A survey of college women reveals some insights about self image and what women can do to lift each other up.
I conducted a small sample-sized survey of women aged 18-22 in college to find out some of their favorite and least favorite things about themselves. You'd be surprised to hear some of the responses, which show that women would like to be able to depend on each other more often.
1. College-Aged Women Value Their Compliments More When They Come From Women.
A total of 56% of respondents claimed that they value compliments more when they come from women. On the other hand, 26% of the respondents claimed they value compliments more when they come from men and 18% didn't have a preference. It's not to say that men shouldn't be complimenting women as often as they do, but women could definitely be complimenting each other more often.
2. They View Social Media As A Negative Source Of Body-Image Influence.
Nearly 80% of survey respondents claimed that they believed social media to be a negative influence on body image. This is important to consider in an age where we use social media every day. One way to eliminate the negative tone that social media can portray is by following fewer celebrities and influencers and focusing more on people who are important to you in your personal life.
3. They Make Comparisons.
This point relates back to the final point, that involves ways to combat negative self-image. A majority of the respondents (68%) claimed that they compare themselves to other women on a daily basis. In contrast, 26% said they did not and 6% weren't sure whether or not they did. This comparison is one of the highest causes of self-image anxiety in women, and can easily be prevented by focusing less on the things that separate you from someone else; choosing to value your unique attributes instead.
4. They Mostly Feel Better About Themselves In A College Environment.
Surprisingly, the college environment can be a positive influence on women's self-image. Of the women who answered the survey, 44% claimed that being in the college environment had a positive effect on body image, compared to 30% neutral and 26% negative. This may have to do with independence, or being around so many people of the same age.
5. They Rate Their Daily Self Confidence A 6, On Average.
One of the most surprising facts this survey uncovered was the average rating for the question "What is your daily self-confidence on a scale of 1-10?". If girls engaged in more supportive language and empowered each other more often, this number could be a lot higher.
6. Their Insecurities Are Often Very Similar And Superficial.
I was saddened to see that nearly all the respondents listed the one thing they could change about themselves as their stomach or to be skinnier, when being skinny was nobody's favorite thing about themselves. This should encourage girls to focus on goals that are less about body ideals and more about their ability to reach their potential. There are so many more ways to improve yourself that don't have to do with the way you look.
7. Their Favorite Quality About Themselves Is Most Likely About Their Personality.
Of the responses given to the question "What is your favorite quality about yourself?," only one third of the responses listed a physical trait, and a half of the physical traits listed were their eyes. College-aged women are proud of their optimism, charisma, tendency to work hard, confidence, honesty, and humor. This is all the more reason to get to know people before you judge them, as their best quality is certainly below surface level.
8. They Have Multiple Ways To Combat Negative Self-image.
Most women said their favorite way to combat against negative self-image is to focus on their characteristics which make them special and individual. Many also said that they would like to focus on personal growth through fitness and exercise.
Some favorite responses from the survey include the following self-assurances:
- "I tell myself that my body is for me to use to live my life, not for me to spend my life obsessing over."
- "I hang out with my friends. When I'm with them I don't think about it."
- "Try to remind myself that I am my biggest critic."
By using this advice and figuring out what works for you individually, you can work on bettering yourself while also finding ways to support other women in your community.
Now that you know just how much women would like to be able to depend on each other, you should be less afraid to tell a friend or even someone you don't know that you like their outfit or what your favorite things about them are. They may need it more than you think.