More than ever the pressure is on to be thin and beautiful. But now a new study claims that supportive families can help combat social pressures which cause women to live up to unrealistic ideals.
Findings showed that levels of emotional support affected the way participants viewed their bodies.
Those with a strong network of family and friends demonstrated a more positive outlook and were better equipped to deal with stressful situations.
Lead researcher Shannon Snapp of the University of Arizona said: ‘It is particularly important for women to develop a sense of self-worth that is not solely based on appearance, and to build resilience to pressures they may receive from family, friends and the media.’
Researchers gave 301 first-year university students questionnaires, focusing on young women who are likely to be self-conscious.
The outcomes suggested that family support and low levels of pressure to be thin are linked to the rejection of the ‘thin and beautiful’ ideal, positive views of physical appearance, and effective stress-busting strategies.
To help young people at risk of eating disorders and negative body image, the researchers suggest that prevention programs should include ways to make them become comfortable with the multiple, and often contradictory, expectations placed on them.
Past research has shown between 25 percent and 40 per cent of U.S. students experience negative body image and eating problems.
The NHS reports that around 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men will experience anorexia nervosa at some point, while bulimia is around five times more common.
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