For a lot of people, learning to love their body is a lifelong journey – and we really mean life long. While we don’t necessarily associate our childhood years with thinking about how our bodies look and how they compare to others, it turns out body image issues develop pretty young. That could be because were told from a young age that our bodies are somehow not good enough. According to a new survey from Refinery 29, 65% of girls receive the first critique of their body before they turn 14.
As part of their Take Back the Beach series, a body-positive summer series, Refinery29 polled 1,000 readers to find out how they really feel about both other peoples’ and their own bodies. While the good news is half of the readers said they love their bodies, some other statistics in the survey show that may not have always been the case.
The survey found 65% of women heard the first critique about their body before age 14, and 41% said that comment was made between ages 10 and 13. This means that, from a young age, we’re told that our bodies aren’t perfect how they are.
“People have been commenting on my body for as long as I can remember,” one reader told Refinery29. “It’s sad, but it’s like the weather – sometimes people just don’t know what else to talk about.”
The reader is right, this is sad because it’s no one’s place to comment on another person’s body. And Refinery29‘s survey shows those comments have an effect. Even though half of readers have become more confident about their bodies over time, 74% go to the beach less frequently because of body image issues, 39% avoid store fitting rooms, and 38% have sex less frequently. But instead of letting other peoples’ comments shape how we view our bodies, Refinery29 is challenging everyone to Take Back the Beach this summer by feeling strong and confident about our bodies. This summer, let’s not think about the critiques or insecurities, let’s focus on having fun, feeling good and being our best beach-side selves.
See the full results of the survey here.
Related: The ONLY ‘Beach Body’ Inspiration You’ll Need This Summer