Dove's Body Confidence Campaign and Britain's shockingly low ranking

‘Girls of all kinds can be beautiful – from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It's not easy though because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box...Think outside of the box...Pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.’ Tyra Banks on body confidence

Although we have many amazing women, such as Tyra Banks, leading the way in changing how we perceive beauty, traction for change in our body confidence is slow. Dove is renowned for celebrating real life beauty and claims that ‘beauty is not defined by shape, size or colour – it’s feeling like the best version of yourself’. In a bid to delve deeper into body confidence, Dove has completed it’s largest ever body confidence campaign which uncovers the concerns surrounding women and girls body image issues from around the world.

The results of The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report were shocking yet unsurprising. In Dove's body confidence campaign, more than 10,500 women and girls, aged between 10 and 60, from 13 countries around the world were surveyed. The results: women and girls still face huge pressure within the UK to fit a certain body image.

Video: Dove Evolution - Dove's self-esteem project

We question the reasons that so many women still feel immense pressure to conform to a certain image. However, if the above video is a true representation of how media and advertising images are created, it is no wonder that women and girls have a distorted body image.

The results
Shockingly (or perhaps not so), the UK ranked as having the 2nd lowest body confidence, out of the 13 countries that were included in Dove's body confidence survey.

Percentage of women who feel body confident
  1. South Africa: 64%
  2. Russia: 45%
  3. Turkey: 42%
  4. India: 40%
  5. China: 37%
  6. Mexico: 36%
  7. Germany: 34%
  8. Brazil: 27%
  9. US: 24%
  10. Canada: 22%
  11. Australia: 20%
  12. UK: 20%
  13. Japan: 8%

Table showing the percentage of women who have body confidence in 13 countries around the world.

Japan was the most body conscious country with just 8% of women feeling body confident and South Africa was the least body conscious country out of the 13 surveyed, with 64% of women feeling body confident.

Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report
Source: The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report is the third and most comprehensive study Dove has undertaken on the topic, building on two previous studies published in 2004 and 2010

Media and advertising has been suggested as one of the biggest players in setting unrealistic standards of beauty. Pressure from media and ever increasingly social media is having a direct effect on the levels of body confidence within the UK. The stereotype of beauty, created by the media, is placing, sometimes unforeseen, pressure on girls and women to conform to the ‘norm’ and look a certain way.

Most worryingly, this pressure to meet these fake beauty standards is having a large impact on women’s day-to-day lives. Women and girls have expressed that during times of low body confidence, they are more likely to opt out of social situations, put their health at risk, become less assertive and feel pressure to never make mistakes or show weaknesses. These statistics are the real reasons we need to be calling for change in the way beauty is portrayed in media and advertising.

Call for change

70% of women want the media to portray a more diverse range of appearance, age, race, shape and size. This statistic is screaming out for change and yes we are seeing small steps in the right direction, but in order to make a significant impact we all need to come together on this issue. Although, there is increased understanding about how images are edited within the media and advertising, women still say that seeing images of attractive women in magazines or online makes them feel inadequate.

The young women of the UK are trying to live up to unrealistic standards. Standards that do not advocate a healthy lifestyle. Our young women are easily influenced and we need to ensure that the images surrounding them are portraying a healthy and realistic message.

Image via Instagram @Dove promoting the value of body confidence being passed down from the women in our lives #BeautyStory

London’s call for change It seems that many European countries are beginning to put their stamp on the body confidence issue. France, Israel, Italy and Spain have all made changes to their industry standards, which prevent stick-thin models being used within media and advertising.

London has recently advocated change in the images portrayed, following a contentious Protein World ad, which asked “Are you beach body ready?” Sadiq Khan encouragingly made the decision to ban advertising images, promoting unrealistic beauty standards on London’s pubic transport system. This long awaited and called for change in regulation on the advertising images used in London, comes into play from July 2016.

Inspiring change

We spend our lives striving to meet the perfection seen and portrayed in the media, but unless you can physically airbrush yourself each and everyday meeting these beauty standards is not possible. Dove's body confidence campaign hopes to inspire people to talk about beauty and the unrealistic standards placed upon young girls and women. The more people talk about it the more traction the issue will get and ultimately action will be taken. Hopefully, we will begin to see more and more milestones for changing society’s issues with body confidence, such as the up coming ban on advertising images which endorse unrealistic beauty standards.

“The messages we send to ourselves and to other women, what we relay to our children, those messages have to be based on reality.” Drew Barrymore

Do you agree with Drew Barrymore? Do we need a greater grasp on reality to allow ourselves to increase our body confidence?  

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