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Survey shows girls missing out on life through low body esteem

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06 Oct 2017

Almost two thirds of girls in the UK do not have high body esteem and are missing out on key life experiences as a result, a survey has found


Nine in 10 UK girls (85%) with low body esteem avoid activities such as socialising with friends and family or trying out for a team or club – more than the global average of 79%, the poll for Dove revealed.

It also found 88% of those with low esteem will risk their health by not seeing a doctor or miss meals, compared with 16% of those with high body esteem.

The global survey of more than 5,000 girls in 14 countries for the Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report found the UK is among the top three countries where the majority of girls – 61% – do not have high body esteem, surpassed only by Japan (93%) and China (65%).

It found that higher levels of body esteem have a lasting impact on a girl’s confidence, resilience and life satisfaction, while those with low body esteem are more likely to succumb to beauty and appearance pressures and withdraw from fundamental activities.

Some 71% of UK girls with low body esteem feel pressure to be beautiful, and 78% feel worse about themselves after looking at images of “beautiful girls” in magazines – 10 percentage points higher than the global average of 65%.

Phillippa Diedrichs from the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, said: “We still have an enormous amount of work to do in helping girls develop the resilience they need to overcome the impact of beauty and appearance pressures.

“We also need to change the social and cultural environment directly so that girls are not judged on their looks and are not held back from getting a seat at whatever table they want, be it in the boardroom, or in Parliament, because of body image concerns.”

Dove global vice president Sophie Galvani said: “Our research shows that a girl aged 17 is more likely to experience lower happiness and life satisfaction than a 10-year-old.

“This is a crucial moment in a girl’s life where pro-active intervention and support is needed, and that is exactly what the Dove Self-Esteem Project is designed to do – its evidence based tools, interventions and workshops are proven to help build positive body confidence in young people, and ultimately help the next generation reach their full potential in life.”


:: Edelman Intelligence surveyed 5,165 girls aged 10-17 online in India, the US, UK, Brazil, China, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Germany, Russia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

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