It used to be the case that satisfaction with our bodies increased as we got older. But new research finds that 65% of mid-life women experience significant body distress and weight preoccupation, factors linked to eating disorders.
Currently 13% of adult women suffer with eating disorder symptoms, despite the widespread perception that eating disorders and body image issues only affect adolescents.
There are greater barriers accessing treatment for women in mid-life, who often feel ashamed and reticent about seeking help and hide their disorder well. Those who manage to control the symptoms can relapse due to mid-life problems.
A new report: Eating Disorders in Adult Women: Bio-Psychosocial, Developmental and Clinical Considerations, will be presented at a symposium in Florida in February 2016. For full details visit the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation website.
Body dissatisfaction and weight preoccupation in mid-life women also appears to be fuelling an increase in cosmetic surgery in African American women, as seen on the reality TV series, Atlanta Plastic, which follows the working lives of three prominent Black cosmetic surgeons and their prospective clients.
“There has been an explosion of plastic surgery in Atlanta, Georgia”, says surgeon, Dr Crawford, in the first episode. The reason, according to one his clients, is that “Atlanta is the Hollywood of the South and everyone has beach bodies”.
The pressure to conform to beauty standards set by celebrities and validated in the mainstream press, is extremely powerful and causes women to seek to emulate unrealistic goals to achieve an idealised ‘perfect’ body.
One client says she wants “a flat, washboard stomach…I want to look like a Black Barbie”. But according to cosmetic surgeon Dr Crawford, surgery makes people feel better about themselves and gives them a new lease of life, so is a good thing.
I’m not so sure. Most of the women who have appeared on the programme would probably not require surgery if they lost some weight and took exercise. But cosmetic surgery, which is no longer the preserve of the rich and famous is widely available and fulfils a disturbing need in contemporary society for instant gratification.
What’s your view?
Are you 40+ and happy with your body?
Would you ever consider having cosmetic surgery?
I’d love to hear from you!