YouGov Body Image Study 2021: How Americans are feeling about their body image

Jamie BallardData Journalist
May 26, 2021, 5:15 PM UTC

A person’s relationship to their own body (and their partner’s body) can be complicated. Ideas about what an ideal body should look like can be influenced by a number of sources, from the media to the fashion industry to social media conversations.  

YouGov has conducted a comprehensive study examining how Americans feel about their own bodies, their romantic partner’s body and looks, personal grooming habits, and the media’s influence on body image in 2021.  

We have divided the study into the following parts:   

Part One: How Americans feel about their bodies  

Part Two: Americans believe the media and fashion industries are impacting body image 

Part Three: How Americans feel about their romantic partner’s looks 

Part Four: When it comes to personal grooming, what looks do Americans prefer? 

The study was conducted between April 26 - 27, 2021 on a nationally representative sample of 1,302 people in the US ages 16 and older.  

Here are the top 10 insights which show how the American public feels about their body image:  

  • About half (51%) of Americans say they feel pressured to have a certain body type.  

  • Women (60%) are 18 percentage points more likely than men (42%) to say they feel completely or somewhat pressured to have a particular body type. 

  • 76% of Americans believe that women are under more pressure than men are to have a certain body type 

  • About one quarter (24%) believe themselves to be more attractive than the average person, and just as many (24%) say they are less attractive than average 

  • Most Americans (62%) who have ever been in a relationship say they worry about what their partner thinks of how they look 

  • Women (59%) who have had sexual relationships are much more likely than men (38%) who have had sexual relationships to say they think about how their body looks during sex. 

  • Three-quarters of US adults (76%) say that the media promotes an unattainable body image for women 

  • 69% of Americans believe fashion companies have had a negative impact on the perception of body image  

  • Among those who are familiar with the body positivity movement, 58% view it as a good thing for society 

  • Women (63%) are more than 10 times as likely as men (6%) to say they prefer that their romantic partner be taller than they are 
     

Image: Gender Spectrum Collection

 

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