Pope Francis addressed the issue of body shaming among young people on Tuesday (26), confessing his own guilt of engaging in such behaviour during his boyhood in Argentina over seven decades ago. He shared these comments during a virtual conversation with university students in Asia.
A woman from India shared her teenage experience with him, describing how she felt embarrassed and inferior to her classmates due to her weight and body shape. She revealed that she had suffered from bullying as a result of these struggles.
“Regardless of you being fat, thin, short tall, the important thing is to live in harmony, harmony in your hearts … every man, every woman has their own beauty and we really have to learn how to recognise it,” he said.
In the lead up to his answer to the woman, who also spoke of the pressures of social media, he told her a personal story.
“I recall a friend of mine who was a bit fat and we actually mocked him, I dare say bullied him, we once shoved him and he fell down,” Francis said.
“When I got home, my father was informed about this and he took me to this schoolmate’s home to apologise,” he said.
Francis, 86, said that he had reconnected with his friend in recent years and found out that the he had become an Evangelical pastor. Unfortunately, the man passed away recently.
Francis also spoke of cosmetic surgery during the conversation with the university students.
“Plastic surgery serves no purpose because its beauty is going to fade eventually,” he said, quoting the well-known story of 20th century Italian actress Anna Magnani saying “Please don’t retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them”.