Body image issues are all around us…from the skinny models we see on the catwalks and in magazines to the victims, often children, we see maimed in war zones. There are of course many people scarred by surgery for cancer or living with body changes due to other health conditions, accidents or injuries. These issues may appear only “skin deep” to some but can be an overwhelming source of misery for many.
I recently watched a film called “Embrace” which was great at highlighting different body image issues. It explores how the media viewed these issues and included a lot of interviews of models, magazine editors, etc. It starts after a woman posts a before and after photo of herself on facebook…but the after photo is once she has put on a lot of weight, which is not the norm. She had worked out a lot and entered body beautiful competitions, but then decided it took up too much time, energy and obsessing. She also didn’t want her daughter to feel so body conscious and grow up believing it was so important. It was shocking to see the misogynistic comments she received on social media as a result.
The film also looked at the issue of fashion models, staying thin by not eating, some of whom suffer with anoxeria. The desire to be perfect drives this illness and emotional difficulties and stress can increase its effects. These models and women who read fashion magazines are in an unrealistic world where they are bombarded by images of women that are photo shopped…they don’t even exist in real life – as waists are thinned down, legs are lengthened and breasts are enlarged.
Around the same time I coincidentally visited a private psychiatric hospital and listened to a talk on anorexia nervosa, which included a patient’s experience. This condition seems to be affecting a growing number of even younger girls these days. In a week where Prince Harry has spoken out about mental health illness it was inspiring to see a multi-disciplinary team approach which teaches them other strategies for dealing with their emotional issues, such as talking and being listened to in a supportive environment.
In the film there were also some examples of people with a positive body image including a woman who had been severely burnt in an Australian bush fire. These women had learnt to become very confident having overcome feeling self-conscious by developing empowering beliefs and good self-esteem.
Although most women may not require treatment for anorexia, there are thousands who have a loathing of their body, as seen on the film, despite having a very healthy feminine shape. I include myself in this category, in my younger years, when I faced some life challenges. Despite being very slim at the time I considered myself fat. Later in life I had a style session and learnt what styles suited me and lots of helpful tips. As I had a love of clothes I then went on to train in this area so I could help others. Fashion dishes out continually changing trends in an attempt to have us spend, spend, spend due to our consumerist society. Yet these trends don’t suit us all equally. Style is about knowing what shapes, designs and accessories enhance and flatter your body shape and personality. If you know and follow these, you will always look good.
As an image consultant my business ConfidentlyYou aims to help people, mainly women, increase their own confidence in how they look and feel. I have had clients with all sorts of issues who have used various services and been able to accept and love themselves more. They go away with helpful guidelines on colours and styles which suit them and advice on skin care products and make up too. They learn what works better for them and so have a more positive focus and feel more confident. As I am also a trained coach I find using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or Tapping, Neuro Lingistic Programming and affirmations greatly helpful in the process too.
I will be running some style workshops in the near future with group interaction. If you would like to know more these or about any of my services please contact me or take a look at my website www.confidentlyyou.co.uk
Katie James is an Image consultant, well-being coach, mentor and Eft practitioner and is based in Bramley, Hampshire