Skip to content

Survey finds 90% of youth concerned about body image

Young boy in glasses looking into the mirror
Young boy in glasses looking into the mirror

For the first time in Australia, Butterfly Foundation has released national survey findings which highlight the attitudes and perceptions of young people and their body image, as well as the impact its had on their lives.

With our funding support, the Body Kind Youth Survey explored the body image experiences of over 1,600 young people in Australia aged 12-18 years, and found: 

  • Nearly half (45%) of young people are dissatisfied with how their body looks;

  • Nearly 70% of young people said they had experienced appearance-related teasing, with 73% of these saying they'd experienced it at school;

  • Nearly two-thirds of young people say their body image stops them from doing physical activities.  

90% of teenagers reported having some level of body image concern, with one in three (38%) being very or extremely concerned. Females, gender diverse youth and those in the LGBTQIA+ community reported the highest levels of body dissatisfaction.  

The research also showed the relationship between social media and young peoples’ feelings of body dissatisfaction, including a desire to be thinner. Poorer body appreciation and greater life disengagement were also identified. 64% of kids across all genders also expressed a desire to be ‘more muscular’. 

The survey also found: 

  • One in two (50%) young people said that how they view their body has prevented them at some point from raising their hand in class;

  • Nearly half (45%) of young people said their body image had stopped them from going to the beach quite a bit, or all the time;

  • Over a third (37%) admitted that their body image stopped them from participating in physical activity or sport quite a bit or all of the time; 

  • A third (36%) confirmed their body image stopped them from giving an opinion or standing up for themselves.  

The survey results will form part of an ongoing national dataset so that Butterfly Foundation can continue to track the attitudes of young people relating to body image and provide them and their families’ with the best-evidenced tools and resources to tackle body image concerns. Prior to this, there was no national data in Australia that represented the body image experiences of young people in this age group.

To find out more about the survey results, or to check out Butterfly Foundation’s resources and services, click here.

If this has raised any concerns for you regarding body image issues or an eating disorder, please call Butterfly Foundation National Helpline on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or e-mail [email protected]