BODY IMAGE. WHAT’S THEIR SECRET?
You want to talk about young women and body image?
Well here’s a real conversation starter!
What do the women who make up Australia’s multi-cultural mix have to teach each other about the increasing rates body anxiety our girls?
Is your ethnicity and culture liable to make you more or less prone to negative body image and eating disorders?
This thorny question has been raised today by Mission Australia.
They find that young women from Anglo, Greek, Italian and Spanish-speaking homes are the most worried about their bodies. Those from Asian and Arabic backgrounds are the least concerned.
The latest survey results from their 2011 Youth Survey are in:
“Young women from English-speaking and Southern European backgrounds are more concerned about body image than those from Asian and Arabic cultures, according to analysis of results from Mission Australia’s 2011 national youth survey.
Last year’s survey identified significant growth in concern around body image among young females with 42.5% ranking it as their major concern – a growth of more than 15% in two years.
Further analysis of the 2011 results showed a distinct difference in the level of body image concern between English and non-English speaking young women.
Of young women who speak English at home, 44.2% listed body image as one of their leading concerns compared to 34.7% in non-English speaking households.
However, on closer inspection, the true story is more complex with concern particularly acute among young women who speak Greek (44.6%), Italian (45.2%), English (42.5%) and Spanish (41.2%) at home, compared to Cantonese (33.8%), Arabic (33.7%), Chinese (31.5%), Vietnamese (30.6%), Mandarin (29.6%) and Filipino (29.8%).”
What is it that the girls who come from Asian and Arabic homes know about body image that others don’t?
Mission Australia’s National Manager of Research, Dr Bronwen Dalton, said the results raise the question – should we be tailoring campaigns and messages about body image to reflect the concerns of particular cultural or ethnic groups?
“Over the past three years, there has been a significant increase in concern about body image among young people taking part in the survey – particularly young women,” Dr Dalton said.
“We need to consider why body image ranks as a greater concern among certain cultural groups than it does others, and whether we need to develop different approaches for supporting and educating young women of different ethnic backgrounds?”
CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, Christine Morgan, added: “ It would appear that a greater exposure to images, popular culture and lifestyle choices by some young people is pushing them to adopt body image anxiety, and possibly putting them on a road to disordered eating.”
Is she saying that Australian culture is bad for our young women? That it causes anorexia, bulimia and the rest….
An ask around at the Hoopla office came up with the following questions…
Could it be that Asian parents place a greater emphasis on intellectual achievement? And that’s good for girls?
Could it be that Arabic families, with their cultural traditions on separating boys and girls, frees young women from body anxiety? And that’s good too?
Is it about diet? Family expectation? Or something else, entirely?
Is it that the prevailing “Western” culture in this country makes young women anxious about their appearance?
These are all intriguing questions. Over to you…