Cristin Runfola, who led the study, said that the fact that so few women are satisfied with their body size is concerning, but they were interested in how some women remain happy with their size and shape, given ubiquitous social pressures to retain a youthful thin appearance, and the influence of a multibillion dollar anti-aging cosmetics industry.
The researchers used a sample of 1,789 women in the United States aged 50 years and older from the Gender and Body Image (GABI) study and found that defined as having a current body size equal to their preferred size, body satisfaction was endorsed by only 12.2 percent of women ages 50 and older and was associated with better overall functioning.
Satisfied women had a lower body mass index, and reported fewer eating disorder symptoms and dieting behaviours.
Interestingly, even though these women were content with their body size, a sizeable number still reported dissatisfaction with other aspects of their appearance, including their stomach (56.2 percent), face (53.8 percent), and skin (78.8 percent).
Further, weight monitoring and appearance-altering behaviors (such as cosmetic surgery) did not differ between satisfied and dissatisfied groups, and weight and shape still played a considerable role in body size satisfied women's self-evaluation.
The study is published in the Journal of Women and Aging.