This article originally appeared in Psychology Today.
When we feel unhappy with how we look, we often feel unhappy with ourselves as a whole. Research shows that body dissatisfaction can degrade other areas of physical and psychological well-being, leading to, for example, disordered eating and low self-esteem. Yet, to date, it is unclear to what extent body dissatisfaction differs across the lifespan, and between cohorts of people. A recent study led by researchers in Australia and New Zealand aimed to shed light on exactly this issue.
Measuring Body Satisfaction across Time
In the study, 9,601 women and 5,663 men completed a measurement of body satisfaction several times across a period of six years. Namely, the participants were asked to indicate their response to the statement, “I am satisfied with the appearance, size and shape of my body,” on a scale from 1 = very inaccurate to 7 = very accurate. So, the higher a participant’s score, the higher their body satisfaction. Participants also reported their demographic information, such as their age and gender.