According to a recent study, women spend an average of nearly 4 hours a day primping, while men spend 3.6 hours a day on average.
Attaining certain beauty standards requires time – a lot of it. People spend an average of one sixth of their lives on making themselves look good, according to a study conducted by a group of international researchers.
As subjective as it may be, looking attractive is everyone’s business, no matter one’s gender and whether it’s to boost self-confidence, please others, or to try to meet certain “societal” standards. And while some people may claim to spend only a few minutes primping each day, it is clear that the amount of time spent caring for or improving one’s physical appearance is actually much greater.
An international group of scientists set out to find out just how much time by analysing data from 93,158 people aged 18 to over 90, from 93 countries, focusing on specific behaviours such as body hygiene, use of makeup or other cosmetic products, hair care, clothing style, physical exercise, and diet.
These are all actions undertaken with the main purpose of improving one’s physical appearance – that is, not mainly for health reasons – and what they found may surprise you.
Mirror mirror on the wall…
Published in the journal “Evolution and Human Behavior”, this research reveals that 99% of participants spend at least 10 minutes a day on all types of activity aimed at improving their physical appearance.
But, in actuality, people spend much longer. According to the researchers, women spend an average of nearly four hours a day primping, while men spend 3.6 hours a day on average.
Not only does the study demonstrate that these behaviours are universal, it also shows they are not necessarily exclusively the domain of women, although they spend some 40 more minutes on their physical appearance on a daily basis.
However, the researchers did find disparities according to age, especially among women. Middle-aged women, including those in their 40s and 50s, spend the least time on their appearance.
On average, women aged 18 spend 63 minutes more per day on their appearance than women aged 44; while women aged 60 spend 30 minutes more than women aged 44.
Self-esteem and social media
Age is far from the only predictive factor to consider when looking at these behaviours. The fact of not being in a serious relationship, of having high or low self-esteem, or of having a higher socioeconomic status are associated with an increased amount of time spent on improving one’s physical appearance.
That said, according to the researchers, the two most revealing factors are the time spent watching television, and even more so the time spent on social media.
“Most researchers agree that the media often conveys unrealistic physical ideals that are also often unattainable for the average person. Confronting one’s body with the photo-retouched silhouettes of models may trigger many negative feelings and behaviours, including anxiety, depressive symptoms, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorders,” the authors explained.
These findings corroborate the results of a previous study, published in February in the journal “Psychology of Popular Media”, which revealed that young people feel better about themselves when they stay away from social networks.
Conducted by scientists from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Canada, this study showed that limiting social networking to 60 minutes per day among 17-25 year olds improved their perception of their weight and general appearance, compared with unrestricted use.
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