body imageMILLIONS of women suffer from such a negative body image they refuse to leave the house or go to work, a study claimed.

They may feel too fat or too ugly and this lack of confidence about their looks and figures means a huge loss of self-esteem. As many as eight million British women have cancelled appointments because of their appearance. And employers lose an estimated £114.4million every year due to “negative body image” sick notes. The findings – from a study of more than 1,000 women – give a startling insight into behaviour caused by low self-esteem and negative body image. A third of women are so self-conscious about their figures they cannot bring themselves to buy clothes in the right size. Two-thirds say they are so embarrassed by their bodies that they deliberately avoid their own reflections. TV stylist Gok Wan, who presents Channel 4’s How To Look Good Naked, said: “I would love it if women everywhere felt good about themselves but sadly, as these figures clearly illustrate, most don’t. “It’s time for real women to fight back – beauty comes in every shape and size. Women need the tools to build confidence and change negative thinking once and for all.” The study, commissioned by Tesco, found that 36% of women have rejected intimate moments because they feel too body conscious and 23% avoid even being naked in front of their partners because they think they are overweight. Although regular exercise has been proven to boost self-esteem, 54% avoid exercising in public. And 44% believe women must be a size 14 or below to have the confidence to exercise in public, yet the average size in the UK is 16. Supermarket giant Tesco published the report to persuade more women to enter Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life – the largest women only fundraising event. Participants have already raised more than £200million and 3.4 million women have taken part. Tesco is also launching a service where female shoppers can consult an expert panel, who will help them to “hang up their body hang-ups”. Fronted by Gok Wan, the S-Team will advise women on how to look and feel good when exercising, and how to dress for their body shape. Ruth Girardet, Tesco corporate responsibility director, said: “We hope our S-Team will be able to help women to build their self-esteem, motivating them to take part in these inspiring events.” Last night Dr David Ashton, medical director of Healthier Weight Centres, said he was not surprised by the report. He explained: “Women are under pressure to conform to a norm in society. Even if they are a few pounds  overweight they perceive themselves to be massively overweight and they can’t face people. “That social isolation then leads to depression, which leads to low-esteem and the vicious cycle  continues.” Article by