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Are We Sacrificing Mental Health In Pursuit Of The Body Beautiful?

There is absolutely no getting away from it.  The age of the perfect body is upon us and the effects both positive and otherwise are having massive changes on our society.  The seduction of “celebrity” has a big role to play in this along with the never-ending supply of fashion magazines, the movie industry and the stratospheric rise of the “health food” and “healthy living” industries.

But, what impact is this having on our mental health as women?


Not that this should come as a surprise, but there are dozens of links between a healthy-self image and an overall level of mental well-being.  The impact that our self-image has on our mental health can go as deep as how that connection affects the ability to form relationships with others in a personal as well as professional sense.  Clearly, there are far-reaching implications.

The UK’s “Guardian” newspaper published this article, and it’s a very good read.

This connection becomes increasingly worrisome when you factor in the terrible numbers coming out concerning the rise in teenage depression that is directly linked to self-image concerns – largely driven by the rise and continued increase in the use of social media.  A study found that teens who spent more than 3 hours a day on social media were highly likely to develop “stress and anxiety” issues brought about by internalizing issues like self-image, weight control, loneliness etc, and it’s starting to affect more boys too.


It seems that our drive to achieve “the perfect body” in an attempt to have the outside match the “inside” is driving a massive rise in the demand for plastic surgery.  But, is it all bad?

Ostensibly, going for plastic surgery to correct a birth defect or fix minor issues that are having a debilitating effect on otherwise healthy self-image, is not necessarily the problem here.  Plastic surgery extends to reconstructive surgery after accidents or fires, or from other types of non-elective surgery.  Some mothers opt for surgery to enhance their look after pregnancy, take a look at this guide to having a tummy tuck for some of the many reasons women might go for a tummy tuck that’s not immediately related to “wanting to look good in a bathing suit”.

But none of these reasons is in and of themselves causing mental health problems, but rather the pursuit of plastic surgery in an attempt to address some forms of dysphoria outside of transgenderism is a real issue.

There is always a good reason to make sure that we’re indulging in a bit of self-care, but maybe it’s time that we started celebrating our natural, healthy forms as women instead of searching for the ideal of perfection.  We’ve learned so much about the impact that socio-psychological conditions have had on how women view themselves and all of these could contribute to our need to seem attractive to others, for social acceptance and for finding a mate.

So maybe it’s time, we changed the narrative.

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