How Women Really Feel about Their Bodies in 2021
Although we’ve made major progress around inclusivity and body positivity, a recent survey we conducted asking a range of women from all over the world how they feel about themselves proved we still have some work to do…
Determined to find out more, we asked a series of challenging questions ranging from how we really feel and think about ourselves when it comes to body image and self-care, to feminine health and pleasure. The results were more surprising–and complicated–than we could’ve imagined.
How we feel about our bodies and self-image needs improvement
When asked if our self-worth is determined by how our body looks, 77.5% of us reported that our body does have an influence on our sense of self-worth.
This is a startling realization. Even though we’ve seen a push in women’s fashion and beauty brands promoting body diversity, it seems that decades of the opposite type of images and messaging has already made its imprint. Now, the real work lies in unlearning harmful beliefs and encouraging self-acceptance and self-love.
Another alarming finding is that a staggering 95.6% of us admitted we would like to change or improve parts of our body. This may not be entirely negative if we’re looking at improvement from a health perspective. However, we’re in the peak of the digital age, which means comparison has never been more accessible. It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to lay all the blame on social media, however with the introduction of filters and the desire to fill our feed with perfect images, the pressure to fix our “flaws” is at an all-time high. Dubbed “Snapchat dysmorphia”, in 2018 a London cosmetic doctor revealed that patients who once asked to look like celebrities were now asking to look like their own edited selfies. This further emphasizes unrealistic perfection, a trap most of us may fall into when deciding what we should or shouldn’t post on our social media accounts.
What we should aim for is a healthy balance of bettering ourselves for the sake of our physical and mental health and complete self-acceptance exactly as we are. As Marilyn Monroe said, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Do we really want to be part of the identikit generation?
“The unfortunate truth is that almost 89% of us reported that we wished we felt more confident about our bodies.”
Although most of us may feel alone in our insecurities around how we feel in our own skin, the unfortunate truth is that 89% of us reported that we wished we felt more confident about our bodies. One of the small but useful tips we can use to build more confidence is paying close attention to how we speak to ourselves. If your self-talk is mostly negative then ask yourself “is this how I would talk to my best friend? Then why am I speaking to myself like this?”
We can all agree self-care is necessary
On a more positive note, it’s reassuring that 97% of us believe it’s OK to prioritize self-care. Self-care could mean anything that you want that makes you feel good, brings you peace, and helps you reset and relieve stress. That could be anything from getting your daily workout in, to meditating, spending time in nature, or going to dinner with a friend. Although only 64% admit to practicing self-care daily, we can strive to incorporate small practices into our routine.
With that said, we’re still working on putting our needs before the needs of others. 42% of women still struggle with putting their needs first. This could be for many reasons, especially if you’re a mom, or caretaker. We have to start believing that we can only show up as our best selves for those we love if we take care of ourselves first. Pandemic or not, the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves will help lift our spirits and confidence and project that positivity to those around us. Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Stressful jobs, a hectic home life, binging on Netflix and being surgically attached to our phones can make it difficult to carve healthy time out for ourselves. Me-time is usually the last thing on our minds, but as mentioned earlier, self-care can take many forms, and it’s important to make it a practice enjoyable to you. It’s learning how to tune into ourselves and understanding how to move through our daily lives in a way that will boost our well-being.
Tip: Start with one small act of self-care a day that you can manage, even if it’s just taking time out to breathe deeply for 2 to 5 minutes when the day gets too much.
Now that we know how we generally feel in terms of our body image, self-esteem and self-care habits and what we need to improve upon to build self-love and confidence, we also found it extremely important to ask women about their feminine and sexual wellness.
What do we know about our feminine health and wellness?
We won’t know what’s going on down there, unless we actually look.
Being truly confident with our body comes from understanding it better – inside and out (literally and figuratively). While an impressive 83% of us knew that the outer part of the female genitalia is called the vulva, and not the vagina, only 47% knew that not all women have a hymen. The best way to start feeling more confident, comfortable, and aware about our intimate parts is by looking at them–so don’t be shy, get out those hand mirrors girls. Even though only 49% said we feel comfortable in doing so, it’s vital to understand that studying our bits in front of a mirror can help us spot any irregularities such as new moles, painful or bloody lesions, blisters, or thick discharge. In addition to your mandatory annual exam with your OB/GYN, a vaginal self-exam will help us get acquainted with our body so we recognize when something looks off, and when we need to visit a gynecologist.
“20% of us have never had a gynecological exam, including a pap smear.”
This leads us to our next finding–20% of us have never had a gynecological exam, including a pap smear. Seeing a gynecologist is a crucial step in our overall feminine health, not just our sexual well-being. Many illnesses and irregularities in the female body can stem from our reproductive, menstrual, and hormonal health, which is why it’s not enough to only see your regular General Practitioner regardless of your sexual activity. And with 75% of us agreeing that our feminine health overall needs more attention, a great place to start is by simply seeing a gyno. When it comes to health problems, early detection is critical, so regular visits with an OB/GYN need to be part of every woman’s self-care routine.
Moving on to our sexual well-being…
“If our partner doesn’t know our likes and dislikes, we will always feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled.”
Of course, a deeper appreciation of our bodies will lead to greater self-confidence, and in turn (much) better sex. A whopping 68% of us admitted to having faked an orgasm, and with 55% also claiming to feel too awkward or embarrassed to open up about our needs in the bedroom. With the stigmas around female pleasure still alive and well in certain parts of the world, we can clearly see where the problem begins.
There’s no doubt we know what we want when it comes to pleasure–79% of us masturbate, and 60% admit to using a sex toy–the next step is finding our voice in the bedroom. If our partner doesn’t know our likes and dislikes, we will always feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled. This could ultimately negatively impact the relationship as a whole. With 87% of us wanting to feel more sexually empowered, this is where it starts. By being more open and honest about our needs, we begin to build our comfort, confidence and sense of empowerment which will lead us to a more satisfying sex life.
What we learned…
So, what did we learn about ourselves in all of this? Overall, we discovered that there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to loving ourselves more, having the confidence to speak up about our desires and understanding our bodies–inside and out. At KETISH, our purpose is to empower and guide women through all of their feminine journeys–no matter what junction they find themselves at. Our biggest hope is that in the years to come, we’ll have done our part to help change these poll results for the better. We’re here to replace shame and stigma with sensuality and self-love by creating a safe space for women, by women. We believe that with knowledge comes confidence, and with confidence comes self-love, the sincerest form of wellness.