Body Image Counseling Bangor ME
Sharing Life, Shedding Pounds
Her thighs are getting a little too lumpy, his middle is becoming a little too thick.
By Lisa James
If there’s a woman in America who hasn’t stared at the mirror at least once in her life and thought, “I hate my body,” we’d love to shake her hand. According to one national health survey, 48% of all women have tried to lose weight in the past year, many believing that if they could only get rid of those stubborn [insert amount here] pounds, they could face the bathroom mirror (and scale) with confidence.
Men are not subject to quite the same scrutiny when it comes to their weight. But the relentless media stream of idealized male images—chiseled features, square jaws, muscular upper bodies tapering to six-pack abs—has affected them, too. “The fastest-growing population for plastic surgery is men,” says psychotherapist Lydia Hanich, MA, LMFT, author of Honey, Does This Make My Butt Look Big? (Gürze Books). “Twenty years ago it was unheard of.”
This simmering stew of gender and body image, spiced by the health dangers that can accompany obesity, may boil over when both partners in a relationship decide to tackle weight loss together. The reason lies in subconscious, crossed wires of communication between the sexes. “It’s often an unspoken, beneath-the-surface tension because it’s such a sensitive subject,” says Hanich.
Keeping Up Appearances
Part of this plays out as emotional eating: To soothe “unfeminine” emotions such as anger, women will gravitate towards sugar, fat and carbohydrates. “Then they spend the next few hours feeling guilty for or ashamed of what they’ve just done to themselves,” Seppinni says. (“I can’t believe I just inhaled the Häagen-Dazs.”) On the other hand, “men eat more when they’re happy, or simply because what they’re eating tastes so good.” And both sexes may overeat if family and friends encourage them to do so (New England Journal of Medicine 7/26/07).
As a result, “women see themselves as overweight much quicker than men,” notes Seppinni. “This is in part because women wear more fitted clothes, and their weight gain is more n...