Late-night TV host James Corden—he himself admittedly overweight—called out fellow TV host Bill Maher last year for asking fat shaming “to make a comeback.” Maher said that there are too many overweight and obese people that they should be fat-shamed to lose weight and exercise more. Corden made a valid point in his rebuttal. He said that if making fun of people to lose weight worked, there would be no fat kids in school.
Fat shaming has never led to healthy eating habits. In fact, over time, fat-shamed people often have to seek bulimia treatment. They’d be so embarrassed about their weight that they would eat as much as they could (because of the stress of bullying) before purging themselves of it (because they were ashamed to have eaten that much again).
Making fun of people for being overweight or obese has never helped these people. They end up feeling ashamed, embarrassed, anxious, depressed, and suicidal. They seek food more because they think that they couldn’t do anything about it. When they are bullied in school because of their weight, they go home feeling weak and unimportant. They want to make themselves feel better, and eating is the only way to do that for them.
Increased Risks of Mental Illness
The effects of body shaming go beyond increased weight. It also affects people mentally. They suffer through many stages of mental illness—from reduced self-esteem, eating disorders, to depression. While some people end up eating more to make themselves feel good, others starve themselves so that they will lose weight. Neither of these is a healthy eating habit.
On the one hand, obese people have increased risk to suffer from heart illnesses, diabetes, and hypertension. People who suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia lose important nutrients. This will make them susceptible to a host of illnesses such as kidney and liver problems.
And then there is an increased risk of depression. People who are discriminated against because of their weight are at a higher risk of being depressed. At times, they may feel suicidal because of the lack of acceptance from their peers. Even the simple act of asking, “When do you plan to lose weight?” could have a damning effect on someone’s mental health.
Fat shaming comes in many forms. You might not even notice that you are body-shaming a friend. You could even be body-shaming yourself without realizing it. For example, you kept on comparing your body to others and pointing out your flaws. You could also be passing off criticism as a joke. If you do this before a group of people, that makes it worse. Finally, criticizing a person’s appearance behind that person’s back is also a form of body shaming.
Break the Toxicity
Social media often adds to the toxicity of shaming people because of their appearance. If you are a victim of body shaming, stay away from social media for a while and work on your confidence. If you want to lose weight, do it for yourself and not for others. Lose weight healthily, and don’t try to follow those diet fads you’ve been hearing about. Have a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Those are the only two things you need to know about losing weight.
If you are the one discriminating people, find it in your heart to understand what your words are doing to them. Read up about weight issues. You’ll find that it’s more than just overeating. Obesity can be predetermined at birth because of genetic, psychological, and socioeconomic factors.