Pope Francis has denounced body shaming but has also acknowledged that he was guilty of doing it himself as a child.
He made this remark while speaking through a video link to university students in Asia.
A woman from India told him how, as a teenager, she felt embarrassed and inferior to her classmates because of her weight and physical type, and how she had been bullied.
The Pope replied: “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 recognize it.”
He told her a personal story before responding to the woman, who also mentioned the demands of social media.
“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 apologize,” he said.
Pope Francis, 86, claimed he reconnected with the acquaintance in recent years and discovered he had become an Evangelical pastor. The man died not long ago.
During his meeting with the university students, Francis also mentioned cosmetic surgery.
“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.”