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People and attitudes towards the body across countries

A healthy lifestyle means something different to each person and can be linked to many influences in our lives. Habits like what time you eat your dinner at, are often linked to your cultural environment and impacted by the place that you live in. A new study reveals health ideals and how we view our bodies can be categorized in three different ways, varying around the world. 

The online survey created by Havas Worlwide, explored the attitudes of people aged 18+ in 28 different countries towards body image and health. Whether you believe nature or nurture to be more influential on our behaviours and how we view ourselves, there are similarities seen in these attitudes across different countries. People reported the role of their body in their happiness which could be a source of ‘pleasure’ or ‘pride and power’. One part of this study, revealed people view their bodies as serving different purposes and categorized their attitudes as pleasure seekers, holistic enthusiasts and functionalists.

Pleasure seekers

Present in Brazil, Spain and France, this attitude places value on the body as the way to experience enjoyment. Such countries are known for their sensuality and self celebration where a passion for dancing or finer cuisine is typical. The research suggests people with the ‘pleasure seeker’ attitude also highly value physical attractiveness. Which may not be so surprising as the Brazilian cosmetic industry is known around the world for enhancing one asset in particular, in order to look good in a bikini. The results of this survey also found “40 percent of Brazilians said cosmetic surgery is a “smart choice” for people who want to be more attractive”.

Holistic enthusiasts

This attitude encourages nurturing all aspects of the body and its natural rhythms as they are interconnected. You are more likely to find people with this attitude in China, India or Germany, where most people reported they believe in ageing naturally rather than having cosmetic surgery. The holistic attitude goes hand in hand with the practices and mindsets of a lifestyle which includes yoga and meditation. Sleep, a balanced diet and experiencing the outdoors are important priorities in the efforts to achieve optimum health.

Functionalists

Exactly what it sounds like, the body is viewed as something which must be functional, like a machine. People from the USA, UK and Australia where people value working hard in order to reach their full potential.The functionalist attitude towards health is supported by this value as people want the maximum results from their efforts and work out in order to reach their peak fitness.

Ideal and attitude doesn’t mean reality.

You might not want to be too quick to jump to describe yourself has having one attitude over another because the study highlights that the ‘attitudes’ towards body image and health might not actually translate into real life as much as people want it to. You might believe that being healthy means being at your peak, but that doesn’t mean you instinctively live your lifestyle in line with the ideal. If that was the case, anyone who falls into functionalist category would perform like an olympic athlete. However, functionalists are more likely to be found in three countries which have some of the world’s highest obesity rates. This suggests that what the healthy ideal is and how to achieve it might be linked to the country that you live in, it doesn’t mean that people live according to that lifestyle.

Body image satisfaction.

The great news? Overall, the study found that people generally have a positive relationship with their body across the 28 countries. People reported that dissatisfaction with body image was an impact from the beauty ideals that are presented through the media highlights something called ‘beauty fatigue’. The presence of women other than super tiny bikini models in advertising may be over praised, but recognition that people are tired of seeing overly airbrushed, photoshopped and therefore edited representations of women in adverts, could hopefully encourage more brands to change their campaigns!

A current trend in fashion and media is the need to make a song and dance about featuring ‘plus size’ models, such as the Sports Illustrated cover and advert. Check out our take on the campaign and the excess noise that went with it here

 

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