herald

Friday 18 August 2017

Women need to look to themselves over body image issues

When was the last time you stood in front of a mirror naked and did a full 360 degrees? And when was the last time that you were happy with the reflection?

Pretty much every woman I know believes they are at least one dress size away from being happy, getting that guy or that job.

That 10 pounds or so ago, they could have been a contender. A study published in the UK this week found that more than 10 million British women 'feel depressed' because of the way they look.

It comes during Body Confidence Week.

Another quarter say anxiety about the way they look has stopped them going for a job, while 26pc struggle to stick to exercise regimes and a quarter skip meals to lose weight.

The study also claims that 1 in 4 women feel their body image has held them back from having a fulfilling relationship, while 36pc say they don't exercise because of the way they feel they look.

So we're literally sacrificing our health on the altar of insecurity. Join the dots and it's clear that women are in the middle of an epidemic of a crisis of confidence.

So why do we hate our bodies so much? I guess it's because of an omnipresent, subliminal, drip drip, photoshopped, skinny App-ed message that what you look like as a woman, matters.

My two-year-old daughter has already cottoned on to this and will 'twirl' without hesitation. Well, everyone she meets starts with "you're so pretty" or "that dress is so pretty". She hasn't reached her third birthday and already I'm conscious of her linking her looks to self esteem.

But women need to look to themselves too about colluding with the things that are reinforcing insecurity. Stop obsessing over images of celebrities.

We're either fat-shaming them or slamming them for being irresponsibly underweight.

Magazines, selfies, online imagery, music videos; almost everyone's who's 'hot' and 'now' has been airbrushed into a total body makeover that can only be achieved by photographers pushing buttons.

A couple of clicks and what was once a picture, becomes a portrait. An edited, counterfeit image of what the person actually looks like.

STUDIES

Dozens of scientific studies show that exposure to unrealistic bodies leads to body dissatisfaction, negative thoughts and feelings about the body for the great majority of girls and women.

But we know about photoshopping. Because we do it ourselves.

Perhaps it's time that ordinary women stopped uploading selfies that are only taken from the best angle, that have been slimmed, brightened and tampered with.

Then maybe we wouldn't have to have a Body Confidence week in the first place.

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