A recent survey of 2,000 women in the UK found that those who were a size 16 (which is the same as a US size 14) are the happiest. Does that surprise you?
Our culture places such asinine emphasis on weight and correlates a woman's weight with her worth. As such I'll confess I was totally surprised that women who are a size 14, which most would consider to be average weight, were happier than their 'thin ideal' counterparts. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized I wasn't surprised by those findings.
Here are some other highlights of the research:
- 74% of size 14 women were happy with their appearance - nearly twice as many as those who are size 4 (42%)
- 59% of size 4-8 women said they are happy with their appearance.
- 52% of size 4 women would like to be curvier
When I was morbidly obese (yes, technically I was with a BMI of 31) I remember every year my New Years Resolution was to lose weight. I'd tell myself that this year was going to be the year that I'd get skinny and be able to wear a bathing suit and go to the beach without hating how I look. Imagine living 10 minutes from the beach and never going because you are so self-conscious. It was ludicrous! Years passed before I finally hit my goal weight and you know what - I wasn't any happier than I had been before. I think people have all the expectations about what life will be like when they finally lose weight and while parts of it are obviously amazing (my confidence increased and I loved people telling me how great I looked!) my actual satisfaction with life stayed about the same.
I wrote about this experience for one of my first articles for MindBodyGreen. The article discussed 3 Surprising Effects of Major Weight Loss and one of those effects was increased body dissatisfaction.
This was the hardest struggle for me. When I was overweight I saw myself as precisely that, overweight. I didn’t particularly hate my arms or my thighs I was just heavy all over. Once I started losing the weight I suddenly became hyperaware of all of the ‘problem’ areas. My legs and arms started showing definition but my stomach was sluggishly playing catch-up in my body’s fitness race. My self-esteem actually dropped some after the initial high of weight-loss subsided and I was left overanalyzing everything left I needed to ‘fix’. I also had to come to terms with some of the things I’ll never be able to fix (hello stretch marks!).
[Tweet "Study: Size 14 Women are the Happiest. How my self-esteem dropped after losing weight. "]
Obviously this experience isn't the same for every person who loses weight. It was just something I wasn't expecting. It's like when people imagine winning the lottery and the rest of their lives would just be amazing and perfect and happy. Well, research finds that the happiness levels of people who become paralyzed in an accident or win the lottery return to their pre-life changing event levels within a year!
I'm definitely happier now then I was at a size 16, but it has very little to do with weight. I love my family, I have the best job/s in the world, and Salem only attacks me once a week now instead of daily. Once John Stamos realizes we are destined to be together my life will be pretty much complete.
Have you ever thought something was going to make you much happier than it actually did? Do you think weight correlates with your happiness?