78% of Gen Z Feel Pressured to Get ‘Summer Body Ready’

·2-min read
Photo credit: Motortion - Getty Images
Photo credit: Motortion - Getty Images

After 18 months of restrictions and multiple lockdowns, many Brits are (understandably) experiencing trepidation about the relaxing of England's pandemic-related constraints amid skyrocketing COVID-19 cases. However, it's not the only concern gnawing at the minds of the nation as our everyday lives start to become increasingly more social.

A survey of 2000 UK adults conducted by OnePoll found that 78% of Gen Z feel pressured to be 'summer body ready', while 26% said they're made to feel anxious about the way their bodies 'should' look.

It's not just those under the age of 25 who are feeling self-conscious, either – 41% of Brits across all age brackets said they feel pressure to get into shape, with 28% citing the portrayal of bodies in popular culture as the main reason.

While conversation around the concept of a "summer body" is certainly nothing new in 2021, the physical isolation and change in routines caused by the pandemic – not to mention months of staring at your own face for hours on Zoom – has only compounded any existing insecurities. Calls to Beat, the UK eating-disorder charity, were up by 149% in May this year compared to pre-pandemic levels, Inews reported. (continued below)

"Our screen time increased, meaning that we were more likely to be exposed to thin or athletic ideals through the media, while decreased physical activity may have heightened negative thoughts about weight or shape," said Viren Swami, professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University and lead author of a study that explored the link between pandemic anxiety and body image, speaking last year.

"At the same time, it is possible that the additional anxiety and stress caused by COVID-19 may have diminished the coping mechanisms we typically use to help manage negative thoughts," he added.

Swami's research, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, found that anxiety and stress linked to COVID-19 were associated with negative body image, specifically concerns about body fat and "a desire for muscularity" in men.

"Given that masculinity typically emphasises the value of toughness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of status, COVID-19-related stress and anxiety may be leading men to place greater value on the importance of being muscular," he said.

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