I’ve spent some time thinking about this survey. I couldn’t find any better information on the survey than the press release from the University of the West of England (UWE). Perhaps in the future it will be published in a journal for better review.
The survey was apparently done by the new eating disorder charity The Succeed Foundation in partnership with the University of the West of England (UWE). The editor’s notes indicate 320 women (ages 18 – 65 years, average age 24.49) studying at 20 British universities completed The Succeed Foundation Body Image Survey in March 2011.
Notably, the survey found that 30% of women would trade at least one year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight and shape.
The research has also found that in order to achieve their ideal body weight and shape:
- 16% would trade 1 year of their life
- 10% would trade 2-5 years of their life
- 2% would trade 6-10 years of their life
- 1% would trade 21 years or more of their life
I would love to see an age breakdown of the respondents here. Do we women become more comfortable with our bodies as we age? Or did as many of the over 50 year olds want to trade longevity for “the perfect body” as the 20 year olds?
In addition to longevity, the survey also notes that in order to achieve their ideal body weight and shape, 26% of the women surveyed were willing to sacrifice at least one of the following:
- £5000 from their annual salary (13%)
- A promotion at work (8%)
- Achieving a first class honors degree (6%)
- Spending time with their partner (9%)
- Spending time with their family (7%)
- Spending time with their friends (9%)
- Their health (7%)
Again, I would love to see an age breakdown. It would be interesting to see how this might differ between the younger respondents vs the older (over 50 year olds) ones.
The survey results suggest that body dissatisfaction was common among the women surveyed, with 1 in 2 women saying that more needs to be done on their university campus to promote healthy body image.
- 46% of the women surveyed have been ridiculed or bullied because of their appearance.
- 39% of the women surveyed reported that if money wasn’t a concern they would have cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance. Of the 39% who said they would have cosmetic surgery, 76% desired multiple surgical procedures. 5% of the women surveyed have already had cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance.
- 79% of the women surveyed reported that they would like to lose weight, despite the fact that the majority of the women sampled (78.37%) were actually within the underweight or ‘normal’ weight ranges. Only 3% said that they would like to gain weight.
- 93% of the women surveyed reported that they had had negative thoughts about their appearance during the past week. 31% had negative thoughts several times a day
Yes, I know as a plastic surgeon I make a living (in part) from cosmetic procedures, but I feel strongly that my nieces and other young women should be grow up to love themselves and their bodies.
*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*