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Positive body image linked to better life satisfaction, study finds

[Sept 6, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]

In an era where social media a groundbreaking study has emerged to provide new perspectives on the topic of body image. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

In an era where social media heavily influences our perception of beauty and physical standards, a groundbreaking study has emerged to provide new perspectives on the topic of body image. A monumental collaborative effort led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in England has delved deep into the association between positive body image and psychological wellbeing.

This extensive research, published in the renowned journal Body Image, has set a new benchmark by being one of the largest-ever studies conducted on this topic. The project involved a staggering 56,968 participants hailing from 65 diverse nations, presenting a global overview of perceptions surrounding body image.


The Focus on 'Body Appreciation'

The spotlight of the research centered on a crucial aspect of body image, termed 'body appreciation.' This term encapsulates a broader sentiment, defined as “accepting, holding favourable opinions toward, and respecting the body, while also rejecting media-promoted appearance ideals as the sole form of human beauty.”

Historical studies have already showcased the benefits of high levels of body appreciation. It has been linked with an array of positive wellbeing indicators such as robust self-esteem and healthier eating habits.


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Simultaneously, it has been negatively associated with debilitating issues like depression and anxiety. However, the global scope of body appreciation remained relatively uncharted until now.

The consortium of scientists, spearheaded by ARU, deployed the Body Appreciation Scale-2 (BAS-2) to garner responses. This scale comprises 10 impactful statements, including assertions like ‘I respect my body’ and ‘I appreciate the different and unique characteristics of my body.’


Key Findings

Professor Viren Swami

The outcomes of the study brought forth several pivotal insights:

  • There was a significant association between higher body appreciation and heightened psychological wellbeing, as gauged using a life satisfaction measurement.

  • Single participants and those living in rural settings demonstrated higher body appreciation. This suggests urban dwellers might feel exacerbated pressures from Western society’s body ideals.

  • A marked variance was observed in body appreciation scores across the participating nations. Australia, India, and the United Kingdom recorded the lowest scores, while Malta stood out with the highest.


Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at ARU and the driving force behind the study, weighed in on the results. He stated, “This is one of the largest studies on body image ever carried out, brought about by a collaborative research effort involving over 250 scientists across the world. Our finding that greater body appreciation is associated with better psychological wellbeing underscores the pressing need to foster more positive body image on a global scale.”

Ordering and Magnitude of Standardised Latent Mean Differences (Cohen’s d) Between Nations (as Compared to the UK; Left) and Languages (as Compared to English; Right). (CREDIT: ScienceDirect)

Delving deeper into the findings, Professor Swami added, “People in urban areas may be under amplified pressures to align with Western society's body ideals. In contrast, those in rural areas might benefit from their proximity to nature—a factor that past research has demonstrated to correlate with positive body image.”


A Testament to Global Collaboration

Professor Swami’s reflections didn’t just emphasize the findings but also celebrated the spirit of scientific collaboration. “This research also highlights what can be achieved when scientists from across the world come together to achieve a common goal.”

In a world progressively inundated with media-defined beauty standards, this study's findings are more relevant than ever. As nations and communities grapple with the repercussions of negative body images on mental health, there's an increasing need to promote body appreciation.


The path to cultivating global positive body image, as highlighted by this comprehensive study, demands collaboration, understanding, and concerted efforts.

For more international news stories check out our Global Good section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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