Sunday, June 24, 2012

Uncomfortable in our skin: the body-image report

I loved this article so much, I decided to edit out a few thoughts. Ken Uncomfortable in our skin: the body-image report - Eva Wiseman "Body image is a subjective experience of appearance. It's an accumulation of a lifetime's associations, neuroses and desires, projected on to our upper arms, our thighs. At five, children begin to understand other people's judgement of them. At seven they're beginning to show body dissatisfaction. As adults 90% of British women feel body-image anxiety. And it doesn't wane – many women in their 80s are still anxious about the way their bodies look which . . . can even affect their treatment in hospital, when their health choices are influenced by aesthetics. Many young women say they are too self-aware to exercise; many say they drink to feel comfortable with the way they look; 50% of girls smoke to suppress their appetite – is it too strong to suggest that these things, these anxieties, are slowly killing them? . . . [the] current "airbrushing" culture leads to huge self-esteem problems – half of all 16- to 21-year-old women would consider cosmetic surgery and in the past 15 years eating disorders have doubled. . . The long-term effects, the piling on of pressures one by one, like a dangerous Jenga tower, means women's – and increasingly men's, 69% of whom "often" wish they looked like someone else – lives are being damaged, not by the way they look but by the way they feel about the way they look. . . Rates of depression in women and girls doubled between 2000 and 2010; the more women self-objectify, the more likely they are to be depressed. . . The pressure, the girls agree, is not, in fact, to be skinny – instead it's to look sexy. "Hot." . . . until now, everybody has talked about thinness and control, rather than changing your body to attract a boy. . . Both the cosmetic surgery and the cosmeceutical industries (anti-ageing products) are growing, fast. It's these industries, along with the fashion houses, the diet companies, the food conglomerates which own the diet companies, the exercise and fitness industry, and the pharmaceutical and cosmetic surgery industries that combine, perhaps inadvertently, to create a climate in which girls and women come to feel that their bodies are not OK. . . "I do think we should be prosecuting the diet industry for false advertising. If dieting worked, you'd only have to do it once. There is evidence that diets may in fact contribute to fat storage and that, in giving a sense that food is 'dangerous', create conditions for rebellion, which eventually makes people fatter than they were to start with." (Ormand) . . . "Eating becomes a means of communication . . . We're socialised to be negative about our bodies . . . fat talk . . . everyday conversation that reinforces the 'thin ideal' and contributes to our dissatisfaction. Like: 'You look great – have you lost weight?' Or, on being offered a bun: 'Ooh, I really shouldn't.' After three minutes of fat talk there's evidence that our body dissatisfaction increases significantly. Naming this – fat talk – makes much sense to me." (Dr Phillippa Diedrichs) . . . We hate how we look because of our new, complicated visual culture, because of a fashion industry that has not adapted, a media that forensically analyses women's bodies and saturates our culture with body-change stories. Because of the rise of cognitive eating, the increasing abilities and accessibility of cosmetic surgery. Because to be feminine, today, means to hate your body."


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