You won’t wear certain clothes. Half of you won’t go to the beach. Or wear shorts. And a staggering 82 per cent of you want magazines to be forced to label images which have been digitally enhanced or altered.
These are just some of the truths that were revealed when we conducted our first ever Mamamia Body Image Survey last month. A survey which a whopping 2,300 of you completed.
The most concerning result however was this one: negative body image changes the way 88 per cent of you (Australian women, that is) behave in your day to day lives.
It seems like we’ve got a long way to go to feeling comfortable in our own skin.
So what else did the survey tell us? A whooooole lot of stuff. Pull up a seat and get comfy.
Our body image
Here’s some of what we discovered when we asked you about the impact (if any) your body image has on your day-to-day life …
- 75 per cent of women have not worn certain clothes due to poor body image, while half of respondents have avoided going to the beach or wearing swimmers.
- 50 per cent have refrained from wearing shorts
- 40 percent of women have avoided having their photo taken.
- 25 percent of women ‘couldn’t stand the sight’ of their own naked bodies.
- 23 percent of women had not initiated sex because of the way they felt about their body, with 16 per cent refusing sex for the same reason
Only one in five respondents are happy with the way they currently look and nearly a quarter of respondents told us that they couldn’t stand the way they look naked. Not good.
One quarter of you don’t believe you’re beautiful but were able to see beauty in others. Nearly nine in ten (88 per cent) said physical beauty was ‘healthy’, the most selected answer. Other significant choices were ‘happy’ (79 per cent), ‘having positive energy’ (68 per cent) and ‘loving my life’ (56 per cent).
Only 12 percent of respondents told us that their behaviour had NOT changed at all due to body image.
Our love affair with magazines is fizzling …
But we didn’t just learn what negative body image is stopping us from doing. We also discovered how our body image is changing our buying habits. More than 70 per cent of women said they purchased fewer magazines today than five years ago with varying reasons including being “fed up looking at skinny models” and the “rampant retouching of photos” to feelings of “being misled”.
And of course, this is where an overwhelming majority (82%) demanded that magazines be forced to disclose when they have photo-shopped or digitally altered an image. Sing it, sisters!
So whose body shape do we most admire? Hello Megan Gale.
We all see pictures of ‘ideal’, or at least idealised women and their bodies all day, every day. So which Australian woman do we most admire for her body type? While the responses were spread across some diverse choices, 30 per cent nominated model and TV presenter Megan Gale as their ideal. Asher Keddie also got the nod at 26 per cent, followed by Jennifer Hawkins; with one in five saying the former Miss Universe had their ideal body type.
Cosmetic Enhancement: Who’s doing what and when?
Women have been enhancing their looks (milk baths anyone?) since the year dot, but it’s a fairly recent phenomenon that cosmetic surgery or procedures are more accessible and also less unusual. So no body image survey would be complete without exploring attitudes towards cosmetic enhancements.
- Nine in ten of you categorise Botox as a cosmetic procedure. (So in people’s minds it’s certainly not yet treated the same as putting on make-up or wearing flattering clothes in an attempt to improve looks.)
- Similarly nine in ten (91%) of you have not had any kind of cosmetic procedure.
- Of the 9% of you who had, 70% were happy with the results.
- More than half (55%) of those who had had a cosmetic procedure were open about it, with the ‘work’ not a secret from anyone. But 23% kept the secret from their colleagues, 17% hid it from friends and 11% did not tell anyone at all.
- All survey respondents were asked if they would have a cosmetic procedure if money were no issue and nearly half (48%) agreed ‘hell to the yes’, making the cost potentially more of a barrier than attitude.
- Of the people who would cosmetically alter their appearance, 37% would have laser skin resurfacing, 36% say they would go under the knife and have a tummy tuck and 35% would have liposuction. A third of respondents would have Botox and more than one in five (22%) would enlarge their breasts. However, 17% would reduce their breast size given the opportunity, so that’s 39% of women who would somehow change breast size.
Thank you so much to Linda Collard for her awesome assistance with this survey.
How is your body image? Are you comfortable with your body? Do you think you are represented by the numbers in this survey?
Att media: here is the press release for the Mamamia Body Image survey results