It’s gotten to the point where we idolize being young, thin, and tan so much that body shaming is practically our national pastime.
However It turns out having a poor body image could also be hurting us physically. According to two studies published recently in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, people who are ashamed of their bodies are more likely to have poor health overall regardless of whether they are overweight or not.
The researchers started with the theory that if a woman is ashamed their body doesn’t meet the ideal they also feel ashamed of their natural bodily functions like eating, sweating, and menstruating. Women then deny their bodies normal care which ends up making them sick. Essentially the research says that when you don’t like your body, you don’t want to take care of it; something many of us have sadly experienced.
Which comes first then, do women first feel bad about their bodies and that leads to getting sick or do they get sick first and tank their self-esteem? The studies tested this by surveying over 300 young women and found that those reporting the highest amounts of shame had rated their health lower, got infections more often, and had more illness symptoms like headaches and diarrhea. This held true no matter their actual weight, which lead researchers to conclude that shame itself caused their poor physical health.
According to a separate British study body shaming does not help weight loss either. They found that even among people who believed that humiliation would encourage weight loss, the opposite is true. The study showed that a person shamed for their weight actually gained on average about three and a half pounds.
Clearly it’s past time to end body hate and accept that we are all beautiful in our own unique ways.