A new study from the College of Wooster presented at the American Psychological Association’s recent convention finds that women are more satisfied with their bodies. It’s about time, right? Body positivity campaigns in recent years, a broader spectrum of women of all sizes depicted in the media, and the overall increase in size of Americans may play a part in this advancement.
The researchers evaluated 250 studies about body image that reviewed perspectives from 100,000 people between the 30-year span of 1981 and 2012. The study showed an overall decrease on body dissatisfaction among women by 3.3 points or half of one standard deviation point. While these results may be small for the timeframe, it’s wonderful to see that the needle is moving in the right direction.
It’s impossible to know exactly what changes a society’s mindset about weight and their bodies. First, the study notes that the average size of Americans – men and women – continues to increase. As more people defy the traditional idea of thin beauty, perhaps others release themselves from that unrealistic expectation.
The media most definitely plays a role as models, celebrities and advertisements constantly link the ideal of being thin to happiness. Body positivity campaigns work to create change and shift the focus to health rather than a certain look, a dress size or a number on a scale. Every body is different and therefore size and weight should not be one-size-fits-all system. Genetics, metabolic rates, muscularity, and the overall function of a person’s body, among other factors, all come into play when it comes to shape and size. That’s why most physicians rely on body mass index (BMI) rather than a weight to height ratio alone and there is always a range of normalcy. Plus, an emphasis on health is important, regardless of size.
Researchers also noticed another trend when reviewing the data. Men were more dissatisfied with their muscular state than women, however women were longing to be both thin and tone. Not enough studies have been done, but researchers took note of the potential for another unhealthy ideal when it comes to muscularity and body image.
We’re glad to see a positive change in body image among women. This is a step in the right direction for all of us!
Sources: The Huffington Post and New York Magazine
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