Women today appear to be accepting their bodies more than in the past, especially regarding weight, than men, according to a new research. Body dissatisfaction is not only a common predictor of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and binge eating, but also can play a role in the development of depression. Men, however, reported more body dissatisfaction than women when it came to muscularity but, over time, levels remained relatively consistent for both men and women.
“While women consistently report being more dissatisfied with their bodies than men as far as thinness is concerned, that dissatisfaction has decreased over the 31-year period we studied,” said Bryan Karazsia, researcher at the College of Wooster in a statement. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of more than 250 studies representing 100,228 participants to analyse trends in how people felt about their bodies, specifically in regard to weight.
They found that while women consistently were more dissatisfied than men their dissatisfaction gradually declined over time. However, dissatisfaction among men remained relatively constant throughout. The researchers conducted a similar meta-analysis, this time focusing on muscle size. They analysed 81 studies representing more than 23,000 participants over a 14-year span. Body image issues among men are not always about thinness but mostly related to musculature, the researchers suggested.
“When we consider that humans who are physically larger than they have ever been, one might expect that body dissatisfaction should be increasing. But we found the opposite. The last two decades have witnessed increasing attention and awareness on a body acceptance movement aimed primarily at girls and women,” added Karazsia.