Whilst young women today may enjoy more freedoms and equality in both their careers and relationships than previous generations, new research reveals they are more lacking in confidence and self-esteem compared to older women when they were the same age.
In a cross generational study conducted by Weight Watchers, younger women, on average, have 50% less positive thoughts about themselves a day compared to their mothers’ generation and a third more negative thoughts per day.
For UK women, there is a strong correlation between body confidence and overall happiness, with 20% of women aged 50-65 reporting having body confidence in their 30s and 74% of the same group agreeing they were happy in themselves. Less than 10% of today’s 30 year olds felt they were happy in their appearance, with only 66% feeling happy overall.
This was further supported by the result that young women place more than four times more emphasis on physical improvement by working on their health and fitness (59%). Furthermore, only 5% of these women answered they were happy about their body and nearly half (47%) stated that their body was the area of their life they were most unhappy about.
However, young women reported higher degrees of confidence in their relationships and professional capabilities than their mother’s generation did at their age and the older women surveyed agreed that today’s young women are much more empowered (58%) than they were.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Katy Tapper, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at City University London, said:
“It is unsurprising that these findings indicate young women today are feeling far less confident in their bodies than the older generation did at the same age. The UK is seeing rising rates of obesity in young women which can contribute to decreased body confidence and lead to lower mood levels.”
Over half of the older generation concurred that the pressure to look good is more prevalent today (55%). This could be due to the perceived confidence that results from the current social media climate of confidence building through curated photographic representations of self.
Commenting on the findings, Zoe Griffiths, Head of Public Health and Programme at Weight Watchers, said:
“It is clear that women today are far harder on themselves in all aspects of life than their mothers’ generation was. From careers and relationships to the way they look, women today are pushing themselves to exceed in every way.
“This is a trend can have a huge impact on young women’s confidence which is why at Weight Watchers, we believe it is incredibly important for women to build a strong and positive relationship with body and mind. We want to empower women to focus on building greater self-belief to achieve positive change.”
This research has been conducted as part of #WomanKind, a nationwide campaign that explores why modern women are unkind to themselves and how they can counter this cultural habit, to make healthier choices by focusing on building greater self belief to build better relationships with themselves.