A new Special K #OwnIt Body Confidence Survey has revealed that 7 out of 10 Australian women have an -I hate my body' moment every single week.
The unforgiving voice inside our heads can give way to self-doubt about our bodies. In fact, the most common focus of body negativity for Australian women is their mid-section, with four in five women (82 per cent) worrying about their belly and waist area. How women feel about their belly/waist impacts on all women equally, whether young or old, whether they have children or not, or are married or not.
Nearly half (47 per cent) of women fret about their legs; 39 per cent are concerned with their arms or bum; and almost 37 per cent are unhappy with their skin.
The survey also found that the impact of self-doubt goes well beyond what they see in the mirror ― self-doubt can prevent Australian women from being their best-selves at work and in their personal lives:
62 per cent (3 in 5) of Aussie women don't wear certain clothes due to doubt about their physical appearance
Almost half (48 per cent) have avoided beaches or pools for fear of wearing a swimsuit
More than one in three (39 per cent) women have stayed within the dressing room when trying on clothes because of doubts about their appearance
29 per cent have been too self-conscious to dance when attending a wedding, party or club
Nine per cent of women go so far as to not apply for a job that they felt that they were qualified for because of doubt about their physical appearance
This degree of self-doubt can lead women to fixate on the negative, rather than focus on what they love about themselves and changing their own perspective. This is why Special K Australia is embracing a new attitude and calling on women to do the same; today announcing its new mantra that celebrates women by encouraging them to -ditch their doubt' and #OwnIt.
#OwnIt campaign ambassadors, body image specialists Sarah Harry and Fiona Sutherland of Body Positive Australia praised Special K for this campaign as it aims to raise awareness of the variety of ways women can feel good about the bodies they have, and reduce pressure on women to conform to unrealistic ideals and perceptions of their bodies.
'As body positive activists, clinicians, teachers and researchers we are excited to see such a shift in advertising, as media can be such a contributor to negative body image. Women feeling good enough in their own -perfectly imperfect' skin is something we rarely see in media, yet we know that to be a way women can build resilience and body positivity.
'It is fantastic to see a diverse range of bodies, sizes, abilities and even sexualities represented in mainstream media. We know that women absorb thousands of messages a day; most telling them they are not good enough and so a campaign like Special K's #OwnIt can help create change on many levels.
'We hope the Special K #OwnIt campaign will help bring more women closer to feeling truly comfortable in their skin, so that they will be able to really reclaim the joy in their lives."
In order to alleviate doubt about their appearance and #OwnIt, the research results indicate Australian women turn to the following:
Doing physical activity/getting fitter (88 per cent)
Eating something healthy (85 per cent)
Being surrounded by friends and family (85 per cent)
'Despite there being tactics to alleviate doubt, our study of over 1,000 women has shown that 7 out of 10 women have an -I hate my body' moment every single week. That's way too many," says Kellogg's Australia Marketing Director, Tamara Howe. 'The new #OwnIt campaign aims to counter that negativity. While we may not be able to eliminate self-doubt for women, we can be her ally in the fight against it, by exposing how widespread it is and becoming an advocate for body confidence and inner strength. When Australian women are able to take control of self-doubt, they are stronger, more confident and ultimately empowered."
In partnership with Body Positive Australia, Special K will be running a series of Ditch the Doubt workshops throughout 2016 to support women with their #OwnIt journeys and find their inner strength. More information about these will be published on Special K's Facebook page. Join the conversation on Instagram @specialkaustralia using the hashtag #OwnIt, and check out www.specialk.com.au/ and www.facebook.com/SpecialKAustralia.
Question: What did you find surprising about the Special K #OwnIt Body Confidence Survey?
Sarah Harry: Interestingly enough, the only thing I found surprising from the Special K #OwnIt Body Confidence Survey was that the figures weren't higher. In other similar research we have seen even greater number of women struggling with poor body image, which is really sad.
Question: Can you talk us through how you are supporting the Special K #OwnIt campaign?
Sarah Harry: We have been supporting the #OwnIt campaign in many ways this year. We have been running workshops, giving interviews, creating videos and being active on social media. We also did a thorough review of the research Special K Australia conducted, and consulted on the early stages of the campaign, before the launch date. It's been amazing to be involved in so many exciting ways to help women feel more comfortable in their own bodies.
Question: What is Health at Every Size and Body Positive Australia?
Sarah Harry: Body Positive Australia was started by Fiona Sutherland and myself 12 years ago. It has grown from a small group program to include everything from retreats to individual and group therapies. We offer support and treatment to people struggling with their body image and clinical eating disorders, education, consultation and retreats. We are a mindfulness based organisation, using the principles of HAES and the Non Diet Approach.
Health at Every Size® or HAES is a movement which that people to be at peace in their bodies (regardless of size) and encourages a compassionate and holistic view of health. I often refer to the publication, Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Leave out, Get Wrong and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, by Linda Bacon, PhD., and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD. This book outlines that HAES includes the following basic components:
Respect, including respect for body diversity
Eating in a flexible and attuned manner that values pleasure and honours internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite
Finding the joy in moving one's body and being physically active.
Challenges scientific and cultural assumptions
Values body knowledge and people's lived experiences
Question: What originally inspired your passion for body image?
Sarah Harry: I have always been interested in body image as I have personally struggled with it since I was very young and after I recovered from an eating disorder and my body image was healed I decided to go on to help others.
Question: What are your top tips for our readers in regards to learning to love ourselves?
Sarah Harry: I would say that there are some very practical things you can do to get started feeling better about your body; starting with a media diet! You may also like to read these top tips on our website.
Make sure that your social media feed isn't making you feel bad about yourself. Instead, start to follow people and organisations that empower you to be comfortable and not compare yourself or your body to an unrealistic ideal of beauty.
Question: What are the first steps to take, if we want to make an overall change on the perspective we have on our bodies?
Sarah Harry: First question the idea that you need to have a certain kind of body to be your best self or to do the things you would like to in your life. In the #OwnIt research we saw that women are putting off all kinds of amazing things like swimming or going to parties because of their bodies. My perspective is; don't wait! Life happens now; swim, buy lovely clothes, move your body for joy and live life.
Question: Is there a specific movement you do daily to keep your self-love strong?
Sarah Harry: I am also a yoga teacher so I will do some kind of yoga every day. But I also have two young kids, so I am not hard on myself; some days it's five minutes! Yoga keeps me more embodied and calm. I approach movement as -joyful' rather than any kind of punishment.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Sarah Harry: I have two rowdy boys so I get up really early most days and have a coffee before all the chaos of the getting everyone out of the house and to school. Then I either see individual clients or hit the computer to catch up on email. A few times a week I teach a yoga class or speak to groups about body image. I am so lucky, every day is different. I work in a number of different settings which keeps every day fresh and interesting. Then it's back to school for the after school routine. Early to bed for me!
Question: What do you hope to achieve through the Ditch the Doubt workshops?
Sarah Harry: My aim is to guide people though a yoga practice that is gentle and gets them in touch with their bodies as their home in a compassionate way. After that I'm lucky enough to get to talk to everyone about my thoughts and tips for being more comfortable in their bodies. I always think that if I touch one person and get them to think a little differently then it's been a successful workshop.
Question: And what are your hopes for Body Positive Australia, this year?
Sarah Harry: This year and next we hope to run even more retreats and -Food Peace/Body Peace' events. We just want to reach as many people as we can to help them feel better about their bodies and their relationship with food. Personally, I want to do a TED talk!
Interview by Brooke Hunter