Although body shaming targets the person’s physical appearance, its effects extend mentally and emotionally. Here’s how body shaming affects the mental health of the victims:
It heighten stress levels and risk of psychiatric disorders
A study revealed that people who have perceived weight discrimination are 3.21 times more likely to report the highest level of perceived stress.
Moreover, the researchers concluded that participants who perceive discrimination concerning their weight are 2.41 times more likely to be diagnosed with more than 3 psychiatric disorders. These disorders may affect their mood (depression), anxiety, or substance use.
It may lead to social anxiety
Being publicly bullied increases a person’s insecurities. It results in low self-image and self-concept, which is affected both by how one perceives oneself and how other perceive them. In their eagerness to avoid embarrassing situations, people who experience body shaming may isolate themselves and refrain from engaging in social interactions.
It increases depressive symptoms
Body shaming also affects the mental health since it increases depressive symptoms.
In a study titled, Weight Shame, Social Connection, and Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence, the researchers looked into the effects of body shame on the depressive levels of 1,443 first-year college students.
Using questionnaires, the investigators measured the participants’ openness to friendships and their embarrassment in public due to the fear of weight discrimination. The researchers also gathered data on the subjects’ overweight status and their depressive levels.
Results show that overweight and obese students who experience body shaming have higher depressive symptoms. They also have a hard time forming friendships, which further increases the risk of depression.