Body Shaming Etiquette 6 Rules: How To Avoid It Best

The crucial body shaming etiquette rules. The appropriate behaviors to avoid the most common forms of body shaming. Follow these rules to be inclusive and avoid offending others.

What body shaming etiquette is

Body shaming etiquette is the set of rules to be inclusive and avoid discrimination based on someone’s physical appearance. Such rules include:

  • How to train yourself to avoid body shaming.
  • The inappropriate behaviors to avoid.
  • How to deal with body shaming.

Everyone should respect body shaming etiquette to avoid discriminatory behaviors, respect others, and be inclusive.

If you experience or witness body shaming, follow the etiquette rules to appropriately deal with the offending party.

General body shaming etiquette principles

People tend to feel more comfortable with someone who is similar to them. Such as someone with the same gender, ethnicity, appearance, religion, and so on. Thus, when people perceive diversity, they may get uncomfortable or defensive.

Body shaming etiquette is based on three main principles:

  • Help people positively perceive body diversity and avoid prejudice.
  • Ensure equal treatment.
  • Avoid any behavior that can offend others based on their physical appearance.
how to avoid discrimination based on physical appearance and body shaming

Body shaming etiquette rules

1) Train yourself to get comfortable with body diversity

Instead of focusing on the perceived diversity, it is best to train ourselves to focus on the similarities. The things that we have in common with other people are disproportionally more than the differences. We all eat, drink, breathe, spend time with someone we love, have fun, work, expect fair compensation for our work, and so on. Our body traits and physical appearance are factors that do not affect such similarities at all. Thus, they are mostly irrelevant.

2) Avoid generalization based on physical appearance

Never generalize. Personal traits and behaviors are almost always disconnected. If you see a tall person eating broccoli, it does not mean that all tall people eat broccoli. Or that eating broccoli is an activity appropriate only for tall people.

3) Adopt an inclusive language 

Never refer to someone by their physical traits, physical appearance, body parts, or behaviors. Similarly, avoid any term that can be perceived as derogatory based on someone’s physical appearance.

Avoid words, thoughts, or sentences that imply segregation. Such as “we” as opposed to “you” (your group) or “they”.

4) Challenge your own prejudice toward physical appearances

Prejudice leads to racism and discrimination. Thus, to avoid body shaming and discrimination, we need to fight our own prejudices.

Train yourself to challenge your own prejudice. Ask yourself whether your opinion about someone is based on your experience or on what other people say. It is best to base our opinions on our own first-hand experience. We cannot rely solely on what others may say or may have experienced, as they might be biased.

Similarly, ask yourself whether your opinion about someone would change if the person’s physical traits or appearance were different. Are there objective facts that informed your opinion? Or is your opinion based mostly on perceived factors?

5) Avoid sensitive topics

Avoid conversation topics that can be controversial, too personal, or at risk of misinterpretation. Some groups that have experienced significant discrimination based on their physical traits may be particularly sensitive to some topics.

It is most appropriate to make small talk to get to know other people. Small talk help build rapport, understand boundaries, and avoid venturing into conversation topics that may be sensitive.

6) Be tolerant of mistakes

Body shaming is wrong and it should be prevented. However, it is the best etiquette to avoid confrontation. Instead, when possible, choose tolerance and dialogue.

People are generally good and want to be good. Body shaming often comes from a lack of education about equality or exposure to diversity. Thus, the best cure against body shaming is to patiently educate people and expose them to diversity in a non-threatening way.

When someone makes an offensive remark, do not confront them. Instead, patiently make them aware that their remark or behavior can be offensive to you. Briefly explain your reasons.

Try your best to not sound judgemental or self-righteous. Instead, consider yourself privileged because you received education about equality or exposure to diversity, while the other person clearly did not.

Do not expect immediate results. People need time to learn, absorb experiences, understand their mistakes, and learn from them. Be tolerant and have faith in others and their goodwill.

How to deal with body shaming

Body shaming etiquette in your social circle

Help friends, relatives, and people you care about to correct their mistakes. Make them aware of what body shaming is and why it should be avoided. Be tolerant and non-confrontational. Try to start a dialogue and help them understand what behaviors to avoid and why. If the other person does not show any sign of improvement over time, it may be best to reconsider your relationship with them.

Body shaming etiquette at work or in the office

Every employer has the duty to create a work environment that is welcoming and inclusive. While a tolerant attitude is most appropriate in informal and social circles, body shaming should not be tolerated in any professional or institutional setting.

If you experience or witness body shaming or discrimination at work, you can politely correct the offending party. If the issue persists, avoid confrontation. Instead, involve your human resources function. When you find yourself in a work environment where discrimination based on physical appearance is endemic, do not start a crusade and leave.

Body shaming etiquette at schools and universities

Educational institutions have the duty to educate people about equality. Thus, any discriminatory behavior in such venues cannot be tolerated and must be corrected.

If you experience or witness body shaming and discrimination in an educational institution, you should report it immediately to the institution’s governing bodies. If the issue persists, it is perfectly appropriate to escalate it to any supervisory institution.

body shaming worst mistakes

Body shaming etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst body shaming etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Discriminating based on someone’s physical appearance.
  • 10/10. Tolerating persistent body shaming.
  • 9/10. Making generalizations based on physical appearance.
  • 8/10. Speaking in a non-inclusive language.


  • Body Shaming: an Exploratory Study on its Definition and Classification: