This Study Just Revealed Body Shame May Be Even More Harmful Than We Thought


Body shame may be making people sick, according to new Bucknell University research.

Shame about one's body when it doesn't live up to idealized body standards may lead to feeling "less responsive to their bodies," and could result in someone doing "a worse job of evaluating how healthy they are," according to the Huffington Post. In those with high levels of body shame, this increased lack of responsiveness and poor health evaluation, which the studies tied to high rates of incidents of infections and decreased self-rated health.

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This research is not the first to note that deleterious physical effects correlate with body shame. One notable 2014 study also found that shame not only fails to encourage individuals to lose weight, but causes physical harm by exacerbating weight gain, the Washington Post reports

Other research has found that body shame also has harmful emotional and psychological effects. Previous studies have demonstrated that young women especially internalize body shame and incorporate these damaging messages into their own self-conception. One 2014 study found that playing with Barbies, whose physical proportions are impossible, actually shaped young girls' career aspirations, and others support the finding that idealized media messages often result in shame and self-objectification.


This research not only lends solid support to the case for ending body-shaming wherever and whenever it occurs, but also shows why concerted body-positive efforts are truly valuable. Campaigns like #effyourbeautystandards or individual clap-backs, like "curvy" blogger Jenny Rushmore's recent viral comments, are not just about encouraging women to feel good (as important as that is): They may also provide a valuable contribution to women's actual physical health.

It's high time we abolish the myth that shaming others will produce any result other than harm, and accept that embracing bodies of all size is the right thing to do — from a moralistic perspective as well as one of health and well-being.