s sentence to heart: “Leave people as they are – or leave them alone!” (bm,ts,mb) WHEN IDEAL IMAGES BECOME VISIONS OF HORROR Beautiful people, beautiful landscapes, beautiful bodies – if you ever have a peruse through Instagram, all these things seem normal, rather than special. But in reality, most people can not fulfill this ideal. Yet many are then badly bullied and discriminated against because of this. We spoke to Nico Erhardt, a consultant at the Münchener Aids- Hilfe, about the phenomenon of body shaming and the consequences for those affected. Photo: Bernd Müller Nico, how would you describe the term body shaming? Body shaming is a form of discrimination based on appearance. It is primarily about body fullness, i.e. whether someone appears too fat or too thin. But it can also affect all other external characteristics of a person, from size to hairstyle to criticism of individual parts of the body. 40 CHECK NORD #2

Why is the body so important in our modern society? The body itself has played an important role in every society at all times. Today we have a lot of media that communicate these body images. In the days before the Internet, there were printed representations in magazines or in art that were not so permanently present. Today an ideal image of the body is constantly available and it is reproduced again and again. A comparison is made on all channels. Being bombarded with so many ideal body images on a daily basis, our own body image can be affected, often forcing us to have its ideals. It tends to affect everyone who participates in public life, but is primarily encountered in social media. This is especially the case on Instagram as it is a very visual platform. Is this pressure particularly noticeable in the LGBTIQ* community? You have to differentiate here. On average, gay men*, for example, started using online dating apps and the internet relatively early on. As a result, the “attractive” body has always been particularly important to them – and the pressure to meet these expectations is correspondingly high. Trans* and inter* people, on the other hand, are often confronted with their bodies and how society receives them. Here the body is often at the center of an entire identity that is attacked from many sides. They are hit all the harder by criticism and gossip. What consequences can body shaming have for those affected? In addition to a general feeling of inferiority that leads people to withdraw, it can trigger self-harming behavior. This can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, as well as sports addiction and extreme bodybuilding. The latter is often associated with the use of artificial steroids, which can have a lasting effect on one’s quality of life. But even without pronounced symptoms: making fun of people or their physical features, insulting them because they look the way they look, that does something to those affected – but sometimes this is only noticed much later. What would have to change in society so that such discrimination no longer occurs? Photo: Cristian Newman_unsplash.com Body images and norms do not change overnight. Here, the legislator is required to deal more with hate speech and other phenomena and, on the other hand, to make campaigns more successful. In addition, there are social movements that react to this, such as the body positivity movement, which campaigns for the acceptance of one’s own individual body. Where can those affected find support? The particularly badly affected group of young people can turn to the classic youth support offices. For LGBTIQ* persons, advice centers at SUB, LeTRa, diversity or the Münchner Aids- Hilfe are in the best position to refer affected people to the appropriate offices. (ts,mb) (Interview: Bernd Müller) Münchner Aids-Hilfe e.V. Lindwurmstrasse 71, 80337 Munich www.muenchner-aidshilfe.de CHECK NORD #2 41

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blu, hinnerk, gab, rik, Leo – die Magazine der blu Mediengruppe erscheinen monatlich in den Metropolen Deutschlands. Die nationale Reichweite der Magazine ermöglicht den reisefreudigen Lesern Zugriff auf alle Informationen immer und überall. Themenschwerpunkte sind neben der regionalen queeren Szene, Kultur, Wellness, Design, Mode und Reise. Unsere Titel sind mit der lokalen Community jahrzehntelang gewachsen und eng verbunden, was durch Medienpartnerschaften mit den CSD-Paraden in Hamburg, Berlin, München und Frankfurt sowie zahlreiche Kooperationen, wie der Christmas Avenue in Köln, seinen Ausdruck findet.