The Latest Effects of Weight-Shaming, According to Science
We ALL know why weight-shaming is bad. Or at least we SHOULD all know why weight-shaming is bad. Okay, let me break this thing down. Certain influential sectors of society have decided that anything larger than a compact/muscular/skinny body type is UNACCEPTABLE. People are made to feel ashamed about their bodies, loathe their BMIs and detest their metabolisms. Cultural beliefs suggest that bigger bodies are signs of negative traits (lack of self-control, motivation, and intelligence rank high on the list of completely untrue beliefs). And people are made to question their natural, incredible beauty because they don’t have a certain body type.
But wait, there’s more. A recent study in the UK tried to figure out what the real-world implications of weight-shaming were, and discovered that it can lead to weight gain. In a study of 3,000 people, subjects who reported weight discrimination—from harassment to poor treatment at restaurants or in doctors’ offices—tended to gain a small amount weight over a four-year-period as a result.
While we don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with gaining a few pounds, the study suggests that weight-shaming may have deep, unwanted psychological effects. And for those who are trying to lose weight for health reasons, it can be physically problematic.
According to researchers, weight-shaming may lead to unhealthy comfort eating, and a lack of confidence when it comes to working out.
“Our study clearly shows that weight discrimination is part of the obesity problem and not the solution,” Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Centre at University College London, stated. “Many obese patients report being treated disrespectfully by doctors because of their weight. Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight and offer support, and where appropriate, treatment.”
This isn’t the only study suggesting that weight-shaming might lead to weight gain. A 2013 study found that subjects who were not obese, who were shamed for their weight were 2.5 times more likely to become obese a few years later, compared to subjects who had not experienced weight discrimination.
I want to make it SUPER clear that I am not saying that gaining weight is a bad thing, and I’m not saying that gaining two pounds is a big deal. What I am saying, is that weight-shaming affects people both mentally and physically. And the effects aren’t just immediate, but long-lasting. Nobody should be shamed for their size, and nobody should have to deal with the repercussions of other people’s ignorance and insensitivity.
So let’s chill out a little bit re: judging other people’s bodies. Science is actually telling us to be nicer to one another. SCIENCE, you guys. We got to sit up and listen.