Professor Nichola Rumsey
Professor Nichola Rumsey
Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England - Bristol, UK
Seminar Title: “I Don’t Like the Way I Look”: The Psychological and Physical Health Impacts of Dissatisfaction with Appearance
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Societal interest in “looks” has a long history. Until recently, this interest has been considered largely benign, however, norms of appearance have become progressively more extreme and are now unattainable for the vast majority of people. The internet and social media have contributed to a reduction in the variability in appearance ideals between cultures. High levels of dissatisfaction with appearance are now normative in Australia, the US, UK and many other developed countries. The consequences are causing significant concern amongst researchers, educationalists and politicians. Research evidence relating to the causes and impacts of this ‘normative discontent’ on the psychological wellbeing and physical health of those affected and the consequences for children, young people and adults in key areas of living including social, educational & vocational functioning will be reviewed. Interventions designed to prevent or ameliorate appearance dissatisfaction will be outlined.
Nichola is Professor of Appearance Psychology and Co-Director of the Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. Following the completion of her PhD “Psychological Problems Associated with Facial Disfigurement” in 1983, Nichola has built an international reputation for her research in this field and has attracted over £7m funding to support research on appearance and has published widely in the field. Her current projects include establishing the psychosocial needs of people who are distressed by their appearance and developing interventions to meet these needs; identifying the psychological factors contributing to resilience and distress in people affected by cleft; interventions to promote positive societal attitudes towards diversity in appearance; screening and follow-up of patients seeking cosmetic surgery. Nichola has been Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology and the BPS Consultant to the UK Government’s Department of Health 2004-2010. She leads the EU funded COST Action IS1210 “Appearance Matters”, a network of researchers and practitioners from 34 European countries. She was appointed OBE in 2016 in recognition of her services to people with altered appearance.