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3 in 10 women are uncomfortable with their appearance by 16 years old

According to research comments made about their appearance at school and comparing themselves to friends negatively impacted women from an early age

Charlotte Minett
Friday 31 March 2023 21:51 BST
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<p>Weight, body shape and dress size were all amoung the main things said to affect body confidence</p>

Weight, body shape and dress size were all amoung the main things said to affect body confidence

A poll of 2,000 females found their weight, body shape and dress size are the main things to affect body confidence.

Comments made about their appearance at school (28 per cent) and comparing themselves to friends in real life (26 per cent) negatively impact the way women feel from an early age.

With strangers (14 per cent) and siblings (10 per cent) making them feel the most self-conscious.

As women get older, factors such as grey hairs, wrinkles, and drooping breasts lead to a lack of love for their body – and one in 10 even feel that incontinence leads to low self-esteem.

And 21 per cent are simply self-conscious about their age in general.

Lisa Snowdon, who is working with TENA, which commissioned the research, has spoken of how she didn’t find her stride until she was 50.

She said: "Over the years when I think back to the bullying at school and some of the negative comments and abusive relationships, I needed to dig deep and find my own sense of self worth and push all that negativity away."

TENA spokesperson, Nancy Sadler, said: “It’s common to have body hang ups but it’s a shame to see these concerns start at such a young age.

“Weight and ageing are the most common concerns, but they are all such natural processes.

“We all grow older and experience a lower metabolism, wrinkles and even incontinence, so it’s nothing we should be embarrassed about.”

The research also found only 24 per cent currently feel “very” confident about their appearance.

A third inherited concerns about the way they look from their guardians as they were growing up – after overhearing their views on their own body hang ups.

And 35 per cent think their parents could have done a better job at helping them understand body image as a child.

But 64 per cent believe having a bad relationship with the way they look impacts their mental health.

While 55 per cent believe it effects their romantic relationships.

The time women feel worst about their appearance is when they see themselves in photos (44 per cent) and when they look in the mirror (35 per cent).

And 33 per cent feel least attractive when they are trying on clothes.

But the study, carried out via OnePoll, found 62 per cent believe, as a woman, they are expected to live up to an unrealistic beauty ideal.

Nancy Sadler added: “Children are highly impressionable, and are constantly learning from superiors, so if they are hearing other people’s body concerns it’s no surprise it impacts their own as they get older.

“There are a lot of unrealistic expectations women are expected to live up to, but it seems unfair there is such a negative stigma surrounding the female body.”

Top 20 things to negatively affect body confidence:

  1. Weight
  2. Body shape
  3. Dress size/ clothing size
  4. Age
  5. Teeth/ a dental condition
  6. Fitness
  7. Wrinkles
  8. Grey hairs
  9. How you look in certain outfits
  10. Skin
  11. Drooping breasts
  12. Hairstyle
  13. Visible cellulite
  14. Stretch marks
  15. What you wear
  16. Feet
  17. Eyebrows
  18. Hands
  19. Nails
  20. A specific skin condition

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