Body Shaming in an Age of Social Media

Body Shaming in an Age of Social Media: What Is Body Shaming?

The word “shame” comes from the Latin root “shapare”, which means to hide or cover up. The term was first used in English around 1670 when it came into use as a verb meaning to conceal something, usually by hiding it under another object (as with a cloak). In the 1800’s, the term became associated with shame and embarrassment. Today, the word is often used to refer to feelings of self-consciousness, guilt or even disgust.

Shame is a powerful emotion. Shame can cause us to do things we would not normally consider doing; such as avoid situations that might involve risk or discomfort, change our behavior in ways that are less socially acceptable, or stop performing certain actions because they may result in negative consequences.

Shame can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

Shame can have many different effects on our lives. For example, some studies show that shame leads to poor physical health outcomes including higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Other research shows that shame can affect our relationships with others negatively, leading to increased levels of domestic violence and sexual assault. And finally, there are psychological consequences of shame such as low self-esteem and anxiety disorders.

So what does all this mean?

It means that body shaming has widespread effects on the lives of others. It can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes, as well as affect one’s relationships with others.

Body Shaming Statistics

There are many troubling statistics concerning body shaming. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 90% of women and some men report sometimes feeling unhappy with their bodies.

In the United States, over half a million people are treated for an eating disorder at any given time. In the United States, every 51 minutes, a girl between the ages of 10-14 attempts suicide related to body image.

Other facts from NEDA show that every day in the United States, over 1000 breakfast cereals are marketed to children, nearly 40% of which are for a sugary cereal. The average person in the United States eats 14 lbs.

of sugar every week; in 1900, that number was only 7 lbs. That’s a 71% increase in sugar consumption in under 100 years.

In the United States, it is common for people to get married, and gain weight. In fact, most people in the U.S.

put on weight after their weddings. In the 1920s, film stars were much thinner than average people; by the 1990s, film stars were about 20% thinner than average people. This shows how much pressure there is on people to be thin.

Body Shaming & Teens

Teens are particularly susceptible to body shaming due to the fact that their brains are not yet developed enough to recognize certain emotions (such as shame) as being irrational or unnecessary. In addition, teens are especially prone to peer pressure, and may engage in risky behavior such as dieting in order to be accepted by their peers.

One of the main reasons for this is due to how our society is structured.

Sources & references used in this article:

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American girls: Social media and the secret lives of teenagers by NJ Sales – 2016 –

Revolution in the age of social media: The Egyptian popular insurrection and the Internet by L Herrera – 2014 –

Justice and revenge in online counter-publics: Emerging responses to sexual violence in the age of social media by M Salter – Crime, Media, Culture, 2013 –

Body Shaming in the Era of Social Media by L Cassidy – … Perspectives on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms …, 2019 –

Sharenting: Children’s privacy in the age of social media by SB Steinberg – Emory LJ, 2016 – HeinOnline

The conversational firm: Rethinking bureaucracy in the age of social media by CJ Turco – 2016 –

Why a negative body image? A study on gender, social media, and mass media by TB Teeters – 2018 –