Is Your Body Image Affecting Your Career?

We all know that women are bombarded with unrealistic body images on a daily basis and that one conversation guaranteed to get every woman going is listing what’s wrong with their bodies! Never mind the ‘does my bum look big in this’, if you stood for just ten minutes in a women’s changing cubicle you’d hear plenty of wails about our bodies. ‘I hate my arms’ ‘I wish I was taller/younger/thinner/had better skin/shapely calves or thin ankles/’etc.

Knowing it , however, does not seem to stop any of us doing it, however stupid and daft we may know it to be.

Research shows  (Professor Nichola Rumsey and Dr Diana Harcourt) that women’s body image is an accumulation of a lifetime’s associations, neuroses and desires. At age 5 children begin to understand other people’s judgement of them; at 7 they are beginning to show body disatisfaction. As adults 90% of British women feel body image anxiety. And this anxiety about how we look doesn’t stop with many women over 80 still feeling anxious (not interested but actually anxious) about how their bodies look.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom has made a documentary called Miss Representation which backs up this research. Her documentary is about the under-representation of women in power-women who are high ‘self objectifiers‘ have low political power. They’re less likely to run in politics, and less likely to vote. How they look is not necessarily holding them back, but how they feel about they look.

It’s a massively complicated issue but ask yourself this one question:

“Have my feelings about what other people will think of my appearance stopped me doing something I wanted to?”

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Posted on June 12th, 2012 by

8 Responses to “Is Your Body Image Affecting Your Career?”

  1. Shona Easton says:

    Hi Jane,

    I’ve read this twice now,once this morning and just now. I think I can honestly answer no!

    I was waiting to see what other commenters had to say but I don’t see any yet so here goes!

    In my particular case – I wonder if the ‘research’ is all UK based. And if so, maybe that is why I feel as I do (or maybe I just have amazing parents!). You see I was out of the UK between age 5 and 8, so perhaps I missed the (horrible) comments that can come from other kids when they start to notice these things? I am wondering now. You have got me thinking, thanks!

    • Jane says:

      But that’s brilliant Shona, to say that you’ve never had any body image anxieties. More power to you!

  2. Shona Easton says:

    I am definitely not perfect but over the years I have also noticed that everyone IS different – no 2 people are the same. So, you may as well get happy with what you have! It makes life great!!!
    It’s better to live a life thinking you are ‘great’ than to live a life wishing you were a different shape/person.

  3. I’ve suffered with alopecia for many years and to be honest on some days it can get the better of me. On the other hand it has helped me to appreciate that beauty does come from within and that’s something I try to pass on to my young daughters. I think women are under incredible pressure to look a certain way, so being able to accept yourself for who you are as a whole person and not as an image is important.

    • Jane says:

      Absolutely! And when we don’t fit the standard norm it’s even worse. Well done you. Beauty truly does come from within but it takes us time to learn that.

  4. Interesting. I was also raised overseas (mainly Germany) and then went to an all-girls school and don’t have any worries about my body image so perhaps it is something in our culture.

    It isn’t a question of how you look but how you feel about yourself.

    • Jane says:

      I think you’re right, Della. The research shows it didn’t matter how women looked but how they felt about how they looked. See Shona’s comments below too. Interesting!

  5. Shona Easton says:

    I love all the comments Jane. Fabulous of you for opening up a conversation on a (sometimes) difficult subject. 🙂

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