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Feeling Good in your Own Skin

Social media is full of fitness models and we are obsessed with kale and high-intensity workouts, yet there are now more overweight than underweight people in the world. There seems to be a disconnect between what it means to have – and the best way to get – a ‘happy, healthy’ body. Anita Chaudhuri investigates

Recently, I spent a week in Paris, and while I was munching a tarte aux framboises at a pavement café, I overheard a woman using the French phrase, ‘Se sentir bien dans sa peau.’ The idiom made me smile, reminding me of the French teacher who first tried to explain its meaning to me.

‘It means to feel good in your own skin, to feel beautiful, to enjoy being yourself,’ she said.

At the time, the definition puzzled me. ‘But why on earth would you need a phrase for that?’ I pondered. I was 11 years old.

Why indeed? A quick flick through any fashion magazine, Instagram feed or wellness blog is enough to provide a dozen answers. Popular culture bombards us with images of celebrities with pert bodies, unlined faces and improbably sleek ‘post-baby’ physiques. Looking this good is easy if you only eat kale, drink green sludge and get your own personal yoga ‘bitch’. ‘If you do X then you will look like Y’ goes the message. Only most of us don’t. The average woman in Britain is five foot three, weighs 11 stone and is a size 16.

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Psychologies July 2016- Healthy Happy Body