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Why women continue to use body enhancers despite their harmful effects

 Do women really need fixing? (Photo: iStock)

'Pretty hurts', Beyonce sang, so much for the woman living in this modern world. As the song goes, the perceived physical flaws could be fixed by pills, tablets or a balm but the pain would continue to linger if one does not fix the 'soul'.

The fact is, you can't fix what is neither broken nor enhance what is perfect. So who convinced these women that they were broken and needed fixing? That they were not beautiful enough? That they were flawed and imperfect and needed repair? The better question would be, who set up a standard of beauty that any woman not falling close to is considered ugly?

The truth of the matter is, issues with body image start early, all other factors only add salt to the injury. Research shows that children as young as three could be experiencing issues with body image and self-esteem, at such a young age to start feeling trapped in a wrong body.

Body image refers to how one views themselves, it is all about perception. It is subjective, purely based on thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings and behaviours. We view ourselves through a lens, but how clean is that lens?

Parents have played a critical role in body image, for example, if a woman was raised by a mother who was obsessed with her flaws, chances are the daughter could follow suit. There is no evidence, however, that the disorder is genetically inherited but the mother could have projected her flaws onto the daughter. Constantly criticizing how they look, making snide remarks about their weight, figure, hair, or anything. And even worse, comparing her to other girls she deems prettier. Self-esteem is at the core of body image.

Also, the environment-peers, relatives and contemporaries who attack verbally- years of being ignored, body shamed- fat shamed, leg shamed, belly shamed, boob shamed, nose shamed, forehead shamed, foot shamed, hair shamed, even worse- vulva and vagina shamed by men have had their upshot.

Most people would admit to hating or rather, being uncomfortable with how a part of their body looks. Could be the nose, teeth, legs or even weight, and maybe a thought of changing it at some point has crossed their minds. And that is perfectly normal.

The problem comes in when one becomes obsessed, the thoughts become intrusive, and one becomes fully preoccupied with the perceived flaw and goes an extra mile to fix it, surgery or a body enhancer. In such a case, the person could be ailing from a mental health condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, BDD.

Have you ever seen a woman who used body enhancers and everything went south, the skin reacted, the hair fell off, the hips became unproportional or even developed a terminal illness as a result of the same? And still, she went back for more, only making the matters worse and even risking her life, the chances that she had BDD are positive.

Women are not the only victims, men too, those who use steroids, take themselves through murderous workouts ad insane dietary routines. However, research shows that women are two times more likely to suffer from negative body image than men.

If you are struggling with BDD or have body image issues, try mirror therapy. This could include striping and standing naked in front of a mirror and affirming yourself. Keep in mind that there will always be another person out there who is more attractive than you. Your value is not based on your appearance, but on who you are as a person, your values and by sheer fact. Focus on who you are on the inside, dress well and groom, that is all you need.

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