Does Body Satisfaction Improve With Age?
Today, men and women of all ages tend to be concerned about their physical appearance and trying to reduce or hide their perceived ‘defects’. However, in the collective imagination, complexes and rejection of the body are usually more associated with females and adolescence. An interesting study has been proposed to test the veracity of this hypothesis. In addition, to answer the question of whether body satisfaction improves with age.
Our appearance is our calling card and, undoubtedly, it has wide repercussions. For instance, adjusting to the socially established canons of beauty can make it easier for us to find a job, partner, or enjoy more friendly relationships. Therefore, it’s not surprising that satisfaction with one’s own body is one of the most sought after goals.
However, how do the passing years affect this premise? Do we free ourselves from these demands as we grow older? Or, does the natural physical deterioration associated with aging increase our dissatisfaction? The results found are, to say the least, interesting.
Body satisfaction and age: how are they related?
The study was published in Body Image magazine. It detailed an experiment with 15,264 participants. 62.9 percent were women and the rest were men. The purpose of the research was to assess how the participants’ body satisfaction evolved over a six-year period, from 2010 to 2015.
To do this, they were asked to indicate their degree of agreement or disagreement with the following statement, “I am satisfied with the appearance, size and shape of my body.” Based on their responses in different years, the researchers drew certain conclusions.
The researchers’ objective was to check whether this concern or negative perception of self-image increased or decreased as the individuals matured. Furthermore, to discover if there were any differences between men and women in this regard. After analyzing the data, they reached the following main conclusions:
- Body satisfaction improves with age, in both men and women. However, this is only slight.
- In general, women under 54 years of age exhibit an upward trajectory in their body satisfaction. In other words, over the years, they feel more satisfied and happy with their body image.
- Men are more satisfied with their bodies throughout their life, compared to women.
The social and cultural influence on body satisfaction
These findings highlight the great influence that culture and environment have on the degree of body satisfaction. Previous premises lead us to consider the following:
Social pressure towards women is greater
Although men are also judged on their appearance and urged to fit in with beauty standards, social pressure toward women in this regard is greater. Indeed, the worth of women is still closely associated with their physical appearance. This places a much greater demand on them.
With age, priorities change
Undoubtedly, as we age, our bodies move away from the social ideals of youth and beauty. This, at first glance, could lead us to experience a greater concern for our appearance and a greater rejection of our image.
However, with age, physical appearance loses relevance and people begin to value other issues. For instance, wholeness, social relationships, self-fulfillment or even health top the list of priorities. This makes it easier for us to accept our own bodies and feel satisfied with them.
Body acceptance movements are promisingly positive
Fortunately, certain movements, such as body positivity, seem to help women’s satisfaction with their bodies improve. This trend, which promotes diversity and a compassionate and positive attitude towards one’s own body, has gained momentum in recent years. In fact, it’s causing more and more women and girls to value themselves beyond the narrow standards established.
Finally, we can conclude that body satisfaction remains relatively stable throughout life, although it may show a slight upward trend as we age. Furthermore, the way we see ourselves determines our self-esteem, our ability to relate to others, and the success we obtain in our lives. For this reason, it’s essential that we work and heal the relationship we have with ourselves.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Hockey, A., Milojev, P., Sibley, C. G., Donovan, C. L., & Barlow, F. K. (2021). Body image across the adult lifespan: A longitudinal investigation of developmental and cohort effects. Body Image, 39, 114-124.
- Mobius, M. M., & Rosenblat, T. S. (2006). Why beauty matters. American Economic Review, 96(1), 222-235.