The other day I was chatting with my Filipina colleagues, and we were discussing the increased levels of anxiety during the holiday season.
Body shaming in the Filipinx culture has become normalized that we anticipate it in family gatherings. When we ask our elders why does our culture body shame, they respond with, “That’s just the way it’s always been.” Because Filipinx has been colonized for almost 400 years, generations have been taught that our culture is inferior compared to our colonizers.
What is colonial mentality?
David and Nadal (2013), Filipinx American Psychologists, have discussed this phenomenon as the colonial mentality, “a form of internalized oppression that conditions colonized people to believe that their ethnic or cultural identity is inferior to Western culture or whiteness. Therefore, they live their lives striving to be westernized and learning to hate their indigenous roots.”
How has this impacted the Filipinx community?
For example, “because of the long colonial history of Filipinos and the highly Americanized climate of postcolonial Philippines, many scholars from various disciplines have speculated that colonialism and its legacies may play major roles in the Filipino cultural mentality that is characterized by a perception of ethnic or cultural inferiority” (David & Okazaki, 2006).
Because of this inferior thinking among the Filipinx American community, diet culture has become our way of living.
What is diet culture?
Because of this inferior thinking among the Filipinx American community, diet culture has become our way of living. Diet culture in the United States is “pervasive norms that emphasize thinness, control, and restriction around eating and exercise behaviors, and the moralization of how food plays a significant role in contributing to body dissatisfaction” (Faw et al., 2021).
Why does this matter?
Body dissatisfaction is associated with a host of negative health outcomes, such as increased risks of depression and anxiety and lower levels of self-esteem.
Does body shaming in the Filipinx culture sound familiar to you?
If you’d like to learn more, take the free colonial mentality quiz about food and body image.
Also, you can learn more about How I am Making Peace with my Body, blog post
“You define beauty yourself. Society doesn’t define your beauty.” – Lady Gaga
David, E. J. R., & Nadal, K. L. (2013). The colonial context of Filipino American immigrants’ psychological experiences. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19(3), 298-309.
David, E. J. R., & Okazaki, S. (2006). Colonial mentality: a review and recommendation for Filipino American psychology. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 12(1), 1-16.
Faw, M. H., Davidson, K., Hogan, L., & Thomas, K. (2021). Corumination, diet culture, intuitive eating, and body dissatisfaction among young adult women. Personal Relationships, 28(2), 406-426.