Women Find Beauty Ideals Hard to Live Up To

Marketing to Women: Addressing Women and Women's Sensibilities, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Women Find Beauty Ideals Hard to Live Up To


Women worldwide find societal definitions of beauty to be constraining and difficult or impossible to attain, according to a study of global women commissioned by Dove. More than eight in 10 U.S. women age 18-64 (83%) believe that beauty is often too narrowly defined by physical attributes (see chart). Canadian women (85%) are most likely and Chinese women (24%) least likely to think so.

Nearly six in 10 U.S. women (57%) age 18-64 say it's hard for them to personally feel beautiful when they're confronted by today's ideals of beauty. U.S. teen girls age 15-17 are slightly more likely to say so (59%), but British teens (76%) are much more likely than either their American counterparts or their British elders (56%) to feel this way. Japanese (34%) and Chinese (52%) teen girls are least likely to say so.

Females under age 30 are more likely than those age 30 and older to want to change their physical appearance. Body weight and shape are the features women worldwide would most like to change about themselves.

More than 90% of girls and women age 15-64 in Japan (96%), the UK (95%), Canada (93%), and the U.S. (92%) want to change some aspect of their physical appearance. Those in Italy (78%) and Argentina (74%) are least likely to want to change their appearance.

Use of beauty products and services such as makeup and hair styling is most prevalent among females age 15-64 in Japan (90%), Germany (85%), and the UK (80%). Cosmetic surgery is most popular in Brazil (5%). Eating disorders are most prevalent in Italy (21%) and Brazil (19%). Women in Japan (54%), the UK (53%), and Argentina (53%) are most likely to diet. More than seven in 10 U.S. women (72%) use makeup and other beauty products and services, 46% diet, 10% engage in behaviors associated with eating disorders, and 4% have cosmetic surgery.

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In most countries, girlfriends, mothers, and the media are the strongest influences on teen girls' self image and body image. Girls in the U.S. are most likely to cite their mothers (40%) as the most powerful influences on their perceptions of their beauty and bodies. Boys (23%), female friends (22%), other girls (18%), the media (17%), and romantic partners (16%) are also significant influences. U.S. girls are significantly more likely than those in any other country to cite their grandmothers as influences; 12% of U. …

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