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We are all more obsessed with our appearance than we like to admit. Vanity means conceit, excessive pride in one's appearance.Concern about appearance is quite normal and understandable.

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In the 19th Century being beautiful meant wearing a corset – causing breathing and digestive problems.

Now we try to diet and exercise ourselves into the fashionable shape – often with even more serious consequences.

Women are continually bombarded with images of the 'ideal' face and figure – what Naomi Woolf calls ' The Official Body'.

Constant exposure to idealised images of female beauty on TV, magazines and billboards makes exceptional good looks seem normal and anything short of perfection seem abnormal and ugly.

Attractive people have distinct advantages in our society.

Studies show: It is not surprising that physical attractiveness is of overwhelming importance to us.

They often don't trust praise of their work or talents, believing positive evaluations to be influenced by their appearance.

What people see and how they react to their reflection in a mirror will vary according to: species, sex, age, ethnic group, sexual orientation, mood, eating disorders, what they've been watching on TV, what magazines they read, whether they're married or single, what kind of childhood they had, whether they take part in sports, what phase of the menstrual cycle they're in, whether they are pregnant, where they've been shopping – and even what they had for lunch.

Similar studies in Japan have found that 41% of elementary school girls (some as young as 6) thought they were too fat.

Even normal-weight and underweight girls want to lose weight.

Concern with appearance is not just an aberration of Modern Western culture.

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