Body image survey - What you said
In April 2010 we ran a survey about positive body image. The purpose of the survey was to get a better understanding about the way young people feel about themselves and what role the media has in those feelings.
As part of the survey we ran a competition offering a brand new Electra Cruiser bike as first prize to one lucky randomly drawn survey participant. Congratulations to Margie Banger from Wantirna South, who rode away with that excellent prize.
Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey. Here is a brief overview of its findings and some information about what will be done with the results.
Who took the survey?
The survey was completed by 436 people, the majority of which were aged between 16 and 19 years old. The overall age group breakdown of respondents was:
- 22% between 12 and 15
- 36% between 16 and 19
- 34% between 20 and 25
- 8% over 25
73% of the survey respondents were female, and 27% were male. 5% identified as either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and 14% identified as being from a culturally or linguistically diverse background.
What did they say?
Participants answered a series of questions about the media and body image.
Influences on self-esteem
The survey revealed that 62.8% of people surveyed felt that media and advertising sometimes had an impact on the way they felt about themselves.
When asked what most affected the way they felt about themselves, 88% said that friends affected them the most, followed by family (77%), fashion (69%), TV (62%), magazines (60%) and the internet (53%).
90.1% of all participants felt that the fashion and advertising industries should take some responsibility for how young people feel about their bodies.
Encouraging positive body image
When asked about ways to encourage positive body image in young people:
- 77% of survey respondents agreed that a diversity of body shapes in media and fashion would help
- 68% agreed that education on body image and media would help
- 59% agreed that fashion outlets should promote greater size ranges
- 57% agreed that digitally manipulated images should carry a warning
Other suggestions for encouraging positive body image included:
- Using models that are more realistic and representative of community diversity
- Emphasising the importance of healthy diet and proper exercise
- Banning the use of digital manipulation, or creating campaigns to raise the awareness of such practices
- Doing more to promote positive body image among young men
Survey participants were asked to offer their own comments and insights about the issue of positive body image. Here is a sample of what they said:
- "Celebrities who aren't the "perfect" figure should feature more on the front of popular magazines. Not only on and in female magazines but also male magazines, as what guys think about girls is a very large factor for lots of body conscious females. It should be stressed that size 12 is NOT fat, and that the inside matters far more than the outside."
- "I think more young people need to be aware that we are all different and do not have to be super skinny like the individuals in the media and advertisements etc. Digitally manipulating images should also be banned."
- "When I was in Year 7, girls my age stopped eating all together - and beause I still ate food I was considered "fat". Now that we are now 23 or older, most of my friends still do not eat to "keep their body figure". It is very sad to watch them do that to themselves, but it still makes me feel like the biggest person out of our group of friends (even though I know I am the healthiest one!)"
- "Everyone is beautiful in their own way and they should be taught positive thinking and learning about self esteem and confidence at school or even have get-together groups on the weekend for a healthy picnic or a day at the pool."
The results of this survey have been passed on to the Victorian Government's Ministerial Advisory Committee on Body Image, and will be used to inform, improve and develop the Victorian Government's ongoing responses to this important community issue.
In addition, as part of its commitment to advocate on your behalf, the Victorian Government will present the results to a Positive Body Image Industry Forum hosted by the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival and supported by the Victorian Government.
At the Forum key people in advertising, media and fashion will discuss perceptions and issues around body image and how they can proactively address these issues.
The results of the survey will also be used in upcoming research about how body image issues can be addressed across Victorian schools.
Thanks once again to everyone who participated in the survey.
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