Jon Kemp: body image

Published on: 12th August 2019

Rolls were something I would previously cut open, line with butter and fill with an array of tasty meats.  I bet a pound though you read the title of this blog you thought this would be about fatness and thinness.  Well, I hope as we read on it might broaden things a little.

Anyone remember the diet coke adverts; you know the one with the skinny women all eyeing the half-naked man whose pouring diet coke all over a granite chiselled torso.  We are flooded with images through the media of what looks attractive and what we should look like.  This pressure to look a certain way can impact on some people’s lives and be a contributing factor in the development of some mental health problems.  We are all different shapes and sizes and some due to reasons beyond our control.

Think about women who have mastectomies or the veteran who returns from the toils of war with mangled or missing limbs.  Male or female the loss of body part, and its surrounding circumstance can have a lasting impact on the way they view their body.  Any loss, perceived or actual, can be a trigger for depression and it’s easy to put the pieces together to see how the loss of a body part may impact your mental health.

What about the mammoth task of creating a baby.  Women’s bodies go through backflips in a nine-month period.  They expand and change shape, skin can stretch, breasts change and multiple other changes brought on by the influx of hormones.  The baby is then born and suddenly then the pressures on to lose the baby weight.  There continues to be an increased awareness brought to the subject of maternal mental health in recent years and body image changes are one of many hurdles this group have to go through.

A somewhat lesser-known mental health problem is known are body dysmorphia. In this disorder, people become obsessed with a perceived flaw in their appearance.  These flaws are often unnoticeable to other people.  These patients often go to great lengths to conceal the perceived flaw including surgeries. 

Of course, when talking about body image I would be foolish not to bring in eating disorders. Eating disorders are a group of disorders where patient become obsessed with the over-evaluation of their size shape and weight.  Patients with these problems don’t always have to be underweight and some are often obese.  Typical behaviour that this patient group might engage in is calorie restriction, vomiting after food, eating large amounts of food quickly or laxative use.

It’s not uncommon for people to not to feel totally comfortable with your body image.  The way we feel and think about our bodies can change and fluctuate over time.  As I eluded to in my opening statement my size and shape has changed since I hit thirty.  Much like many others I’ve found it harder to keep the pounds clambering on as my age has gone up.  This has at times meant having to sit with some uncomfortable emotions.

Common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression impact one in four people and do not discriminate whatever our body image.  Eating disorders are not the only mental health problem that can be associated with body image and all of the above problems can be treated.  If you think you are suffering from an anxiety or depression problem please refer through our online website or visit your GP to discuss it.