Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Shobna Gulati and the Battle Against Negative Body Image

During the course of my research, I have unearthed a wealth of newspaper, magazine and online articles concerning negative body image. They report on how it’s robbing our children of the liberal abandonment and unadulterated joy that should comprise their infanthoods, how it’s dominating the waking thoughts of every UK woman between the ages of 10 and 60 and how our obsession with aesthetics is causing significant psychological damage and destructive behaviour in an alarmingly large percentage of us.

Body obsession has reached fever pitch, what with plastic surgery promising to transform our lives and celebrities sharing their diet and exercise “secrets”, we have been fooled into believing that Hollywood style beauty has never been so accessible and that we should berate ourselves if we fall short of this standard. The repercussions have been silently festering under our noses for so many years that now the stench has become unbearable and we have all had to sit up and pay attention.

Even despite this, I know how difficult it is to make the decision to go public with your own, private body battle. I did a lot of soul searching before sharing my story in the press and on radio – I couldn’t anticipate the reaction I would receive. The experiences I had during my time in the music industry taught me that the public can be judgmental, body fascist and cruel. Ultimately though, I decided that if I didn’t speak up, not only was I participating actively in a conspiracy of silence but I was doing Mark Newey, who cured me, a huge disservice. I am delighted to say the responses so far have been positive and have encouraged others whose lives were being crippled by bulimia to seek help from Winning Minds.

I resolved to be as candid as I could about bulimia nervosa and it’s physical and psychological effects and in doing so my pride took, not so much a knock but a full on whack, right on the schnozz. That’s why I’ve got so much respect for Shobna Gulati. In a recent article in the Daily Mirror, she describes her body insecurities and the unhealthy relationship she shares with food.

Shobna's "Right On Sister Moment" Award goes to this statement:

"I'm not sure eating disorders are to do with wanting to be lighter. I think in my case it is to do with not wanting to be who I am".

Eating disorder awareness and treatment in many ways hinges on this crucial distinction.

Having met Shobna at Body Gossip, I was left with the impression that she was beautiful, friendly and self assured. I wouldn’t have guessed that underneath this exterior she was battling such powerful demons. I assumed she became involved with the Body Gossip campaign simply because she was a nice lady who wanted to help. She could have let the World believe that too, but she didn’t and she should be applauded for making such a courageous choice.

The overwhelming response to the Body Gossip writing competition and Shobna’s brave admission are testament to the massive extent to which negative body image is a social epidemic, affecting people from all walks of life. Finally, we have recognized it’s destructive effect and now it is our responsibility to counteract it.

Winning Minds are developing a series of pioneering workshops which can permanently transform the mindset and allow you to vanquish body image issues. Negative body image is a kind of slavery and it’s so prevalent that many of us have reconciled ourselves to the idea that it will hold us captive forever. Winning Minds gives you the opportunity to liberate yourself. Go to www.winningminds.co.uk/personal-workshops/ to find out more.


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