Appearance over Achievement?: UP Board Topper Trolled for Facial Hair
Motivation News

Appearance over Achievement?: UP Board Topper Trolled for Facial Hair

Our childhood, interpersonal experiences on various occasions and agents of socialisation, most importantly social media, play a crucial role in shaping how individuals perceive and feel about themselves. Over all these years, social media has become an indispensable part of our lives and we cannot imagine a life without it. Whether as content creators or consumers, we contribute to social media, shaping narratives and influencing societal norms. However, alongside its numerous benefits, social media also has a few downsides. Activities like revenge porn, hate speech, and cyberbullying often fail to make the digital world a safe space. Body shaming and trolling are also one such aspect. It can have a severe impact on a person’s self-esteem and can lead to long-term emotional distress. Body shaming is the act of humiliating or mocking someone for their body shape, size or any other feature. In the virtual world, anonymity often becomes a shield, emboldening people to engage in trolling behaviours fearlessly.

Experiencing Body Shaming

As much as one is told to ignore the negative comments made on their bodies day in and day out, it is easier said than done. Being body-shamed is not a very good place to be. It can have a grave impact on one’s emotional and mental well-being. It affects individuals differently based on gender, targeting aspects like weight, body shape and skin complexion for women; and muscle strength, height, and hair loss for men. Such criticism can deeply affect a person.

Psychological effects include avoidance of mirrors, discomfort with physical intimacy and negative self-talk triggered by external criticism. Body shaming can also dictate clothing choices, leading to underconfidence in personal style. Additionally, it may result in physical neglect, as individuals feel disgusted and ashamed of their bodies, neglecting self-care practices. However, it is important to break the cycle of negativity and make a self-care toolkit that can help one with their self-critical thoughts. One step every day, something as small as saying affirmations can help in the long run.

UP State Board Topper Faces Cruel Social Media Backlash

A recent case that has been drawing reactions and sparking intense discussions is one of the UP state board toppers, Prachi Nigam. As put by The Print, “The ugly and cruel side of social media was once again on display, and this time the target was a girl from Uttar Pradesh who topped the Class 10 boards and scored 98.5 per cent. We should be celebrating with her. Instead, social media users pounced on her— for her looks.” People made fun of her facial hair, projecting their insecurities on her. A moment meant to celebrate her academic excellence was sabotaged cruelly. And chances are, it may well become a traumatising moment for Nigam. The Emotional Cost of Body Shaming Trolling It is disheartening to see that somebody’s incredible achievement at this young age is being overlooked in the name of her physical appearance! Is this what we as a society have stooped down to? There have been thousands of hate comments, memes, reposts and trolls all over Instagram where Prachi is being shamed for something as natural as her facial hair.

It is quite obvious to not expect her to remain unaffected by such cruel gestures online. But Prachi Nigam’s story is truly inspiring. Initially, it was difficult for her to respond to such an incident, that too, immediately after an academic win. Her sentiments during an exclusive interview with BBC reflected on the idea that if her marks had been slightly lower, she wouldn’t have achieved the top spot, and this wouldn’t have been the case! This reflects the emotional turmoil Prachi must have gone through at a time when she deserved praise and love.

Role of Parents and Significant Others in Cultivating Body Positivity and Self-Esteem

In the interview, Prachi shared that her family mentors, and even her friends never mocked her for her appearance. The fact that she stands firm amidst this mindless trolling says a lot about her secure upbringing. This emphasises the important role a parent plays in a child’s life. The way an individual is responded to by their significant others, including friends and teachers, either makes or breaks their love towards themselves. Amongst numerous studies on this topic, Scandal (2008) stated that a secure attachment can lead to higher self-esteem, an optimistic attitude, and a positive body image. Prachi says, “My family, my teachers, my friends never criticised me for my appearance and I never bothered about it either. It was only when my photograph was published after the results that people started trolling me and then my attention was drawn to the problem. I aim to become an engineer and what will ultimately matter are my marks and not the hair on my face.” She appears to be a literal ray of sunshine while being thick-skinned and shutting down the trolls with her positivity and conviction.


It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of how one’s body image profoundly impacts their well-being. The prescribed standards of an ideal body image are influenced by cultural, historical, and media factors and they may not represent the diversity of real body types. We are a lot more than our bodies, and our value as a person does not solely depend on how society perceives something as beautiful and desirable. Embracing diversity and understanding that beauty comes in various forms is essential for promoting a healthier and more inclusive perspective on body image. One should not forget humanity while interacting whether online or offline, realising that there is another human being on the receiving end. Words hold immense power. Choose kindness!

References +
  • Das, T. (2024, March 30). Body shaming: Here’s how it can impact us; therapist shares recovery kit. Hindustan Times.
  • Desk, T. L. (2024, April 30). Prachi Nigam, UP Board topper shuts down trolls with her powerful statement. The Times of India.
  • Saxena, S., Mathur, A., & Jain, S. (2020). BODY SHAMING, EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIVITY, AND LIFE ORIENTATION AMONG YOUNG ADULTS. Journal of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research, 7(9), 487–493.

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