Which U.S. cities are struggling most with body image in 2022?

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Our relationship with our body goes beyond how it feels and functions. The way we feel about how our body looks is also important when it comes to feeling happy, healthy, and fulfilled.

How we feel about the way we look is referred to as ‘body image’ and is also defined as ‘how an individual sees their own body and how attractive they feel themselves to be.’

The goal for most of us is to love how our body looks, but it's easier said than done. At Within Health, we wanted to know which metro cities in the U.S. are struggling the most with unhealthy body image. We also surveyed over 1,000 Americans about how they feel about their body and how it looks.

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In this article
Unhealthy Body Image

While many Americans are struggling with a healthy body image, it's clear that one state in particular is struggling more than others. Florida cities Orlando, Miami, and Tampa are all in the top five metro cities struggling most with body image.

Other cities that are struggling with body image include Cleveland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Sacramento, Baltimore, Boston, and Portland.

The cities that have the healthiest body image are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix. Many things can contribute to a healthy body image, so while on your journey, remember to be patient with yourself and practice radical self love. Another option is to get to a place of body neutrality. Regardless of how you feel about your appearance, you are enough and worthy of treating yourself with love and compassion.

America's feelings about body image in 2022

It's important to remember that body image can change over time, and that the COVID-19 pandemic could have had a detrimental impact for many Americans.

Following a tumultuous few years of staying home, moving less, and prolonged stress, it's no wonder that just over one third (35%) of Americans say they currently have negative body image. 38% say they have a neutral body image at the moment, and 27% have a positive body image.

Although many of those surveyed say they have a neutral or positive body image, it hasn't always been this way. 82% of survey respondents say they've experienced negative body image in the past. This was split almost evenly among all genders, with 53% of those being women, and 43% being men.

Of those who've had negative body image, 5% have been diagnosed with an eating disorder in the past. 21% say they have experienced disordered eating, but not officially been diagnosed with any kind of eating disorder.

Even if you don't feel great about how you look right now, there are ways to combat unhealthy body image. The top way Americans are fighting it is learning to accept how they look (49%).

That's followed by wearing clothes that fit well and look good (44%), living a lifestyle that makes them feel happy and strong (40%), and cutting down on comparing themselves to others (35%).

Other ways Americans are combating an unhealthy body image is by learning to love themselves (35%), appreciating their body for what it does for them (28%), engaging in positive self-talk (21%), cutting down on mirror checking (21%), doing something nice for themselves (19%), and spending time with positive and supportive people (16%).

When asked what they believe causes their unhealthy body image, just over half (52%) of Americans say it's bad self-esteem. Other causes include comparing themselves to others (48%), societal norms (44%), social media (41%), and television and movies (32%).

So next time you are feeling down about how you look, know that you're not alone. If you feel like you are experiencing symptoms of disordered eating, reach out for help. Healthy body image takes practice and work, but it's so worth it.

Methodology

We analyzed more than 112 Google search terms related to body image to complete this study. We looked at city-level search volume from June 2021 until June 2022. Total search volume during this period was then calculated per capita and visualized per 100,000.

In July 2022, we surveyed 1,004 Americans to ask about their opinions on body image. Respondents were 49% male, 48% female, and 3% transgender/non-binary. Respondents' ages ranged from 18 to 93, with an average age of 37.

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected]

Fair Use

When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing https://withinhealth.com/

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

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