The Consequences of Fat Shaming
Some people believe that making others feel ashamed of their weight or eating habits will motivate them to change. Although, scientific evidence shows this could not be further from the truth. The consequences of fat shaming include an increased risk of obesity, depression, eating disorders, reduced self-esteem, and more. It is very clear that fat shaming harms people both physically and psychologically, yet it is still extremely prevalent in our society. Follow along as we dive into the consequences of fat shaming and why no one should participate in such acts.
Worsening the Problem
While you may feel justified in fat-shaming, thinking it will ultimately help someone become healthier, you are probably worsening the problem. Discrimination and stigmas surrounding weight can cause stress which negatively effects people. For overweight individuals, oftentimes eating is a coping mechanism they have developed to deal with stress. Therefore, stress and shame spikes their cortisol levels and can drive them to eat more and gain more weight. To emphasize this point, one study of 6,157 people showed that non-obese participants who experienced weight discrimination were 2.5 times more likely to become obese in the next few years. Furthermore, obese people who experienced weight discrimination were 3.2 times more likely to stay obese. It is important to note that weight-bias internalization can occur in any body size. In other words, you don’t have to be obese or overweight to suffer the harm of fat-shaming.
The Harmful Effects
The harmful effects and consequences of fat-shaming go beyond additional weight gain. Those who experience fat-shaming and weight discrimiantion are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, reduced self-esteem, and other mental health issues. Depression and anxiety both have links to unhealthy eating habits, which, again, may exacerbate the problem. It is also common for victims of fat-shaming to develop eating disorders, such as binge eating or bulimia.
What is extremely sad about fat-shaming is that obese people often share the same attitudes towards fat people as the rest of society. Thus, fat people actually stigmatize themselves. They feel shame and blame themselves for their weight, falling into a trap of self-loathing behavior. This may result in exercise avoidance due to embarrassment about how they look exercising and wearing workout clothes. Unfortunately, lack of exercise can be detrimental to physical and mental health. The constant stress of experiencing weight discrimination, the subsequent weight gain, increased cortisol levels, and mental health issues may also increase the risk of various chronic diseases.
Outside Factors that Contribute to Weight
When talking about weight, it is important to note all the outside factors that can contribute to obesity. One stigma surrounding fat people is that their weight is solely based on personal choices. This is a common misperception that ultimately has a lot of negative repercussions, as we discussed above. Genetics, socioeconomic status, physiological factors, family health history, upbringing, and many other factors can contribute to someone’s weight. In fact, children from low-income families are more likely to become obese than their higher-income counterparts. Instead of embarrassing or shaming people for their weight, the solution is to instead support people, educate them on how to take care of their bodies, increase access to surgery, medical care, and healthy affordable foods.
The bottom line is that the consequences of fat-shaming can be extremely dangerous to someone’s physical and mental health. If you are struggling with repercussions of weight discrimination, it may be beneficial to talk with a therapist. If you have developed an eating disorder due to weight discrimination, it is important to get help as soon as possible. At Meredith O’Brien & Affiliates, we pride ourselves on creating a safe and nurturing environment for all of our clients. Without judgement, we strive to help our clients identify treatment goals, reduce life stressors, and learn effective coping skills to manage their lives more effectively. If you are interested in learning more about our treatment services, or wish to book an appointment, visit the Meredith O’Brien & Affiliates website.
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