TORONTO — When Canadians look in the mirror, only 11 per cent are completely satisfied with what they see, according to a new global survey.
The findings, put out by market research company GfK, are based on interviews that were conducted last summer across 22 countries with more than 27,000 people aged 15 and older.
Among the global highlights:
- Latin Americans are most satisfied with their looks (thanks to high rankings in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina).
- The Japanese are most critical of their looks, followed by the British, then Russians, South Koreans, Swedes and Australians.
Not surprisingly, men have a more positive view of their looks than their female counterparts. In Canada, 13 per cent of males say they are completely satisfied with their looks, compared to nine per cent of females.
At the other end of the scale, five per cent of Canadian females say they are “not at all satisfied” with their appearance, compared to two per cent of Canadian men.
Sarah Maria, a body image expert and author of the book Love Your Body, Love Your Life, is surprised by the findings.
“Based on my experience, I wouldn’t have guessed it,” she said.
“My experience is, for women, probably 90 per cent of women are mostly not satisfied [with their looks].”
She agrees that media is partly to blame for that, but so is the fact that many people these days struggle to have a healthy diet.
“We live in a time where there is a lot of unhealthy food, a lot of sugar consumption. So people have a lot of issues with cravings, then end up feeling not so good about how they look.”
There is some good news, though. Maria believes teens today feel better about themselves than a generation ago. The study’s findings backed that up. In Canada, 19 per cent of those aged 15 to 10 said they are completely satisfied with their looks and another 37 per cent reported they are fairly satisfied.
Maria credits that to greater awareness and discussion happening in our society, with more parents educating their kids about positive body image.
Unfortunately, nine per cent of Canadian teens are not at all satisfied with their looks, which is much higher than the global average of three per cent.
Maria says it all comes down to self-acceptance, but the range of what that means and what’s required to fix it can vary widely — from psychological therapy (in cases like eating disorders) to focusing on features you like about yourself when you look in the mirror.
Another silver lining? Things get better with age. Canadians aged 60 and over are generally happy with their looks.