Every Body Talks

Every Body Talks, a panel discussion on body image issues, was conducted by Niyamat, a team of Manipal alumni. The panel discussion kickstarted on 5th February, 11 AM onwards over a Zoom meeting with a round of introduction of the panelists. The panel included a group of highly acclaimed queer-affirmative psychologists namely- Kangkana Bunyan, Sucheta NK, Yamini Gurunani, Yashvi Manani, and Shafeer KV.

The introduction of the panelists was followed by an elaborate exchange of dialogues on various topics.

The discussion began with an insight as to what exactly body image is and how it is developed and the various factors that contribute towards it. The talk on body image was followed by a discussion on the topic of how the cosmetics industry lures us in as a way to cover up for our true selves; how where on one hand people use makeup as a mode to express their art while on the other some people find makeup as a channel to cover up for their insecurities. As an example, the moderator, Mrigakshi Sharma mentioned in the talk about the difficulty in drawing a line between self-expression and obligation while doing small things like waxing one’s arms.

During this talk, the role of peer pressure amongst teenagers as well as college students regarding looking a certain way was also highlighted along with the issue of media consumption that we see in today’s times. Following this, the role of family and society in shaping the perception of one’s body image was discussed elaborately which included an extensive discussion on the topic of body shaming, where one of the panelists said, “You absorb these kinds of comments and they start becoming beliefs that you start holding about yourself.” The talk also involved an elaborate discussion on the acts in our society wherein bullying and body shaming by our parents, teachers, and peers are often dismissed as being playful.

This was followed by a discussion on healthy eating habits and eating disorders, which included topics of discussion like, how a person identifies if they have an eating disorder, the common forms of eating disorders, and what are the factors that lead to the onset of eating disorders.

After this, the panelists moved forth to a round of discussion on the ongoing rise in the trend of intense workout and diet culture, the relation of body image to a certain aesthetic. This also involved the discussion on the topic of what happens if a person who was on an extreme diet gets off, of it and as a result ends up gaining more weight. The crucial topic of working out in gyms by individuals as young as fourteen years of age was also brought to light.

This was followed by a discussion on the changes in one’s ideas on one’s body image while aging, following which the talk speed through to discuss, how the number of hours spent on social media per day affects our perception of our body image. One of the panelists highlighted the importance of following pages and people that focus on food and exercise as a source of feeling better as opposed to looking better.

As a last topic of discussion, the panelists discussed extensively the idea of body image from a male point of view, which included discussion on the issue of muscle dysmorphia amongst men wherein according to one of the panelists, men have always been portrayed as being muscular in older texts and cinematic works, which has certainly shaped the varied ideas about body image by the male section of the society following this the main segment of the talk was concluded by one of the panelists by a very healthy discussion on ways to tackle and develop a healthy sense of body image.

At the end of the panel discussion, the room was opened for the audience to ask questions.

Written by Namrata Gupta for MTTN

Featured Image by Shivika Sarogi for MTTN

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