Body image and self esteem: what would you sacrifice to achieve the ideal?

Posted by on Apr 8, 2011 in appearance, weight | 7 comments

What would you trade to reach what you considered your ideal body weight and image? How much would you sacrifice?

The question seems absurd doesn’t it? However, researchers from the University of West England, in partnership with The Succeed Foundation, that body image is a major issue for women of all ages.

Although this survey of 320 women mostly comprised university-aged women, the breakdown did skew as high as 65 years. Moreover, the majority were of normal (i.e. BMI 18.5 to 24.9) weight.

Of all the women surveyed, 93% said that they had had negative thoughts about their appearance and nearly a third, several times daily. Approximately 80% said they would like to lose weight, even though about 78% were of normal weight or underweight. What’s more, the women said that on average, they would like to lose about 16 pounds. However, most importantly, 30% of women said that they would trade at least a year of their lives to achieve their ideal body shape and weight.

Other sacrifices to achieve the ideal included:

  • losing over $8,000 from their annual salary
  • giving up time with their partner
  • forgoing a promotion at work.

Numerous studies and reviews have documented the association between age and body image but have mostly focused on adolescents and teens. In recent years, more and more reports are emerging that demonstrate that eating disorders and issues with body issues is not necessarily age-centric.

There’s no doubt that images of young models dressed and made up to look like women  and airbrushed celebrities the permeate the media scape have contributed to if not exacerbated the problem. However, what is it the makes women consistently strive for an unreasonable ideal throughout their lifetimes, so much so that they are willing to sacrifice basic necessities and relationships to achieve this goal?

As women, we’ve come very far. But clearly, many of us clearly continue to give their power away when it comes to self-image, self-esteem, achievement in the workplace and even in our relationships. This study is a wake-up call, not only to our generation but to generations of women who are following in our footsteps.

So tell me, what would you sacrifice to achieve the ideal?


  1. 4-8-2011

    If I was guaranteed to not have to continue my struggle against the ever increasing midsection, I’d gladly reduce my life expectancy by a year. I probably wouldn’t miss it. No one knows what tomorrow brings; I’d rather be happy today. Sign me up for this experiment! :o)

    • 4-8-2011

      Hey Ms. Rasberry. What an interesting perspective. Ironically though, the things we feel we are willing to sacrifice now might not be worth it at the back end. Context is everything…

  2. 4-8-2011

    This is very interesting. I surely do have negative thoughts about my body image and would love to feel better about those but at what cost. Hmmm. I can’t help but wonder if my thighs were great, wouldn’t I just stress about my knees? Or my crows eyes? I think I’ll stick with what I have.

    • 4-8-2011

      I think that you are probably right Wendy. Ideal will never be good enough.

  3. 4-8-2011

    I wonder if this (really)means that women would trade these things IN EXCHANGE for having to put the hard work in to achieve weight loss, etc.Sometimes people want an easy fix…

    • 4-8-2011

      Sheryl – I would imagine so. If you look at the study, the majority of these women were of normal to underweight. So they were already ideal in the eyes of women.

  4. 1-28-2012

    It seems to me that these women would be ready to trade the very things (love, respect and better financial position) they desire to attain through beauty. Makes you think…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *