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.
It might increase the risk of suicide
While we lack clinical research on the direct relationship between body shaming and suicide risks, some studies hint at a connection.
For instance, one research concluded that overweight teens or those who think that they are overweight are more likely to try suicide. Lead author, Monica Swahn, Ph.D., explains that young people feel very pressured when it comes to fitting in certain beauty ideals.
Additionally, let’s not forget that overweight and obese people have a higher risk of experiencing depression, a significant risk factor in attempting or committing suicide.
It might cause eating disorders and/or obesity
Lastly, studies show that body shaming affects mental health as it may cause eating disorders and obesity.
Studies show that overweight and obese people may overeat due to the stress of weight stigma or discrimination. Overeating results in either weight loss difficulties or increased obesity risk. For this reason, many experts believe that weight stigma fuels a “vicious cycle” wherein discrimination prevents weight loss and promotes further weight gain, which then brings on another round of weight discrimination.
In other cases, people who experience body shaming may develop eating disorders such as anorexia, which is the refusal to eat, or bulimia, wherein a person eats large amounts of food (binge) and then forces themselves to vomit later (purge).