- Women’s satisfaction with their bodies has increased since the 1980s
- Experts: This might be because there are curvier role models in the media
- Men’s happiness improved too with greatest anxieties over their muscles
- Researchers said results were surprising given rising obesity levels
Women are much happier with their bodies than they were 30 years ago, a study has found.
Despite growing obesity rates and a culture obsessed with selfies, dissatisfaction with a well-rounded figure is on the decline, scientists claim.
While they are less happy with how they look than men, their satisfaction rates are improving, researchers said.
This might be because there are now curvier women in the media acting as role models, they added.
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Women are now happier with their bodies than they were in the past, a study has found. Researchers said curvier role models in the media might explain the trend. Pictured is plus size model and body image campaigner Ashley Graham
The findings represent a positive change in the social pressures women face over body image, researchers said. Pictured are plus size models Whitney Thomson and Candice Huffin
The findings represent a positive change in the social pressures women face over body image and diversity, said psychologist Dr Bryan Karazsia, of The College of Wooster, Ohio.
He 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.
‘The last two decades have witnessed increasing attention and awareness on a body acceptance movement aimed primarily at girls and women.’
There are now role models countering the trend of thinness in the media, and this might help in part explain the findings, he added.
The last few years have seen the rise of a new breed of plus size supermodel, including outspoken body image campaigner Ashley Graham and UK size 22 star Tess Holliday.
TINDER MEN ARE NOT ALL THEY SEEM: MALE USERS OF THE APP HAVE LOW SELF-ESTEEM
They might be tall, dark and handsome but men on the dating app Tinder suffer from low self-esteem, a study found.
A survey of more than 1,300 men and women revealed that those who use the highly popular smartphone app tend to be less happy with their looks.
Psychologists warn the app could be bad for your health, with users drawn into a downward spiral of physical comparisons.
Professor Jessica Strübel of the University of North Texas said: ‘Tinder users reported having lower levels of satisfaction with their faces and bodies and having lower levels of self-worth than the men and women who did not use Tinder.’
Simultaneously thousands of people used the hasthtag ‘strong not skinny’ on social media to promote images of muscular, rather than emaciated bodies.
Body dissatisfaction is not only a common predictor of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and binge eating, but also can play a role in the development of depression, Dr Karazsia said.
Research conducted in the 1990s suggested the percentage of women who were unhappy with their weight was on the rise.
So his team pooled data from more than 250 studies representing 100,228 participants from 1981 to 2012, to analyse trends in how people felt about their bodies, specifically in regard to weight.
They found while women consistently were more dissatisfied than men, this gradually declined over time while men’s remained relatively constant.
But men’s body image issues are not always about thinness and can often be related to their strength and power.
So the researchers also conducted a similar ‘meta analysis’ of 81 studies representing more than 23,000 participants over a 14 year period, this time focusing on muscle size.
The lead researcher said the results are ‘surprising’ as given that more than two thirds of adults are now overweight people might expect body satisfaction to decline (file photo)
They found men regularly reported more body dissatisfaction than women when it came to how muscular they are but, over time, levels remained relatively consistent for both genders.
While the results were not entirely unexpected, Dr Karazsia said he was surprised by the findings.
He said: ‘When we consider 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 adults being overweight or obese, one might expect body dissatisfaction should be increasing.
‘But we found the opposite.’
Dr Karazsia presented the research at the American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention.