In 2014, Glamour magazine asked readers, “How Do You Feel About Your Body?”
It produced some interesting results and some telling comparisons to their previous survey with the same question posted 30 years ago.
In the 1984 survey, 41 percent of respondents were unhappy with their body. Most of those rated themselves “too fat.” With the change over the last 30 years in the role of women in society, we figured the results of the Glamour survey would be quite different now. Not so.
Glamour surveyed 1,000 women between 18 and 40 for the new survey and guess what? Women feel worse about their bodies now. In the latest survey, 54 percent of the women were unhappy with their body.
Keeping up appearances
In the interim between 1984 and 2014, obesity has become a runaway train, and social media has exploded to provide a much bigger platform to make comparisons and judgments. Women now have greater variety and larger numbers of individuals with whom they can compare. Plastic surgery options have risen over the years to perfect perceived imperfections.
How girls and women feel about their bodies is very often how they feel about themselves. In the recent Glamour survey, 30 percent of the women said bad body image has stopped them from having sex, 27 percent said it has kept them from meeting new people, and 17 percent reported it has removed them from the dating scene.
Help for your daughter
Dad, you already know that your daughter’s image is important to her. What she wears and how she looks can have what we dads might consider unreliable, unrealistic and untrue impact on our daughters’ lives. So how do we stop the cycle and get our children to focus on more appropriate, more realistic markers for happiness and success?
The Glamour survey suggests some things that might help:
• Have your daughter focus on two or three things that she is proud of, things that would make her happy that have nothing to do with appearance. Have her make a list and stick it up somewhere so she can see it every day.
• Inform her that visual images on social media often are heavily edited. Among the plethora of photos, she will always find girls who are taller, thinner, and certainly more air-brushed. It’s not about being the best somebody else; it’s about being the best you.
• Help her to quit searching for images with which to make comparisons. Direct her focus toward activities that highlight her talents and reveal the beauty that is uniquely her.
• Encourage her to treat her body with respect through healthy eating and regular exercise.
Los Angeles clinical psychologist Jessica Zucker says, “It takes immense courage to love ourselves as we are, but it's very possible. I've seen it happen time and again with my patients. We can turn this around.”