A few weeks ago I put out an online survey which delved into our perceptions of our bodies, and the factors that may contribute towards these. First off, I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete my survey, and in doing so helped me collect a great set of results I can share and discuss today. There are so many conflicting views about body image and what sort of things can affect it, which is why I wanted to collect some of my own data and see how it compares to what we’re led to believe. So without further ado, here are some of my most significant finds:
Let’s start on a positive note – 53.9% of respondents said they weigh themselves either ‘rarely’ or ‘never’. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this find. I think in society we are often bombarded with messages which pressurise us into looking a certain way or, more specifically, weighing a certain amount. I’m a strong believer that healthy looks very different on everyone, therefore messages about ‘ideal weights’ can be very damaging. I’m not saying that having a goal of weight loss is necessarily a bad thing; if done for the right reasons and in the right way it can totally be a positive and healthy experience. For example in the past, I really stressed about my weight and often tried to lose it because I disliked my body. I thought I was ‘fat’, and I thought that fat=bad. I was not at all overweight, and was just trying to lose it as I thought it was a magic key to making me feel better about myself. Fast forward to now and my goal is again weight/fat loss, but this time it feels a whole lot more positive simply because I am not doing it out of hatred for my body. It no longer is or feels like a punishment; I decided to lose weight to allow me to get fitter and stronger. I was at peace with the way my body looked when I was a stone heavier than I am now and I am at peace with my body throughout the process as well. When it comes to weight loss, I would say that learning to love your body before getting on the scales is the way forward. Once you have a good relationship with your body in every form, weight loss simply becomes a tool that you can use rationally, rather than an emotionally charged process. I would say that once you are at a point where you won’t feel upset if you haven’t lost a pound this week, and you won’t feel guilty for going ‘off-plan’, you are in a good position to pursue steady weight loss, if that’s what you feel is right for you.
50% of respondents answered 5 or less to the question ‘on a scale of 1 to 10, how confident do you feel in your body?’ and 61.5% said they feel ‘not at all comfortable’ or ‘slightly uncomfortable’ in a swimsuit.
This makes me sad, but not at all surprised. There are so many negative messages out there which can harm our body image, whether it be the damaging messages coming from the diet industry, along with all of its ‘miracle teas’ and ‘appetite suppressant lollipops’ (don’t even get me started on that). Or magazines claiming we should ‘love ourselves the way we are’ on one page and slating celebrities bodies on the next. There’s also social media, which I believe to be a huge influencing factor when it comes to body image, especially in the younger generation. I do believe, however, that social media is not in itself a negative thing; it depends how we use it and what we choose to promote. Which leads me to my next find…
Of the main social media platforms, Instagram has the most impact on body confidence (positive and negative), but a huge 72.7% of respondents said that Instagram affects their body confidence negatively.
As Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing social network, this didn’t come as a shock. I do, however, strongly believe that social media isn’t an inherently bad thing and can be used as a force for good. There are so many more people now who’re choosing to share empowering messages of self-love and acceptance via social media, which I think is amazing. It’s nice to see a wider variety of shapes and sizes blessing my Instagram feed, all looking glowing and full of life and beauty. My challenge to you would be to go through your social media followings, and unfollow any accounts which make you feel inadequate, and maybe find some others to follow that boost your self-esteem either through their images or inspiring captions. I did this a while ago and now my Instagram feed is full of positivity and diversity, and is an absolute pleasure to scroll through. Social media totally has the power to lift us up and help us love who we are, it’s just a case of following the people who motivate you. If you need some inspo on who to follow for maximum positive vibes on Instagram, take a look at last weeks blog post by clicking here.
92.3% of respondents felt they were not educated or were educated very little on body confidence and diversity at school.
Of all my survey results, this is probably the one I found most shocking. I agree with the 92.3% on this, as I can’t recall any sort of conversation going through school about body confidence or self-esteem. I’m a huge believer that school should be about helping young people to become strong and confident adults, as well as people who are academically successful. Getting good grades is not the most important thing about your teenage years; I would argue that finding your feet and getting to know who you are and what you’re about, as well as learning to love and take care of yourself is vastly more important and useful. The lessons you learn as a child and teenager help to shape who you are as an adult, so learning about how to be confident in yourself is the most important lesson in my opinion. Once you accept yourself for who you are, everything else seems a bit easier too.
The body confidence and self-love movement is gaining more and more traction at the moment. It’s so incredible and beautiful to see, and has helped me massively in accepting who I am. I think it’s down to us all to help lift each other (and ourselves) up, so post that bikini pic, eat that desert and nourish your mind as well as your body. Thank you again to everyone who took part in the survey, it’s been so interesting and inspiring reading all your responses. Stay tuned for the final instalment of my body confidence focused month next week!