Letting go of shame and impossible ideals

Long before Photoshop made unreal ideas of beauty commonplace, the mass media and pornography industries popularised stereotypes of physical perfection that taught many of us to distort the way we see ourselves. Today, bombarded as we are with images of unattainable attractiveness and dating apps that present individuals purely as physical objects, appearance has never seemed so important, or so synonymous with success in every sphere of life.

According to the US’ National Eating Disorders Association, marginalised groups including LGBT+ people are disproportionately affected by body image issues, and the lives of many are compromised by intense feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Among transgender people, these struggles often lead to trans men using steroids and trans women injecting silicone as they seek to conform to traditional binary gender identities.

Integrated with our broader therapy offer, we run a dedicated body image breakout group, where therapists and clients explore the challenges faced by LGBT+ people. These may include feeling unaccepted by society for failing to conform to unrealistic ideals, struggling to accept their own physical self-expression in a LGBT+-unfriendly environment, or striving to own their true gender. In many cases, these experiences will feed into addiction. Drawing on art therapy, holistic healing techniques and nutrition, our body image treatment powerfully releases shame and distress, supporting clients to accept, connect and enjoy their bodies.