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Body Perception: Post-London 2012

Jessica Ennis

Jessica Ennis

Body perception refers to that which we all feel about our own body and how we think others perceive it. It relies mainly on our personality, personal experiences and various social and cultural factors.

It is common that some people will have an obscure body image of themselves, which can lead to psychological issues, such as depression and eating disorders.

The London 2012 Games was a great event for thousands of athletes and spectators, and has in fact resulted in role models who are a great inspiration to everyone, but specifically the younger generation of today.

We are all different shapes and sizes and there is not, in my opinion such thing as ‘perfect.’ Particularly in sport you find people who work with what they have got physically and achieve great accomplishments. The three different body types are:


An ectomorph or ecto is someone of a small build with slight muscle and long limbs. They tend to have smaller joints and muscles and generally struggle to gain weight or muscle mass.

For an athlete, this can be difficult due to the physical demands exercise places on the body. Their diet is extremely important to consider and supplements, such as mass gainers would be highly recommended as they are a very convenient way to achieve their daily calorie intake.


A mesomorph has a hard, athletic build and in contrast to the ectomorph, will be able to gain weight and muscle mass easily.

On the downside, mesomorphs do tend to gain weight easier. This body type is fairly easy to maintain if a correct diet is followed along with cardio and strength exercises.


The Endomorph has the more rounded build which is more soft and undefined.

This type of build tends to struggle with their weight as they gain fat very easy. Although they do gain muscle quickly, they need to keep their cardio exercise at maximum effort to keep the excess weight off.

Body Types

All of the above body types will be suited to different sports and exercises. Although there is the odd anomaly, we would see ectomorphs in sports such as long distance running, cycling whilst mesomorphs would be best suited to swimming or rowing. Endomorphs, although generally more overweight can still be well suited to sports such as wrestling or power lifting, where strength is important.

Unfortunately not everyone is happy with their body type and resort to diet and exercise to help achieve a different body type which they wish for.


Thinspiration-by-PrettyThinThinspiration (thinspo) is a fairly modern term for photos used on pro-anorexic websites, blogs, etc.

These images range from; say a celeb supermodel that is naturally slim, to quite disturbing images of people who are extremely underweight and in no way healthy.

They are used for ‘inspiration’ to become thin by not eating or exercising excessively. This is obviously a shocking subject and extremely worrying as research suggests Anorexia Nervosa has the highest rate of mortality of any psychological disorder.


strongFitspiration on the other hand is deemed as the ‘healthier’ alternative to thinspiration. For example, photos or videos of people who are fit and healthy and usually participating in some sort of exercise are used to inspire people to aim to look like that.

Although personally I do think some these photos are indeed inspirational, they can sometimes still look like a thinspirtaion photo in disguise. Very slim, women usually, are shown and although they look slightly underweight with a pair of trainers on running on a treadmill, the perception can seem like they are in fact a fitspiration.

2012 Olympic Games Legacy

The London 2012 Olympic Games was a very memorable time for over 10,000 athletes but also for London, which has not hosted the games for 64 years. I was personally glued to the TV, watching every event possible and I was lucky enough to get tickets to go and see the quarter-finals of the men’s football, Brazil vs. Honduras.

During these remarkable 16 days, we saw the likes of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Sir Chris Hoy to name a few, all doing Great Britain proud and winning gold medals. We also saw all three body types performing competitively in their desired sporting event, which I felt was a great inspiration for all.

So now over a year has passed since this epic event in history and we have seen these athletes appear in all sorts of different medias, for example, talk shows, magazines, TV adverts etc.

I think it has given us an insight to a different side to our athletes and how, like us, they are just normal people. Jessica Ennis is one in particular athlete who has had a lot of media attention and has been referred to as ‘the perfect role model.’

She has made the female athlete perception look a lot more glamorous and appealing to young girls. This is the sort of inspiration the younger generation of today need, even if they do not necessarily participate in competitive sports; it gives them the idea that it is achievable and also very desirable.

We are all different shapes and sizes, we are all good at different things, but everybody can achieve what they want with hard work and effort and a positive attitude to body perception.

About Alison

Alison Hedley is one of our nutrition bloggers also working as a Senior Development Technologist for the sports nutrition company Whilst completing her MSc in Sport & Exercise Nutrition she also worked at the Carnegie Centre for Sports Performance, advising athletes and sports teams on their diets. Alison is a very keen runner and enjoys reading and writing anything to do with sports nutrition. Please feel free to ask any questions or suggest future blog topics. View all posts by Alison

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