Why I Wrote This: 'I Suffer From Appearance Anxiety'

11 March 2014 by

Anna Hart admits she suffers from appearance anxiety  

New research last week revealed women worry more about their appearance than any other aspect of their lives - including finances, health, family or professional success. This comes after Olympian Rebecca Adlington was rumoured to have undergone a nose job after years of insecurity. So why DO successful women suffer from appearance anxiety? In this week's issue of Grazia, writer Anna Hart talks about her daily battle with the mirror...

Last week we learned that women worry more about their appearance than other aspect of their lives; our looks cause us more anxiety than our finances, health, family or professional success.

As a feminist with a fairly fearless approach to life, it maddens me that something as seemingly superficial as our looks is holding women back from experiencing the happiness we’ve worked so hard for.

But this new Today/ AOL study flooded me with relief that I’m not the only one. Because I’m smart, sane, successful and ridiculously fortunate, and completely ashamed of the fact that an unflattering glimpse in the mirror still has the power to ruin my day.

I might have aced an interview in the morning, but this won’t stop me from crying in the Topshop changing rooms one hour later because I don’t fit into my usual size of jeans. I can be on amazing holiday, and a glimpse of my sweaty, round face on Instagram will suck all the joy out of it. A romantic date with my husband? Nothing kills romance quicker than seeing yourself in the restaurant bathroom mirror and thinking, “Oh NO - is that what I look like?” And as hard as I try to kick this nasty habit, to shut up the critical voice in my head, I just can't escape it.

So I was stunned to learn just how prevalent crippling appearance anxiety can be - but yet none of us talk about it. We’ve learned not to. We’re worried about sounding shallow, vain, vacuous, superficial and self-obsessed - criticisms that have been used to disempower women for centuries. But we can’t tackle the issue of appearance anxiety if we pretend it doesn’t exist, that we’re beyond it, that anyone who has a ‘fat day’ is being a rubbish feminist. I’m not sure how we change things, how we shunt ‘appearances’ down the list of things a woman is judged on, and consequentially make it matter less to us. But I think the first step is to talk about it.

What do you think? Do you agree with Anna? Tweet us @grazia_live or tell us your thoughts below.

This week's issue of Grazia is on sale now.

 

Photo: Thomas Skovsende


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