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Body Shaming Could Be Making You Sick -- Literally

It's not just your heart that hurts.

It's no secret that from a very early age, an alarming number of girls (and boys) begin to harbor feelings of insecurity about their bodies. In fact, some researchers suggest these feelings start to manifest as young as 8 years old. There are, of course, emotional and psychological ramifications that stem from body dissatisfaction, but new studies from Bucknell University found there could be another consequence of body shaming -- physical illness.

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The Huffington Post reports that in the first study, "177 undergraduate women [answered] a questionnaire, with statements like, 'When I'm not the size I think I should be, I feel ashamed,' 'I am confident that my body will let me know what is good for me' and 'I often feel vulnerable to sickness.'" The women were then asked how strongly they felt they related to each of the phrases.

The participants were then asked to asses their own physical health, and to share if they had experienced things such as headaches, nausea, diarrhea, or any infections (e.g. bronchitis, yeast infections, pneumonia).

The second study, The Huffington Post reports, "had 181 undergraduate women answer the same questionnaire from the first study at two points during the semester, once in September and once in December ('a time period in which infectious diseases such as the flu, bronchitis, etc., are expected to increase,' according to the researchers)."

So what happened? In both studies, the researchers found a correlation between high levels of reported body shame and higher number of infections and lower overall physical health

The researchers found that body image issues can cause physical health issues to manifest, "because those feelings may lead women to be less responsive to their bodies and do a worse job of evaluating how healthy they are."

TL;DR: Body shaming harms our bodies, literally.