am a psychologist who has studied body image for over 20 years, and I’ve seen how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect health and well-being in numerous ways, including body image. Gyms were closed. Self-care rituals may have fallen by the wayside as stress and hardships like homeschooling and strained finances piled up. The pandemic also took away a major way people cope: social supportthrough physical contact.
Pandemic stress has led many people to turn to other coping mechanisms, with some harmful to both physical and mental health. In one study of 5,469 adults in Australia, 35 percent reported increased binge eating, or eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time, due to pandemic life. In another study of 365 adults in Italy, 25.7 percent reported increased emotional eating over the course of lockdown. And in a survey of 3,000 adults in the U.S., 61 percent experienced undesired weight changes since the start of the pandemic. It’s no wonder that people may feel anxiety over what others think about their changed appearance.
Excerpted from Popular Science