Two in Three Teenage Girls Unhappy with Their Bodies
Jim LiebeltJim Liebelt's Blog
- 2016 Jan 07
*The following is excerpted from an online article from Express.
A new study found men do not struggle with body image issues as women do, with 70 percent of men loving the way their bodies look and accepting their imperfections.
The study also found that the vast majority of teenage girls have been shamed about their bodies with more than half unhappy with their physique.
The study was conducted by Yahoo Health, who surveyed 2,000 people aged 13 to 64 on how they felt about their bodies.
The results of the survey found that it takes women half their lives to achieve half the level of body self-esteem as the average teenage male and that teenage boys are three and a half times more body confident than their female counterparts.
With 66 percent of teenage girls unhappy with their bodies and having a love/hate relationship with them, the survey discovered this negativity stays with many women as they age.
But women who suffered a love/hate relationship with their body in their youth are more likely to accept their imperfections as they age.
Speaking to Yahoo Health, psychologist and body image expert Sari Shepphird, who regularly works with patients on improving body positivity, is not shocked by the survey's results.
She said: “Within our culture, it’s fair game now to comment on a woman’s weight, regardless of her age.
Social media commentary — either directed at a woman or at her peers — also has a way of influencing a female’s body image. As a result, she says, the risk that a woman will suffer from body negativity continues throughout her lifespan and remains a constant risk.
One in seven people surveyed consider themselves body positive, but males are much more likely to be body positive than females.
It is believed women hit "peak body positivity" between the ages of 35 and 54, but this only happens to 13 percent of women.
With 94 percent of teenage girls experiencing body shame, just 64 percent of teenage boys have felt the same.
Mrs Shepphird said: “It’s still more acceptable to comment on a woman’s body.
When men are forming their identities, they may not feel like they have to take their body image and shape into account to the same degree that women do and that can set the stage for a person’s body image for the rest of their life."
A woman's mother is also an important factor, with females who have a mother who is not self-critical of her own weight, making them nearly 40 percent more likely to be happy with their body.
Mrs Shepphird said: “Watch the comments that you make, if you talk about your body in a more neutral and positive way, your kids and the ones that you influence will be shaped by that."
The survey found that men become more critical of their physique as they age.
Mrs Shepphird said: “The majority aren’t confronted with that aspect of their bodies when they’re younger. “Middle age is often the first time they become aware of how their bodies don’t measure up.”
Conversely, women become more accepting as they age. "As they age, women take on a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment in other areas of their life, like serious relationships, children, and career achievements," explains Mrs Shepphird. "Younger women who are just shaping their identity, on the other hand, may put more emphasis on their body and shape because they don’t yet have those other elements in their lives."