chapter  1
20 Pages

What is Self-Harm and Who Does It? What is Self-Harm? Who Self-Harms? Trauma in the Lives of Those who

What is Self-Harm?

Feeling dissatisfied with yourself, how you look, the person you are, or how you feel is an almost universal female experience within our culture. Even when we outwardly reject the cultural mores, many of us are still left with internalised feelings of inadequacy, of not quite ‘measuring up’. Women, in particular, are encouraged to focus on their appearance and body shape-hence the success of special diets, low-fat foods, slimming aids and cosmetic surgery. With such negative messages surrounding us, it is not surprising that many women damage or try to alter their bodies in a number of ways. These can include socially acceptable, and even encouraged, practices such as hairplucking, cosmetic surgery, body-piercing, and skinbronzing; socially tolerated behaviour such as smoking, regular over-consumption of alcohol, and dangerous sports; and self-destructive behaviour such as eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual risk-taking, and elective surgery.1