The negative effect of body-shaming on young people is an issue that is rarely discussed. We only get to hear or read about it when it’s a bad news with a young individual involved. Body-shaming is a global issue that begs to be addressed immediately and it would help to know why.
Many people believe that making overweight young individuals feel ashamed about their body size or eating habit would motivate them to do better. Instead, scientific studies have shown that this action only does more harm than good. There is a belief that the negative effect of body-shaming on young people isn’t discussed enough, and that most people aren’t aware of the impact of their actions against people who already feel out of place.
Body-shaming is the practice of demeaning or humiliating other people through critical comments or mockery regarding their body shape or size. Rather than motivate, body-shaming makes people feel less of themselves. This can affect their mood and cause a series of physical and mental repercussions. Koleolat would be educating you on the harmful effect of body-shaming on young people in this article.
Body-shaming can be directed at people who are either very tall, short, underweight, overweight, people with physical defects, and others. Many people go through life trying to fit into the societal standards of how a person should look, act, or talk while denying that there is nothing wrong with them. This includes people who are continuously being monitored and judged by their physical appearance and would do anything to get public opinion on how they should appear.
Stereotyping is a significant issue that needs to be addressed immediately because it mostly affects young people who are overweight. Because billboards, magazines, and high-paying models present impossible an almost impossible body image of young, slim, tall people with flawless physical features, ordinary young people begin to see themselves as unequal and socially unacceptable.
This can lead to several mental complications that may include eating disorders and even suicide. Body-shaming on young people can lead to many complications, and some of them include:
Fat-shaming occurs when a person is harassed and criticized about their eating habits or weight to the point where it makes them feel sad or ashamed of themselves. Even though the goal is to motivate these young individuals to eat less, engage in work out, and lose weight, this isn’t always the case.
In most cases, the person who is doing the fat-shaming never has to bother about their weight because they are not struggling with any weight complications. Studies have shown that most of the internet topics include fat shaming, which sometimes turns into cyberbullying and harassment against young people.
There are also communities online (pages and groups) dedicated to making fun of people with one physical defect or the other, especially overweight people. Notwithstanding, discrimination and stigma against overweight people can lead to significant psychological trauma that may only worsen the problem.
Discrimination and stigma can lead to mental and physical stress that can directly affect young people on the receiving end. The pressure can also push them to eat even more as a way to console themselves.
A recent study involving 93 women exposed to weight-stigmatizing content showed that overweight individuals felt less in control and consumed more calories. Further research in 73 women who were overweight and exposed to a stigmatizing video showed that they ate calories three times more than women who watched a non-stigmatizing video.
This only proves that any form of fat-shaming young people would only trigger the need to eat more due to stress caused by stigmatization.
Elevated risk of obesity
There is enough proof to support the connection between weight discrimination in young people and the potential risk of obesity and weight gain. An observation of over non-obese 6,000 people who experienced discrimination was twice more likely to become obese later in their lives.
Additionally, young obese people who experience stigmatization were three times more likely to remain obese. This is proof that the effect of body-shaming in young people is less likely to motivate weight-loss.
The negative effect of stigmatizing young obese people include:
- Eating disorder: Young people who are frequently fat-shamed have an increased risk of eating disorders that may include binge eating
- Depression: Discriminated young people can quickly develop depression, amongst other mental health issues
- Reduced self-esteem: Young obese people who are generally discriminated can become socially awkward and exercise reduced self-esteem
- Others: Mental and physical stress caused by weight discrimination can lead to high cortisol levels, weight gain, and mental disorders that can maximize the risk of several chronic diseases
Risk of suicide
Since weight discrimination can lead to chronic depression levels, the rate of suicide among young people is still very high. Many studies have shown that depression is prevalent in young people with physical anomalies – especially those with weight issues.
One of the leading causes of increased risk of suicide is depression. A study in over 2,000 people with severe obesity cases showed a very high chance of suicidal behavior, with some going ahead with it. This is proof that body-shaming in young people does more harm than good.
Stigmatization and discrimination is a form of bullying that not only motivates an affected person to eat more but can also cause reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, depression. It can also maximise the risk of numerous physical and mental complications, including bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating, and more.
Experts have predicted that if the stereotyping is not addressed with extreme seriousness, children’s chances of growing into adults with these disorders are very high. This can lead to frightening cases of social insecurity that may affect one in every five adults.
Another fear is that stereotyping may lead to higher levels of the suicide rate among young people. Suppose young people feel they aren’t beautiful enough or skilled enough or smart enough and are continually being judged by society. In that case, they may resolve to more demeaning ways to feel better. This includes taking their lives.
The Harmful Effects of Fat Shaming – healthline