More than half of girls are missing out on key opportunities in life due to low body esteem, according to a new report.
Research from Dove, published by HuffPost UK , interviewed over 5,000 participants aged 10-17 for the report, across 14 countries. Dove used the Mendelson scale, which is a measure made up of 18 statements, to determine the results of the study.
The report discovered that almost six in ten girls globally have avoided taking part in an activity due to the way they look. 53 per cent of UK girls have avoided an activity due to their appearance while Japan came out as the least affected, with just 22 per cent of girls saying the same.
Russian and Indonesian girls were the most affected, with 75 per cent of those surveyed worried about their looks.
It also found that having higher levels of body esteem had a lasting impact on each participants confidence and satisfaction with life as they enter adulthood, whilst girls with low body esteem are more likely to concentrate on high beauty standards and appearance pressures.
Those with low body esteem will avoid fundamental life-building activities such as socialising or joining clubs and sports teams.
For the Mendelson scale, girls were asked how much they could identify with certain statements, such as ‘I would change lots of things about my looks if I could’, or ‘I am proud of my body’.
After all 18 statements, they were then given an overall ‘body esteem’ score.
Interestingly, despite previous research alluding that social-media sites such as Instagram and Twitter could be having a negative impact on the mental health of teenagers, the Dove report has suggested that girls may be using social media to boost their body esteem.
51 per cent of respondents who use social media said they feel more confident interacting with people online. 78 per cent of those surveyed with high body esteem said they think they are beautiful even if they look different from women in the media.
Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, associate professor at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of West England, tells HuffPost UK that she’s not surprised by the Dove findings.
“The findings in Dove’s paper are supported by academic research where we see body image concerns impacting all key areas of girls’ lives. This includes their mental and physical health, social lives, and their education and work aspirations,” she says.
“While I’m not surprised, I am motivated to stop this. There are tangible steps we call take to address this issue and it’s not a time for us to be complacent.”