The research on body image and being body positive isn't great, but there is something you can do about.
But, first, the facts!
According to a new study from Yahoo Health, only one in seven Americans feels "body positive," meaning that they love the way their bodies look. The worst time for body image seems to be during women's younger years, with more body neutral feelings (being okay with the way their bodies look and have made peace with imperfections) happening later in life.
A few more facts from the online research:
- Americans become self-conscious about their bodies starting at 13 to 14 years old
- 36 percent of Americans report that classmates most contributed to their body shame and self-consciousness; followed by a tie between depictions of beauty on TV and in advertising (both 28 percent), and finally on social media (27 percent)
- Teen (94 percent) and Millennial (95 percent) females report feeling the most shame tied to body image
- The age at which females become self-conscious about their body is the youngest it's ever been — between 10 to 11 years old (vs. between 15 to 16 years old for female boomers)
But, there is some good news:
- The majority (60 percent) of teen females and 74 percent millennial females report that loving their body and gaining a body-positive mindset was their New Year's resolution, followed by losing weight (48 percent) and (67 percent) respectively
- For females, having a mom who was not self-critical of her own weight makes a huge difference. In fact, women who didn't have moms who were self-critical of their own weight are nearly 40 percent more likely to achieve body positivity or body neutrality.
- More than anything else, body positive/neutral people attribute their status to the fact that they eat right and work out (even the 40 percent of body positive people with an overweight or obese BMI).
And here's why being body positive or at least body neutral is SO important for men and women — and it's not just about physical health.
- The benefits of achieving body neutrality are higher levels of happiness, self-confidence (including sexual confidence), and self-esteem than body ambivalence or body negativity
- But, reaching body positivity generates a much stronger degree of happiness — it drives more than two times the levels of happiness, confidence and self esteem
Okay, so now that you know the good and the bad, what can you DO with this research? A lot!
7 Ways You Can Help Make the World a More Body-Positive Place
- Be the change you want to see. Whether you're a mother to a daughter (or son!) or not, others — nieces, co-workers, neighbors — are watching you. So if you want the younger generation to be more body positive, you need to be more body positive. Take steps today to improve your body image and stop the fat talk.
- Spread body-positive quotes. Seeing that women are so targeted on social media to be a certain size, why not buck that trend by sharing body positiveand inspirational quotes like these?
- Work out and eat right out of a love for yourself. We've said it before and we'll say it again: you can't hate yourself healthy. Do it for the reasons that really matter. And for the love of all things fit bottomed, don't diet!
- Start being on Team All Women Rock. Here are three things women tend to do that are really, really holding us all back from being our best: the comparison trap, the perfectionist obsession, and gossip.
- Ditch your idea of what "fit" and "attractive" looks like. Here's what being healthy really looks like. Spoiler: it looks different on everyone and that's what makes it awesome!
- Limit your media. Take note of what shows, articles, ads, and programs lift you up. Those that don't? Drop 'em like they're hot.
- Boost your inner confidence. Outer confidence and inner confidence are interrelated. So rock the positive self-talk, take time for you to reflect and recharge, know that you're awesome and don't be afraid to strike a power pose a few times a day.
How body positive are you? And — better yet — what will you do TODAY to make the world a more body postive place? — Jenn