Body Shaming: What’s Wrong with My Body?
If you've ever watched the Victoria's Secret Fashion show and wished your body was as toned or tanned as the supermodels you see, you're not alone. But feeling like you should have the supermodel figure is not only unrealistic, it's potentially detrimental to your physical and mental health.
"In obesity medicine, it's actually called weight bias," says Paula Lafranconi, MD, Medical Director for TriHealth Women's Center. Bodies are naturally different sizes and shapes, but there's societal pressure for women, especially, to be thin and shaped like a models.
This thinking can lead to body shaming, the judgement from others (or yourself) that a person isn't good enough if they don't meet expectations of perfection set by television, magazines, and other media. Weight is a common target in body shaming.
Impact on Overall Health
"People tend to not come to the doctor as often because they're embarrassed to be weighed. They're worried that they're going to be criticized or blamed if they're not losing weight," says Dr. Lafranconi. "It becomes this vicious cycle-people are worried about going to the doctor, which can cause stress. Stress is a big factor that triggers eating, and then they don't come in to see what they can be doing to be healthy."
Fat cells are very active in producing inflammatory substances, which can yield inflammation in a person's body as they gain weight.
"As people gain weight, they become insulin resistant and at risk of developing diabetes and heart disease," says Dr. Lafranconi.
How to Overcome Weight Bias
#1. Understand Your Body
It's important to make a conscious effort to understand all the mechanisms in your body that affect your ability to gain or lose weight; it's so much more complicated than self-control and exercise. Talk to your doctor and try and understand yourself.
#2. Practice Acceptance
Learn to accept yourself! Find an aspect of your body that you love, and embrace it. Whether it's your personality, hair or eyes, it's important to find something that makes you feel confident.
#3. Celebrate Life!
Surround yourself with positivity. Learn how to compliment not only yourself, but others on things that are positive. Dr. Lafranconi also recommends finding a blog that sends out positive messages, "There really are a lot out there, and they can be extremely encouraging," she says.
Last Updated: September 22, 2016