KELLY Brook is having great sex. What, pray tell, is the mystery aphrodisiac? Ah yes! A panic diet. After her partner (model and arsehole) Jeremy Parisi called her a balloon.

It seems that if you are in need of a little horizontal refreshment, you should try dropping from a dress size 16 to a 12. All you need is diet shakes, cruelty and a boyfriend with all the charm of a seeping bin bag.

Kelly, shhh, listen! What’s that sound? Why, it’s one million women in perfect chorus: DUMP HIM. Might we collectively recommend ordering pizza, opening a bottle of something and mailing him directly to @ByeFelipe?

This isn’t a column about celebrity relationships. But it is one that looks at the experiences of being a woman. This sort of comment is something many would accept as normal, even par for the course in an intimate relationship. I’m sure there’s someone out there reading this story experiencing the unpleasant tingle of jamais vu, as the tone of their partner’s remarks pierces the static.

Most women who date men will have had their own Jeremy at some point in their life. The boyfriend who didn’t like your hair like that, or the date who thought you wore too much make-up.

Maybe it was the partner who wanted you to weigh yourself each morning or who policed your food choices. Maybe it was the one who spoke to his mates at dinner about the “state” of your postpartum boobs. You may have had a husband who bought you ankle weights as a “gift”.

All of these are examples experienced by women I know – or by me. There are infinite variations on the same tired theme: “A woman needs to look a certain way to be acceptable to me.”

These remarks are far from harmless. They are the hallmarks of a controlling relationship. To you this may seem minor, you may even believe you are lucky to have someone who “puts up with you”. To you, there’s nothing wrong with this picture, no red flags. This behaviour from partners is so common we’ve stopped seeing it as the manipulative action it is.

Whoever he is, however wonderful/accomplished/handsome, if his focus is on how you look, the best place for him is in the past. If he’s not there yet, you need to understand that this behaviour isn’t just upsetting, it’s unhealthy. As women, our lives are saturated with messages about our bodies and what we need to do to make them worthy of love and respect. These create deep-rooted anxieties that are used by practised manipulators to keep us in line – comments like this chip at a woman’s self-esteem, making it harder for her to leave.

Some scientists call this “mate retention behaviour”. Women’s organisations who pick up the pieces call it for what it is: emotional abuse. You might have convinced yourself that the comments come from a place of care and concern, or that you need someone else’s checks and balances to motivate you into being something other than what you are right now. If your partner’s attraction to you is conditional, then they are using your attention and your shame as a means of coercion.

Maybe you can’t leave. Perhaps that’s a step too far right now, but in the spirit of new beginnings, I’d encourage you to set a boundary as a start.

Not to erect a fence against ever being upset, but out of respect for yourself. Setting boundaries is an investment in your mental and emotional health and acts as an acid test for the state of your relationship.

First, know your limit. That could be any time your partner makes a pop at your appearance, for example. Then, commit to what you’ll do when the line is crossed. Each time, you could say: “How I look is not up for discussion.” If they continue, leave the room. It might seem small, but it’s a way to send a message and to reclaim what you’ve lost to the other person.

Author Sonya Renee Taylor talks about how excuses for the way we look are already on our tongues. We’re “too much” for some people, “not enough” for others.

However you look, however you feel in your body, you owe no-one an explanation and your fears about your appearance should never be used against you by the person you love. As Taylor says in her brilliant book: “The body is not an apology.”

You are already enough as you are. Tell yourself that, and then dump him.