A low level of body confidence has been found to have a significant impact on important aspects of everyday life such as mental health, love life, social life and event career progression, according to new research by Better.
The survey of 2,000 people found that women have a lower body confidence than men, with over half of female respondents claiming they are not confident about how their body looks, compared to 36% of men, while 41% of women and 28% of men saying this has a negative impact on their mental health.
Among both groups, it was found that 37% of people avoid wearing certain items of clothing, 22% would not take part in physical activity, 14% would not go on a date and 13% wouldn’t go on holiday. These numbers highlight the everyday issues people who suffer from low body confidence must face, with 7% saying that they wouldn’t even go to a job interview because of it.
The biggest impact was seen to be had on 18-24-year-olds however, with a massive 57% of respondents confirming that their mental health suffers due to their negative perceptions of body image, as well as 35% saying their career progression is also affected.
The study was conducted to better understand the issue of body image and body confidence which has become so prevalent in recent years due to the constant media images of the “perfect body”.
The high numbers of negative body image and mental health issues among the younger respondents could be linked to increased consumption of doctored images on social media platforms which are often accused of creating a false image and an alternate reality compared to the average body. Better’s Body Confidence Ambassador and radio presenter Tom Green said often the impact of social media can be “disastrous.” He said:
“I think it has a massive effect. Peoples ‘reality’, their ‘norms’ and understanding of what is right and wrong is built from what they consume around them.
“And more and more these days that reality is constructed through social media. A reality which is completely distorted and does not represent the truth. It’s edited, adjusted, photoshopped and contorted.
“People track their lives on likes and posts and comments… which is disastrous. I think this has a massive effect on people’s mental health and their internal barometer of ‘worth.’”
Social media influencer and model, David James Seed, who struggled with his own body confidence issues in his youth due to suffering from a structural deformity in his chest called pectus excavatum, said that social media can sometimes misrepresent reality. He said this sort of content could potentially cause some to become insecure and suffer in terms of confidence. He said:
“Social media is often a perception of someone’s life, only showing the ups and rarely the downs and cannot always be taken as reality. That needs to be understood. Unfortunately, there are influencers who do portray a false reality, false aesthetic, false success and this derives from their own insecurities and financial gain.“
But what can be done to turn the tide? Tom Green said:
“I think we all just need to self-govern a bit better and be honest. This comes through education. We don’t need to be “perfect”, to be liked and, more often than not, honestly is the best way.”
“Do what makes you happy and be comfortable in knowing what you are is enough. Confidence in all aspects comes from being comfortable, and that will only happen once you understand yourself and don’t judge your actions against those of other people.”
Indeed, in terms of social media changes, Instagram is now trialing a like-less platform in countries such as Australia due to concerns that ‘social media platforms can contribute to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy’, while Facebook have recently come out to say that it is “considering” hiding the number of likes in a similar move to Instagram.
This is apparently to remove the popularity contest of posting for more likes, which makes people feel bad, and can harm mental health over time when their posts don’t return big numbers.
It seems the negative impacts of certain platforms are being more widely understood and positive action to combat these mental health issues is moving in the right direction.