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Are You Satisfied with Your Body

Posted 11/2/2013

Posted in

  Let's get this out of the way first: yes, I know there should be a question mark in the title of this blog, but the system won't accept a title with anything other than words.

  With thanks to Barbara for this (and so much else), I have been fascinated by this study from the Journal of Women and Aging.  It suggests that only 12% of women over 50 are satisfied with their bodies. Mind you, this is not women who have had breast cancer; it is women in general. The unhappiness, as you would guess, seems primarily to be around weight gain and body shape--and then particular discontent with one's face or stomach or skin.

  The study also found some strong common feelings among those women who do feel okay about their bodies. 88% of them were in the normal weight range and they all worked hard to stay that way. Their weight maintenance is primarily driven by exercise, less by diet. This makes sense to me as it, at least, parallels my own experience. I do get to the gym almost every day, include the standard suggestions of taking the stairs when feasible, parking a bit further from my destination, etc. in my habits, and add long walks with the dog on the weekends. I surely pay attention to what I eat, but I don't pass up much that I want. I know I am lucky that I don't crave sweets, but my salt addiction is best satisfied by potato chips so that can be dangerous.

  Here is what I am really thinking about and would appreciate your thoughts and comments. Do I think, do you think, that a study of women who had been treated for breast cancer would have the same results? Are we more or less satisified with our physical selves? Surely most of us have gained some weight and many of us have bodies (breasts specifically, or the lack thereof) that have been changed by treatment. I suspect that our bodies actually, to a neutral observer, might be further from our society's ridiculous ideal than others. But I also suspect that we have a perspective of health and what is important in life--which generally does not include one's waist measurement.

  I give you the start and then a link to read more:

Just 12 Percent of Women Over 50 Are 'Satisfied' With Their Bodies
Study finds that those who feel comfortable with their weight exercise often but rarely diet to stay thin

TUESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Be it muffin tops, saddlebags, chicken wings or thunder thighs, there's a lot that most women can find to dislike about their bodies.

A recent survey of 1,700 women over age 50 found that a paltry 12 percent said they were satisfied with their size and shape. So researchers wondered what these rare women who actually feel OK with their bodies might have in common. The new study was published online recently in the Journal of Women & Aging.

For starters, most of them, 88 percent, were in the normal weight range. Their average body-mass index (BMI) was 21.4, compared with a BMI of 28.3 for women who reported dissatisfaction. (BMI is a measurement of body fat that takes height and weight into account.) And they were more likely to have been slender over the course of their lives than women who said they didn't like how they looked.



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  • Patricia Hogan said:
    11/2/2013 5:02 PM

    Based solely on my own experience and that of many friends who have had breast cancer, I would wager that the level of acceptance of one's body post-treatment may be significantly correlated with the acceptance of one's partner. When I was diagnosed and I asked my husband how he would react to breast scars or removal, he said: "I love your breast, but I love you much more". And from that moment on, I didn't worry about scars, although there are many.