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Effects Of Body Shaming Leading To Depression Among Women

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Have you been humiliated by people when they comment on your appearance? You have become so fat? Why you are so thin, parents don’t feed you? Hence, these lead to body shame. Body shame can be defined as the way in which an indivual is humiliated by their weight or body size.

Body image disturbance has become so prevalent in women that it shows discontent with physical appearance on the part of women and leading to negative emotion.

Body shaming can be done in various ways such as:

  • Critizing appearance by passing through comments.
  • By comparing with other people and passing judgment on the basis of that.
  • Critizing on people appearance without any knowledge. For example when they comment on clothes.

Almost every female has been body shamed irrespective of religion or caste. One is too thin, too fat or too flat, but they never say that you are perfect.

Body shame is a concept that is used for the individuals’ self-conscious, negative Emotional response against one’s self. It appears in the individuals’ misstep to meet the ideal body standards, and the acknowledgement of this failure. For women in the western countries, the ideal body contains standards for outward appearance,

For an example thinness and youth. Because meeting these standards is important, women may internalize or self-objectify these standards. Many women may feel that they do not meet these standards, resulting in a negative self-directed emotions and one of these emotions is body shame.

Shame related to our bodies is an emotional state that can be quite painful. This may originate from a social rejection from others, as well as the fear of inducting disgust.

Objectification Theory as it relates to body shame and depression, and to this writer’s knowledge, none have examined the specific explanatory power of hopelessness depression. A study from Australia found support for the role of appearance anxiety and body shame mediating the relationship between self-objectification and depression in college-aged women (Tiggemann & Kuring, 2004). In another study, published in 2007, a path analysis revealed a similar relationship between self-objectification and depression with appearance anxiety and body shame playing a mediational role (Szymanski &Henning, 2007). However, each of these studies used a general measure of depression:the Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock & Erbaugh, 1961) and the Self-rating Depression Scale (Zung & Zung, 1986), respectively.

A more recent study, also using a general measure of depression, found further evidence of the link between self-objectification and depressive symptoms (Grabe & Hyde, 2009). In this study, self-objectification mediates the relationship between music television viewing and a number of body-related consequences, including increased depressive symptoms. While the connection between self-objectification and depression is becoming clearer in the literature, the potential for hopelessness depression, a sub-type of depression, to strengthen the relationship between these variables seems apparent given seems apparent given the close theoretical link between body shame and hopelessness

Review of Literature

Body Image and Depression

In a study of adolescent girls, Rierdan and Koff (1997) found that the weight related dimensions of body image dissatisfaction were associated with an increase in depressive symptoms, independent of objective weight status. There were girls who showed depressive symptoms because there were various reasons to it such as being bullied or making fun of their body image. Adolescence is age where the kids are so vulnerable and there are so many changes happening internally. Hence, many of them showed depressive symptoms.

Stice et al. (2000) found further evidence that body dissatisfaction predicts the onset of major depression. This study helped to determine whether body dissatisfaction was a cause or consequence of depression by employing a longitudinal analysis. The researchers were able to control for initial depressive symptoms and therefore make a strong inference about the direction of events such that body dissatisfaction precedes and thus predicts the onset of depression.

One of the most intense periods in the lifespan for changes in body image and satisfaction can be puberty. That this change results in an increased satisfaction for girls and decreased satisfaction for boys, may be rooted in the fact that puberty moves girls 17 further away from the thin ideal but moves boys closer to the culturally prescribed muscular male ideal (Stice, 2003).

Shame driven by one’s feelings toward their body is a similar yet distinct construct from body dissatisfaction. While both body shame and body dissatisfaction encompass an individual’s negative thoughts and emotions toward their body, shame has a wider meaning. Shame is not simply negative feelings about the body, but about the self in general (McKinley & Hyde, 1996).

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Bartky (1990) argues that the amount of body shame that a woman has to experience corresponds to the culture standards. It is the internalization of these standards and failure to live up to them that produce negative relationship with one’s body and in turn and oneself. Due to this research on Objectification theory started. But there is a major difference between self-objectification and body dissatisfaction.


To understand the impact of body-shaming leading to depression among the adolescents, identify if these vary by overweight/underweight status, gender difference, or socio-economic status.


The following objectives to be achieved are:

  • To examine the role of body shaming and depression.
  • To explore the negative effects of body shaming and investigate if it true among women of all ages.
  • The role of internet and body shamming issues.
  • To carry out various assessments to check if there are any other psychological illness, rate of objectivity and depression.

Sample design

Although, the purpose of the study is to find a relation between body-shaming and depression. The study focuses on women in shantinagar, Bangalore who have been body shamed and that has led to depression. The women will be taken into the sample by using convenience sampling technique.

Sample size: 60 women from the age 13-35.


The sample would include sixty women from the age of 13 to 35 years old from Shantinagar, Bangalore. The experiment would have voluntary participation and based on convenience sampling. Hence, all the participants from this area would be invited to participate in this study.


The Objectified Body Consciousness Scale (OBCS)

Body shame was measured using the The Objectified Body Consciousness Scale (OBCS), which is a self-report measure of body consciousness. The scale has a total of 24 statements and three subscales, including body surveillance, body shame and appearance control beliefs.

Hopelessness Depression Symptoms Questionnaire (HDSQ) (Metalsky & Joiner, 1991).

The HDSQ is a scale measuring the specific symptom constellation of hopelessness depression. The measure was created out of the authors’ belief that using extant measures 36 of depression did not provide a precise enough picture of the symptoms associated with hopelessness depression.

Measures and covariates

Participant’s response to the study would be measured through an online computerized data collection system (Google- Forms). Participants would receive a website link from email that directed them to an online questionnaires that will take approximately an hour to complete. A description of the study and the contact information of the research investigators would appear on the website. Willing participants then provided informed consent before giving their response to the questionnaire.

To enhance the quality of measurement it is necessary that the investigator has training on OBSC and HDSQ.


Participant’s response to the study would be measured through an online computerized data collection system (Google- Forms). Participants would receive a website link from email that directed them to an online questionnaires that will take approximately an hour to complete. A description of the study and the contact information of the research investigators would appear on the website. Willing participants then provided informed consent before giving their response to the questionnaire.

To ensure participants are attending to the questionnaire content, I would like to embed three validity questions in the questionnaire to ensure participants are not randomly responding or being inattentive (e.g., “Please answer if you are paying attention.”). Any participants who fail to respond to any of the validity items will not be included in data analyses. Participants are free to complete the questionnaire at their convenience through any access point to the Internet.

Research Design

The research study would use quasi-experimental research, the researcher manipulates an independent variable but does not randomly assign participants to conditions or orders of conditions.


  1. Bartky, S.L. (1990). Femininity and domination: Studies in the phenomenology of oppression. New York, NY: Routledge
  2. Cash, T. F. & Henry, P. E. (1995). Women's body images: The results ofa national survey in the U.S.A. Sex Roles, 33, 19-28.
  3. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173-206. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.
  4. Grabe, S. & Hyde, J.S. (2009). Body objectification, mtv, and psychological outcomes among female adolescents. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 12, 2840-2858.
  5. McKinley, N.M. & Hyde, J.S. (1996). The objectified body consciousness scale: Development and validation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 181-215.
  6. Miner-Rubino, K., Twenge, J. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2002). Trait self-objectification in women: Affective and personality correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 36(2), 147-172. doi:10.1006/jrpe.2001.2343
  7. Metalsky, G.I. & Joiner, Jr., T.E. (1997). The hopelessness depression symptom questionnaire. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21(3), 359-384.
  8. Rierdan, J. & Koff, E. (1997). Weight, weight-related aspects of body image, and depression in early adolescent girls. Adolescence, 32(127), 327-335.
  9. Stice, E., Hayward, C., Cameron, R.P., Killen, J.D. & Taylor, C.B. (2000). Body-image and eating disturbances predict onset of depression among female adolescents: A longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109(3), 438-444.
  10. Stice, E. (2003). Puberty and body image. In C. Hayward. (Ed.), Gender differences at puberty. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  11. Tiggemann, M. & Kuring, J.K. (2004). The role of body objectification in disordered eating and depressed mood. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 299-311.
  12. Zung, W. W., & Zung, E. M. (1986). Use of the Zung Self-rating Depression Scale in the elderly. Clinical Gerontologist, Vol 5(1-2) Jun 1986, 137-14.
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Body Shaming. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from
“Body Shaming.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Body Shaming. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2023].
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