Today in news to make you sad, a study says a significant percentage of 10- and 11-year-old boys and girls are dissatisfied with their bodies — and that percentage is higher among kids who are overweight.
The study looked at fifth-graders, whom UPI.com calls "part of the age group increasingly known as tweens by those in media marketing" (you don't say!). 7.3% of girls and 7.8% of boys disagreed with the statement "I like the way I look." For girls, the higher their BMI, the more likely they were to be dissatisfied — 5.7% of "normal weight" girls disliked the way they look, compared to 10.4% of overweight girls and 13.1% of obese ones. Boys' body satisfaction was a little more complicated — boys with the lowest and highest BMI tended to feel more dissatisfied than those in the middle. Study author Bryn Austin says, "Poor body satisfaction among males with a low BMI may reflect the cultural ideal for males to attain both muscularity and leanness."
Interestingly, girls whose parents had low levels of education, and those who lived in rural areas, were more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies — even after researchers controlled for BMI. Austin speculates "that appearance-related pressures may be higher within rural areas, or perhaps that girls in urban areas benefit from existing programs that may protect against decrements in body satisfaction." This goes against the conventional notion of eating disorders and pressure to be thin as urban, middle- and upper-class problems, faced by white girls at prep schools and colleges. Given that urbanites sometimes subscribe to the stereotype that rural people are fat and eat poorly, it's possible that girls in rural areas feel extra pressure not to conform to this stereotype. Whatever the case, it's important to note that body dissatisfaction isn't just a problem for fashion-obsessed women in LA and New York. It hits young girls far from media hubs as well — and, it seems, it hits them harder.