Good work, everyone. Turns out, we’re all being much kinder to ourselves, as a new study reports that women don’t hate their bodies as much as they used to. The piece of research, which was presented at the American Psychological Association’s 124th annual convention, revealed that in spite of growing rates of obesity and our selfie-obsessed culture, women are becoming more accepting of their bodies.
Bryan Karazsia, PhD, of The College of Wooster, who presented the research said, “While women consistently report being more dissatisfied with their bodies than men as far as thinness is concerned, that dissatisfaction has decreased over the 31-year period we studied.” Keep scrolling to find out more about the study and what surprising conclusions the research team found.
For the study, Karazsia and his team conducted an analysis of over 250 studies from 1981 to 2012, which amounted to over 100,228 participants. Looking at these studies, they analysed trends in how people felt about their bodies, specifically in regard to weight.
What they found was that women, unsurprisingly, were consistently more dissatisfied with their bodies than men, however their dissatisfaction gradually declined over time, while men’s dissatisfaction remained relatively constant throughout.
The conclusion for these findings was that men’s body image issues aren’t necessarily about being thin, or aspiring to being thin. So as part of the same research, the team also analysed studies about muscle size and found that of the 81 studies they looked at, representing more than 23,000 participants over a 14-year period, men regularly reported more body dissatisfaction than women when it came to muscularity.
However, perhaps the most surprising aspect of this revelation is that even though women are reportedly happier with the way they look, the overall population is bigger than ever before.
Karazsia explains: “When we consider that humans in the United States, where most studies in our review were conducted, are physically larger than they have ever been, with more than two thirds of U.S. adults being overweight or obese, one might expect that body dissatisfaction should be increasing. But we found the opposite.”
However, before we go getting all excited about how societal pressures on women's bodies are changing, we shouldn’t be so hasty. Karazsia is “cautiously optimistic” that these findings should demonstrate that women are no longer feeling susceptible to those kinds of body pressures.
That said, he does acknowledge that the last two decades have “witnessed increasing attention and awareness on a body acceptance movement aimed primarily at girls and women”. Which is definitely something we should all be happy about.
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