Dealing with body shaming and weight discrimination for good mental health

Dealing with body shaming and weight discrimination for good mental health

“You can’t join us for the party. You are too fat and ugly.”

Sounds familiar? The emphasis laid down on having a sculpted and beautiful body by the society has led to many becoming a victim of body shaming practices. It is commonly practiced by bullies at work, at school or in public places, putting slender figures on a pedestal. Watching the seemingly perfect pictures of peers and celebrities on social media is also instrumental in leaving obese people feeling ashamed and worthless.

In many cases, it leads to mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and self-harm behavior. The conventional definition of the perfect body-type or body-weight makes clear anything else that does not match the norms deserves to be ridiculed and discriminated, causing stress and increased risk of mortality among such individuals.

As overweight people increasingly became easy targets of cyber-bullying, Reddit, an American web content rating and discussion website, closed down its fatpeoplehate forum to stop harassment. The same society that is blamed for being insensitive towards such issues, some people are standing up against the injustices.

Plus-size models improving women’s mental well-being

Plus-size models like Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine are walking the ramp with exuberating confidence and creating ripples in the fashion world. Graham made history by landing on the February 2017 cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue while Huffine appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue, American Vogue and Glamour in 2015. Their refusal to accord to the accepted standards of beauty is more than just an attempt to get back at the bullies and the critiques. It is becoming a movement to help women in distress get a boost to their mental health by seeing realistic bodies.

A study from Florida State University (FSU), published in the Communication Monographs on June 7, 2017, used psychophysiological measures to determine how women respond to models of different sizes, where 49 women with an actual-ideal self-discrepancy indicated the desire to be thinner, drew more comparisons, and came out with lesser body satisfaction when showed thin models. On the other hand, the outcome was completely the opposite when the participants were shown average and plus-size models as they reported higher levels of body satisfaction. The research offers a new approach in improving women’s psychological health and improving feelings linked to body image.

This shows the changing face of the fashion industry which has seen a lot of growth in recent years, a growth of five percent between 2013-14, where plus-size clothing generated $17.5 billion by the end of April 2014 compared to $16.7 billion in the previous year. But this shouldn’t undermine the prevalence of obesity and its effects on mental and cardiovascular health. Based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the growing rate of obesity peaked at  37.7 percent of adults between 2013-14 where more than two out of three adults were overweight or obese. Such people are more prone to experiencing depression and other mental illnesses arising from physical health conditions, and social and personal isolation.

Help at hand

A healthy body doesn’t mean being thin. It implies a good balance between body weight and height, supplemented with good diet, peaceful mind and overall well-being. Sound mental health is the key to living a healthy and happy life. Mental illnesses can have a severe impact on a person’s life, both personally and professionally. Thereby, it is important to get the symptoms diagnosed and treated by trained professionals at the earliest.

The Florida Mental Health Helpline is the best mental health helpline in Florida that can provide information about various treatment modalities at the finest facilities near you. Call our helpline (866) 846-5588 or chat with an expert to know about the best centers offering mental disorder treatment in Florida.

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