We need to turn this around.
This Plus-Size Model’s Raw Words About Body Image Are Gutting
Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Over the past couple of years body positivity, diversity, and acceptance have gotten a lot of press, which likely leads most of us to believe that the tide has been changing in terms of how we, as women, feel about ourselves. But a new study reveals that women's body confidence is actually declining, and that raises a lot of red flags.

According to the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, which interviewed 10,500 women from 13 different countries, 85 percent of all women and 79 percent of girls admitted they actually choose not to participate in important life activities when they don't feel great about their appearance. Nine out of 10 women say they will actually stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk when they feel poorly about their body image.

So why is it that even though the conversation about body image has become more open women are still feeling so lousy abou themselves?

"This latest research shows that low body confidence is a global issue," said Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Assistant Clinical Professor Harvard Medical School, Director of Program in Aesthetics and Wellbeing, MGH Department of Psychiatry, in a statement connected to the study. "Though troubling, these results are also unsurprising, given the increasing pressures women and girls face today. We need to help empower women and girls in many ways, including increasing body-confidence education, driving meaningful conversations around the pressures women and girls face, and advocating for change in how females and their appearance are talked about and portrayed in the media."

The study found that 71 percent of women and 67 percent of girls think the media needs to do a better job portraying women of diverse physical appearance, age, race, shape, and size. And they're right. While a host of brands, like Dove, have been challengng unrealistic beauty ideals in their advertising, overwhelmingly we see the same body types in the media, and it's not one that many of us can relate to.

To put a silver lining on the research, at least we're continuing the conversation and putting pressure on brands and media to do better in terms of representing everybody, not just one, unattainable figure. It may be a slow climb to see the positive change we want, but we're headed in the right direction.