Nine out of 10 Australian women have regular “fat days” and most are miserable about their bodies, a survey has found.
The survey, conducted by two Melbourne universities, paints a bleak picture of women who don’t like seeing their reflection in the mirror.
More than two-thirds of women feel uncomfortable looking at themselves naked in the shower.
Almost half feel fat every single day and spend each day desperately wanting to lose weight.
About a third of women surveyed were trapped in a “vicious cycle” of repeatedly checking their tummy, thighs and bottom to see how much they could allow themselves to eat.
This made them feel anxious and distressed, according to the survey’s principal investigator Adrian Schembri.
Only one woman in 10 was not at all dissatisfied with their weight.
“Australian women have high levels of dissatisfaction with their body shape and weight,” Mr Schembri concluded.
He warned that a disturbing number of women were at risk of an eating disorder.
The online survey is being conducted by RMIT and La Trobe University and is still open.
More than 400 women have taken part so far.
How do you feel about your body? Does this ring true for you?
I’m never been happy with my body and will never be. Most of the women I know think like me about themselves, so I suppose it’s not only an issue for Australian women, but for Italian ones as well. Maybe it’s a bit different for British women. At least I hardly ever hear them complain about themselves in “public”! Have a great time in LA. Ciao. A.
I don’t feel that way about my body. Okay, I do have individual parts on my body that could do with some improvement but as an overall package, I quite like my body. It’s strong yet soft, and slim yet curvy. The worst thing is that when the ritualised complaining about body parts kicks off amongst groups of women I know, I always feel so ostracised for actually liking my body.
One of the great things abut being 60 is that you are just grateful to be here. Have lost several dear friends lately, too young. Sure I occasionally miss being able to wear anything, and being described as “lithe” but I’d like to say to those women, please keep focused on what it’s all about.
Imogen, I’ve been reading for a while now, but this post has spurred me into commenting. So here is one Canadian’s perspective:
Will my body at 50 ever be like it was at 20? No. Would I like the scale to show a slightly lower number? Sure.
However, I think everyone has aspects of their physique that they’d like to improve (or to be different). But in the grand scheme of things, I’m certainly okay with my body. It is sturdy enough to let me swim 35 – 45K a month, and for that, I’m very grateful.
The older I get the more I appreciate (rather than like) my body.
Having said that would I like to lose 10 pounds?
Can I be bothered to go to the lengths I would have to, to lose 10 pounds?
I have a greater appreciation for my body than ever before. I’ve always been incredibly grateful for what it can accomplish (if unhappy with its appearance at times), but lately I think it’s all good. Sure, I could be more perfect but I could also look a lot worse. And I’ve got style on my side so I always look my best. 🙂 I’m almost 40 and I feel good in my skin. I hope I can feel even better about myself at 50!
I see famous and semi-famous people almost every day (I saw Heather Locklear a few days ago) so even the normal women around me are influenced by the Southern California MILF look. After seeing these women so often I no longer want the things that they have. All these women excercise a lot and have fabulous figures but they also have a lot of plastic surgery. I can see why breast implants are starting to go out of fashion. It is a very “hard” look (that is meant to have double-meaning). They look good in pictures but up close it is course and looks very fake (chest, face/tan, hair, lips).
I think if women learned how best to dress their bodies and do their hair and makeup, they would feel so much better about themselves and would not worry so much about their weight.
I feel good about my body and worry only about fitting into the clothes I love and being healthy.
There have been times where I really struggled with body image. And right now, I am losing weight with Weight Watchers and it has really helped me to appreciate my body (it actually CAN lost weight!! Who knew??) even though I still have 30 lbs. to go!
I also remind myself that by working on the presentation (by reading and implementing ideas on your blog) I can improve my how I think of my body, and how it is percieved by others.
I have been working out regularly for 3 years now and have noticed a huge difference in the way I feel and look in my clothes. Really I’ve gotten more toned and maybe lost 5 pounds, being a size 8 is okay with me, I just look better in that size now than I did. It always amazes me though that even though I’m more toned and have lost a few pounds I still look the same in the mirror, just a little thinner. Would I like to look like some sort of bathing suit model, yes I would, am I committed to the amount of exercise it would take to look like that? No. Overall, I am pretty happy with the way my body looks.
I’ve always been body-conscious, probably since childhood when my mom kept trying to get me to lose weight (and when I look at old photos, I wasn’t overweight!). So here I am, at 43, still obsessing about weight and body image. I’m happy where my weight is now, but if it starts creeping up I get worked up. In general, I like my body, but haven’t quite accepted the effects of middle-age and childbearing (namely, a wider, mushier waist!).
I would love to say that I feel good about my body and shape but to be honest, I worry about my belly and finding things to fit it!
I know that life is short like Duchesse says but there are days that my belly just looks at me! LOL
Hmmmmm…I have to say I don't feel uncomfortable, anxious or depressed about my body. I don't "feel fat", but I recognize that I could have less body fat and more muscle mass (and would also have more strength and endurance if I did). I used to be quite into bodybuilding (training 4-5 days/wk), and when I was working out regularly, I was about 2-3 dress sizes smaller than I am now.
I haven't made working out as much of a priority in the past few years, but I'm getting to the point where I really want/need to be lifting again – for reasons that have as much to do with general health/fitness as they do with vanity.
The problem I have with these types of surveys is that they (usually) don't have any categories that accurately reflect my opinion of myself. Maybe I should go look at this one and come back & report what I find.
Antonella – isn’t is sad that so many of us are never happy with our bodies, yet it’s the only one we get?
Adressandabike – it’s great that you feel good – congratulations!
Duchesse – so true – such sage advice.
Wendy – thanks for commenting – I’m glad you’ve found some peace with your body.
Jane – you are so gorgeous as you are!
Kline – I love that “style is on your side”!
Leah – I do hope breast implants do go out of fashion – they present an unrealistic shape to the world.
Mrs MK – good luck with your weight loss (even though luck has nothing to do with it!). The better you present, the more positive feedback you’ll get.
Maria – size 8 is GREAT!
CCiele – isn’t it terrible that your mother gave you a complex when you were young, yet there was nothing wrong?
Lady Jicky – those are the days I get out the shapewear!
ChristineB – I read one study that said that women who worked out with weights were happier overall with their body than others as they could appreciate their strength and what their body could do for them.
It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it. I think i would like to be a bit taller and thinner, but my body has served me well for over 50 years, and while I would like to have more slender legs, a friend who has GREAT legs has them confined to a wheelchair. Having done Imogen’s colour and style analysis I can at least dress to my body shape and feel confident even though I’m still short arsed!!
I alternate between being totally okay with my size and how I look to wanting to call up a plastic surgeon to see how much lipo and a boob job would cost. Up until I had kids, I NEVER had to worry about weight – I was super skinny. Now, I’m an 8/10 which is by no means huge but I have a real issue with my stomach area. (Hence the reason I’m getting a tummy tuck for my 30th birthday!) I’d say I’m totally average as far as body image is concerned!
Not only do I appreciate my strength and what my body can do for me, I know that I can dramatically change how my body looks and feels, because I've done it before. All it takes is the effort – and at the moment, I'm just not willing to put as much effort into it as I was nine or ten years ago.
I have no doubt I would be two sizes smaller if I just showed up at the gym regularly for 8-10 weeks, cut out (OK, cut back!) on the wine, and paid a little more attention to what I was eating & the portion sizes. It's just not the most important thing in my life right now, is all. 🙂
Imogen – I don’t know if I communicated what I wanted to with my last comment :)! My main point was that a few of us that read your blog see in real life these people who are on TV and grace the tabloids. These people affect how many women feel about their bodies. Many of these actresses and their friends are very nice people but many of them don’t look natural when you see them up close. I think the great thing about the Internet and blogs is that it allows all of us to find people who share our style and body shape. Instead of being dictated to by the fashion industry, we all can find people just like us to inspire our style and to feel proud of who we are.
You know, as an asthmatic who would love to go for a run and have better lung fitness, I have learnt to appreciate what I can and cannot do. I also have grown to ‘live with’ my body (especially my billiard table legs) and put them in the best light when dressing. I also think blogging has really helped me to see ‘real’ women who look good and are positive about their body regardless of body shape.
Well… sometimes I get close, but not often. I *am* carrying extra weight so it might be that my concern is justified, and I'm currently just in a body image funk, period. I mean, I'm in my twenties so in theory I should be in the best shape of my life… and that's rather depressing.
However, while I might cringe about exposing myself in a bathing suit, I'm not miserable about my body. I know that I can look attractive and polished, and photo-blogging has really helped me recognize that (as well as documenting foolproof looks for days when I DO feel awful.) I also recognize that even though I'm not in phenomenal shape, I've built up strength from light weight training & toning, and developed better core control and a bit more gracefulness from dancing.
I guess the best way to answer your question is that I don't love the way my body looks, but I appreciate what it can do/what I've accomplished.
In my opinion it’s not bad being fat women………… Big is beautiful, is that right?
One big reason for this is: we see so much naked bodies every day, but so few REAL naked bodies ! All we see is photoshopped, airbrushed and impossibly styled bodies in the meadia.
Some real bodies:
Normal breasts gallery:
snowy night, washington heights: http://www.jordanmatter.com/view.asp?url=/exhibits/broadband/nudes_01/003_snowy_night,_washington_heights.jpg&id=003_s&path=/exhibits/broadband/nudes_01
I’m an Australian woman living in the US – and yes, this rings true for me. Very much so.
MaryKathleen – thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
Taylor – hope the surgery goes well!
ChristineB – you sound like you’ve got it sorted out pretty well!
Leah – I don’t think many actresses etc. look natural on screen either! There is often such a falseness and hardness about them, which I find sad, but because all the mags are thrusting them infront of us as role models, and we’re told that they are what men want, it’s hard to not think we’re way too fat and wrinkles in comparison!
They are not normal, and it’s their job to maintain themselves to the highest levels.
Mervat – isn’t health the most important thing!
Kari – there is no one time we are at our best! We can only be the best we can be at any time.
Eternal Voyager – I see lots of bodies pretty frequently, and they make me feel very normal!
Tea Lady – thanks for commenting!
I wish I could be as sage and sanguine as la Duchesse. I haven’t hit 60, but am over 50, and not all my friends who are 60+ are serene at all, though we have all lost the same friends (and lost relatives who were younger or not much older).
Also, one who is particularly sanguine has settled into an “elder” role that I find annoying – she looks like a shadow, as she is very pale and has stopped adding a bit of blonde to her hair, and never wears makeup. Same age as la Duchesse, but suddenly seems much older than us, though she has beautiful skin and is not overweight.
dress and bicycle, was fine with my bod at your age, posed nude in art class (art student). I ride my bicycle everywhere except in the dangerous icy depth of winter, and have leg and bum muscles as nice as yours. But that doesn’t stop gravity and the horror of menopausal weight gain I’d love to go swimming but I’d have so starve myself for months to be slim enough to (I know, lunarossa, “la bella figura” – though I’m a longterm feminist I see women much larger than me exposed on beaches and cringe (yes, I know that is shameful, but I’d never, never humiliate another person about his or her body). I don’t want to be someone others point to in disgust.
This is a problem as our winters are severe and I don’t get enough cardiac exercise in wintertime. I walk a lot, even down to the city centre from where I live several km morth of there (near Jean-Talon if you are familiar with Montréal or have a map), but it isn’t enough to feel the way I want to feel.
Right now with the beautiful spring flowers and leaves I feel alive and get plenty of exercise, but it would be nice if all year long could be like that.
Imogen, your blog is wonderful, and so informative. Thank you.
that is so unpleasant to read, it makes me feel for all these people. what kind of world do we live in if 2/3 women is this unhappy with their body image? it really makes you mad. I think there are a lot of effort society can make to make this unfair self-deprecation go away, if society would want it. personally i constantly compared my body with everything from playmates to the girl next door until the mid 20s when I just realized I had a beautiful body in my own way. Often I look at it appreciatingly and think it's sensual, personal and lovely. Im slim though, but I never get why "bigger" women doesnt like themselves ( I get it mentally, but not in reality) as I think they look great, and I still compare my body to every body that I dont have or some ideal one that boys 8in general, phew!) seem to apprecaite. I get body-jealous very easily. not just the pinup girls, but the ordinary girl on the beach with a certain shape or charm, and I get bad thoughts like " my eventual boyfriend would probably think she is more girlfriend-material than me2" or something stupid like that. i constantly compare, but parallel to that I really do love my body and think it's wonderful. I just want to be sure the people I fancy look at it the same way and that they wont look at me as a replacable sexual object. to feel worthy in my own me. But objetically, I feel people get beautiful in that un-replacable, noble worthy way if they feel good about themselves and their own worth..
really have this fear of being "replacable" and not finding someone who will find enough worth in me, think my soul and boy is enough, and not constantly would want to objectify all these other girls and compare them to me while he is with me. I really get a dry troat and heavy stomach and feelings of panic when guys do that, I feel so replacable and " not good2enough" so I need to have a bf that will appreciate me.