Women’s Body Confidence Declining

women's body confidence

New study reveals women’s body confidence is on the decline despite a surge in campaigns focused on raising self-esteem.

It seems as if the idea of loving the skin that you’re in is at an all-time high. High profile celebrities and artists like Lady Gaga and Adele have been vocal about body images and their struggle to finally be happy with themselves. Beyonce and Kim Kardashian may not have started the curvy movement, but they have been a catalyst for the popularity of a more curvaceous body. No longer are we pressured by society to be a size two; Or are we?

The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, which interviewed 10,500 females across 13 countries, found that women’s confidence in their bodies is on a steady decline, with low body esteem becoming a unifying challenge shared by women and girls around the world – regardless of age or geography.

The report, the most comprehensive study Dove has undertaken on the topic, reveals the impact low body esteem has on a woman’s ability to realize her potential. An astonishing 85% of women and 79% of girls choose to forgo certain activities such as trying out for a team or club or spend quality time with family and loved ones because they don’t feel confident enough about their looks or physical appearance. Nine out of 10 women also said that they skip meals or put their health at risk in other ways when they don’t like what they see in the mirror.

“This latest research shows that low body confidence is a global issue,” says Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Assistant Clinical Professor Harvard Medical School, Director of Program in Aesthetics and Wellbeing, MGH Department of Psychiatry. “Though troubling, these results are also unsurprising, given the increasing pressures women and girls face today. We need to help empower women and girls in many ways, including increasing body-confidence education, driving meaningful conversations around the pressures women and girls face, and advocating for change in how females and their appearance are talked about and portrayed in the media.”

Images portrayed in the media still affects how low women’s body confidence is. The study also found that 69% of women and 65% of girls point the finger at advertising and media as the reason why increasing pressure to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty as a key force in low self-esteem. Furthermore, 56% of all women feel the need to be ‘always on’ when it comes to social media.

While the report shows the need for more positive body images in the media, there has been an increase in campaigns and initiatives that focus on raising self-esteem. Social organizations online have become very popular in the last few years and women use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to talk about body image and reject society’s habit of body shaming. More and more celebrities are using their star power to encourage their fans to rewrite beauty standards. We still have a long way to go with raising women’s body confidence across the globe, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

Iva Anthony

Senior Writer

Iva Anthony has worked as a freelance journalist and blogger for seven years. Before working in the blogosphere, Ms. Anthony was on the opposite side of the spectrum working at one of the top independent public relations agencies in the country. In addition to being an assistant editor at 4UMF.com, she is also the co-owner of her own urban clothing brand Peter & Lois.