INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new study says women are happier with their bodies than ever before. Despite rising obesity levels, researchers found a positive trend for women’s self-esteem and acceptance of their bodies.
Researchers at the College of Wooster in Ohio took a comprehensive look at more than 250 studies over the last 30 years. It involved more than 100,000 women and men. While women are still less happy with how they look than men, experts say we’re moving in the right direction.
Franklin photographer Cindy Johnson dedicates her entire career to making women feel beautiful.
“This is it. This is what I want to do with my life, I want to make people feel like that,” Johnson said.
She does boudoir photography, which is nude or nearly nude pictures usually intended for private viewing only, like a wedding or anniversary gift. Recently, she did something different.
“No one knew that they were getting into. I just said ‘you’re going to come do a shoot and you’re going to feel vulnerable. Who’s up for it?'” Johnson said.
19 women opened up about their insecurities by writing them on their bodies.
“Then they all washed them off together and washed them off each other,” Johnson said.
The women then replaced the writing with positive posts.
Johnson hopes it’s projects like this that are changing women’s perspectives on their appearance.
“Beauty is not, this is beauty. We all have to fit in this. There’s all kinds of beauty. There’s not a beauty that’s better than others, it’s just different.,” Johnson said.
And researchers in Ohio say more and more women are believing that’s true. Results show body acceptance is at an all time high since 1981.
“I think women are starting to understand and recognize that fat shaming, talking negatively about your body, is not actually helpful,” Indiana University Health psychologist Dr. Anne Lewis said.
Lewis works solely with eating disorder patients at IU Health.
“I see it where this totally could mean that we’re in a good trend, as well as indicate that there are some things we need to address,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that’s because some women may be happier, because it’s easier than ever to change what we don’t like about our bodies.
“They’re not having to live with things they dislike, because they can go to a plastic surgeon and have my nose taken care of and it doesn’t cost that much money or I can have a tummy tuck or other things,” Lewis said.
Researchers say women may feel some power in numbers though. Americans are larger than they’ve ever been, so some may feel more normal and less concerned about their body. Also, an increase in plus-size models may be affecting women’s attitudes, according to the study.
Johnson hopes whatever the reason for the change, it helps women live a happy, healthy life.
“It’s not like, this is my body, I don’t want to change it. You can be accepting and love your body and still be on a journey to change it. I think it’s actually easier to change your body from a place of loving it, than from a place of hating it,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s Empowered Women shoot video has been viewed nearly 50,000 times since she posted it on August 9, 2016.