In a world filled with negative messaging about women's bodies and unrealistic beauty standards, there's some good news: women are learning to love themselves. According to new research presented at the American Psychological Association's 124th Annual Convention, women today appear to be more accepting of their bodies than in the past. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis that included more than 250 studies representing 100,228 participants from 1981 to 2012. They analyzed trends in how people felt about their bodies, specifically in regard to weight. What they found was that while women were consistently more dissatisfied with their bodies than men, the dissatisfaction gradually declined over time.
"The last two decades have witnessed increasing attention and awareness on a body-acceptance movement aimed primarily at girls and women," said Dr. Bryan Karazsia, the study's author. Karazsia suspects that increase in visible body-positive role models, such as Ashley Graham, also factors into the trend.
Over the 31 years of data that researchers pored through, they found that men maintained the same level of dissatisfaction with their bodies over time.
"When we consider that humans in the United States, where most studies in our review were conducted, are physically larger than they have ever been, with more than two-thirds of U.S. adults being overweight or obese, one might expect that body dissatisfaction should be increasing," Karazsia said. "But we found the opposite."