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Putting my neck on the line for the body fascists

Regional press news – this story published 2.1.2007

Putting my neck on the line for the body fascists
By Martin Freeman, Plymouth Herald

Page 2 of 2

Even have-it-all princesses turn to bulimia, convinced on the inside that their outside is outsize.

Others opt for the knife.

I know, I know; cosmetic surgery may be appropriate for some with severe disfigurements and those who really can’t get their head round their body shape.

But shouldn’t nipping and tucking and trimming and peeling be the last resort, rather than the first option for anybody with the cash to spare?

You can bang on all you like about the pressures that society places on us all to conform to body norms or current dippy fashions such as trying to squeeze into Size Zero jeans (presumably named because they fit nobody, apart from anorexics).

But, oh, the irony of telly drivel such as Channel 4’s Ten Years Younger, where cosmetic surgery is billed as an everyday treatment alongside having a haircut and buying a new shirt. The medium isn’t the message; it’s part of the massage of public opinion.

The right to have wonky teeth is fast being lost to us.

Once, rictus-grinning Hollywood stars and US TV presenters, their mouths crammed with production-line-perfect rows of blinding alpine-white enamel, were ridiculed on British telly. Now they are imitated.

So to console myself I donated my body to medical science. Well, my mind – or at least about 10 minutes for each of three days.

I signed up for a spot of body image therapy, courtesy of the University of Plymouth.

Researchers in the School of Psychology are evaluating ways to help people overcome body dissatisfaction and have put the call out to volunteers.

The deal is that you get to try one of two forms of positive ‘self-help’ being evaluated at the university.

Professor of Health Psychology Michael Hyland, who is leading the study, says: “In many cases, the problem isn’t with your body but with the way you think about it – in other words, you don’t need to change yourself, just the way you think about yourself.”

So I filled out their online questionnaire and downloaded my assigned ‘homework’.

I had to agree to keep secret which kind of positive self-help I tried.

I’m sure I’m not ruining things by saying that the exercise helped me wind my neck in and gain a sense of perspective about how I fit into my very happy life.

Aw, shucks.

There’s just time to add that therapy and ‘self-help’ are very individual experiences and what worked for me might not do the same for somebody else.

But now I’ve got to dash. I want to catch the BBC South West news because wotshername is reading it.

You know, the one they always point the camera straight at.

They daren’t show her in profile because I saw her in the supermarket once and she’s got an enormous nose.

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