Self-esteem research has confirmed the harm repeated exposure to unnatural stereotypes can do:
- 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance.
- 81% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.
- Three-fourths of girls with low self-esteem engage in negative activities, like poor eating, bullying, smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, to "prove themselves."
- One of every three girls between 16 and 18 believes that sex is expected for people their age who are in relationships.
- One out of four college-age women has an eating disorder.
- Young women recently polled recorded more than ten brutal thoughts per person about their own bodies every day.
- Only 2% of women think they are beautiful.
Jean Twenge notes in Psychology Today that "the widespread belief that girls and women have low self-esteem and flawed self-concepts can set up negative expectations and self-fulfilling prophecies. When things go wrong--they aren't doing well at school or work, their relationships are going sour, or they are distressed and don't know why--they may conclude that it's because there is something wrong with their self-concept and personality rather than that there is something wrong in their environment."
"This really gives us some food for thought about the power of exposure to super-slim bodies," says Dr. Lynda Boothroyd of Durham University's psychology department. "There is evidence that being constantly surrounded through the media by celebrities and models who are very thin contributes to girls and women having an unhealthy attitude to their bodies."
Boothroyd's Durham researchers put a new twist on body dysmorphia by switching its basic assumption. They showed that women could appreciate normal and plus weights, in both ordinary women and models, when the ubiquitous thin images they saw were replaced by pictures of healthy women.
A 2009 academic study of women in sports concluded that overall, "positive self-esteem, or general self worth, allows individuals to feel good about who they are and what they can do, while at the same time giving them the confidence necessary to meet new challenges."
Based in Chicago, Sandy Dechert has been covering women's health for Examiner.com since the zine's official startup. She has reported on health issues with Olympic athletes, Sheryl Crow, Robin Roberts, Mary Tyler Moore, and other newsmaking celebs. Sandy also covered the 2012-2013 influenza epidemic, top women's health news of 2012 (including prevention), and the fungal meningitis outbreak.
If this article interests you, please "like" it, share or tweet, and/or send me a question or comment! To keep up with the most current news from science writer Sandy Dechert, "like" my professional page on Facebook, or click "Subscribe" here and Examiner will email you when I publish new articles. All pictures and quotations here remain the property of their respective owners. To repost this report in part or completely, contact the author for a swift response at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet @sandydec for updates. Thanks for reading!