Many aspects of art are rooted in body confidence. Consider the person who models for your soon to be award-winning sculpture and those who volunteer to feature in nude life drawings to bring your pieces to life. But in the U.S., it seems there is still a widespread issue when it comes to feeling body confident, and truly loving ourselves for more than just our appearance.
So, we surveyed the country to discover which states are the most body confident and to get real-time insights into the ages we feel happiest with how we look.
We also spoke with Lindsay and Lexie Kite, Ph.D., authors of More than a Body, and co-directors of Beauty Redefined (@beauty_redefined) to gather insight on our study and provide advice for those who aren’t as body confident as they would like to be.
Revealed: The average age people in the U.S. start to feel confident in their body
Looking into age is so important when reviewing and discussing body confidence. Because with age, we change our views on so many things, including the positive or negative opinions we have towards our body image.
And it appears that the average age people in the U.S. start feeling confident in their bodies is 21 years old. Perhaps because this age marks the start of new beginnings. As advised by Lindsay and Lexie, “this might be the sweet spot where people finally feel more at home in their bodies, with them beginning to realize that the unrealistic beauty ideals they have been sold don’t actually bring them the happiness and love and success they thought they would. By that age, many people have moved away from home and expanded their friendship groups and associations to include more diverse people and experiences to help counteract the myth that you must be ideally beautiful to be happy, loved, and successful. And people entering adulthood today have the advantage of being able to see more diverse body representation thanks to social media than any generation before.”
In the grand scheme of things, it’s quite shocking to think that it takes getting to 21 to simply begin feeling confident. Maybe this is because we’re still developing in our teenage years, and we have to accept the new changes our bodies are going through. But when turning 21, it seems Americans really come into their own and start learning to love their bodies, and rightly so.
When asking Americans what inspires body confidence the most, the top factors include, ‘I love and accept my body exactly how it is’ (41%), ‘I am proud and grateful for my body’ (40%), and ‘I wear clothes that make me feel confident’. Maintaining a positive mindset and looking after their bodies also made it into the top five factors.
Which areas of the body are we the least confident in?
Feeling happy with the skin you’re in can vary from person to person. As, certain areas of the body may affect someone’s body confidence, which others feel fairly happy about. This is because everyone’s bodies are different – but in a good way, of course.
Americans are most body-conscious about their stomachs
It seems that overall, our stomachs are where our lack of confidence lies when it comes to body positivity, as this was the highest number recorded (57%) amongst the different body parts when we asked Americans what area of their body that they felt the least confident about. And, unsurprisingly, women are the ones who feel self-conscious about their stomachs (63%), with men not falling too far behind (43%).
Lindsay and Lexie share their thoughts on why this might be, “It is always discouraging to see how many people are ashamed of any aspect of their bodies, but it isn’t surprising to see that the stomach was an area of highest insecurity. If you think about it, even though beauty ideals have evolved to encompass more curves and some variety in size, a flat stomach, and tiny waist have remained consistently idealized. When curves are embraced in beauty standards and yet flat abs are also required, it makes sense that people feel ashamed of this unreachable stomach standard.”
Tips from the experts
The results may be in, but this doesn’t mean they can’t change. So, if you are part of the 35% that feel unconfident, here are four pieces of insightful advice unique to Lindsay and Lexie Kite, Ph.D., experts at Beauty Redefined, to positively change your opinions on your body and to help you start loving, and appreciating yourself:
1. Recognize self-objectification
“When you catch yourself monitoring your body, evaluating how you look as you move through your day, or basing your value or your mood on how you appear (what you hate or even what you like), recognize that you are self-objectifying. Or thinking of your body from the outside, as an object. It sneakily saps your mental and physical energy, happiness, confidence, and performance at all kinds of tasks.
“When you catch yourself picturing how you look instead of just living, you now have the opportunity to retrain your brain to prioritize your insider perspective instead of an outsider’s view.”
2. Retrain your brain
“When you are judging your body and opting out of things you want to do because you’re self-conscious (aka self-objectifying) – like going swimming, speaking up, or going to an event, stop. Instead, acknowledge how you’re feeling.
“Breathe deeply and shift your focus into your physical senses. What are you feeling, seeing, and experiencing through your body? What do you appreciate about those sensations and abilities? Memorize and repeat our mantra: “My body is an instrument, not an ornament.” Regardless of how you think you look, choose to use your body to participate, move, love, create, express, and play to prioritize the instrumental power of your body, not just its ornamental value.”
3. Curate your body image environment
“Take inventory of all the people, places, and messages that shape your perception of bodies — your own and other peoples. What do you see when you scroll? How do the characters in your shows look and how do they talk about bodies? How much body diversity of every kind are you exposed to? How do the people in your life talk about their own bodies or other people’s?
“Once you recognize what might be helping and hurting your body image, start to curate your media and social surroundings. How? By making some changes to your media diet and having some honest conversations with people who aren’t helping.”
4. Shift from comparison to compassion
“It’s easy to envision others as competitors for scarce resources like love, beauty, and validation, but that mindset keeps us divided instead of united. The next time you feel the sting of self-comparison or judgment against how someone looks, choose to extend compassion instead – to yourself and to them.
“Reflect on the burdens they are likely also carrying in a world that values people’s bodies above our humanity. What if they are just doing their best and so are you, and that’s okay, even if their choices look different from yours? What if their social media highlight reel isn’t totally realistic? (It’s not, and neither is yours most likely.) We’re all in this together.”
As well as taking note and actioning these positive tips to find the confidence to really love your body as it is, head over to our insightful blog and discover a whole host of articles discussing expressive art in various formats.
Celebrating Body Positivity auction
To help highlight the importance of celebrating body positivity, SINGULART artists have created a body positive art series with 15 different artworks specially crafted to encourage everyone to love themselves, exactly as they are. The auction goes live from September 30, with a percentage of proceeds being donated to Beauty Redefined, to help those that need support.