Across America, women are feeling more confident about themselves and their futures than ever before—75% of women say they’re making progress toward their life goals. In the U.S., women now earn more college and graduate degrees than men, make up 47% of the workforce (70% of moms work now work outside the home and 75% of them are employed full-time), and women own close to 10 million businesses. However, while progress is being made, many women still struggle with body issues and self-esteem. A new study reveals what’s fueling self-confidence among women and how we may be undermining ourselves.
Power and Positivity
Women are feeling good about themselves and their future—67% of women of all demographics, ethnicities, and zip codes believe they will be better off in the next five years and use words like happy (58%), smart (56%), and confident (41%) to describe themselves. Two groups expressing particularly high confidence levels are African American women and Millennials. African American women are more likely to describe themselves as successful (44%, compared to 30% of white, and 21% of Hispanic women). Among Millennials, 73% say they believe they will be better off in five years, and this was especially pronounced among Millennial women under 25. What do they hope to achieve? 70% of women say their top priority in life is to become financially secure.
Appearance Still Matters
Although women have become more confident overall, our outward appearance still plays a key role in how women feel about themselves. Although 87% of women say that their intelligence and personality defines who they are, 73% percent of women rank appearance as a factor in their self-worth and almost half of all women consider their appearance an integral part of their identity. Women still feel that they, at least somewhat, must rely on their looks to succeed—73% believe that being beautiful helps women get ahead at work, and 84% say that attractive women have an edge in life.
While it’s true that women are rejecting unattainable and unrealistic standards of beauty, only 43% of women in urban areas and 28% of women in rural areas would describe themselves as “beautiful.” However, among African American women, who have largely been underrepresented in the media and advertising, 59% describe themselves as beautiful, whereas only 25% of white women and a third of Latinas do. Aspirational images may influence what we consider “beautiful,” but women in general are feeling good about the way they look—64% of women say they’re happy with their overall appearance.
The Social Story
Women are thought of as inherently social beings, so it’s no surprise that social media has captured their hearts…and attention. More than a third of women check social media at least once an hour and 74% believe that social media is a positive force in their lives—it inspires them, and allows them to feel connected to others. Three out of five women say the act of sharing experiences on social makes them feel good about themselves. Social helps women improve their lives; 66% received practical tips and advice from tutorials and 54% were inspired by social content to create their own unique style or look.
But there is a downside, one-third of women who have social media accounts say that seeing other people’s posts can make them feel bad about their own lives. When women compare their success and lives to those they see on social, it can negatively affect their self-worth. In fact, 35% of girls are worry about people tagging them in unattractive photos and 22% feel bad if the content they post is ignored by their peers. Overall, 64% of women admit to monitoring their accounts and taking action when a negative comment or unflattering photo is shared.
Marketing to Women
Understanding how women feel about themselves and where their vulnerabilities are can help marketers to create content that addresses their concerns and builds upon their strengths. Women’s Marketing’s insights team dives deep to discover how women relate to each other, media, and brands. Contact us to learn how our best-in-class insights and strategy teams help brands grow.
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor 12 Stats About Working Women March 2017, Glamour and L’Oréal Paris Harris Poll 50 States of Women August 2017, CNN How Girls Use Social Media to Build Up, Break Down Self Image January 2017