A study published in the journal Body Image has revealed that both men and women are happiest with their bodies after the age of 60.
Satisfaction with size, shape and appearance gradually increases as people age, with our latter years characterised by the highest levels of self-assurance, according to data from more than 15,000 people.
While women aged between 19 and 24 were prone to being unhappy with their bodies, they were much more content with how they looked when they reached 60, the research showed.
Similarly, men suffered a dip in self-confidence between 29 and 34 years old, and between 44 and 49. But their self-esteem began to rise as they approached their 60th birthday and continued to increase afterwards.
“These results are also consistent with theoretical work suggesting that women place less importance on evaluating the appearance of their bodies as they age and that older adults may value body function over body appearance,” the study said.
“It is possible that such body-related perceptual shifts may gradually occur across the female lifespan, and in turn buffer against the impact of the damaging thin and youthful ideals upheld within Western cultures to enable enhanced body image as women age. The current study supports the idea that the pressures women face may lessen over time.
“Similarly, to their female peers, ageing men may value body functionality over body appearance, which in turn may buffer against appearance dissatisfaction.”
An increase in body confidence was more dramatic among women as they aged, whereas men tended to have a more positive overall attitude towards their bodies which gradually improved in their later years.
This ran contrary to the researcher’s prediction that “body dissatisfaction is relatively stable across the female lifespan”.