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Appearance-related stress rockets among young women, survey reveals

Some 42% of young women have experienced stress related to their appearance this year, up from 26% in 2016, analysts said.

Appearance-related stress has rocketed among young women, likely cultivated by social media and reality TV shows such as Love Island, a survey suggests.

More than four in 10 women (42%) aged 16 to 24 have experienced stress related to their appearance this year, up from 26% in 2016, according to a report by analysts Mintel.

Hera Crossan, research analyst at Mintel, said: “The constant exposure to unrealistic ideals of beauty is having a strong impact on young women, who increasingly report their physical appearance as a factor of stress and discontent.

“It is likely that social media and reality TV shows such as Love Island have helped cultivate an unhealthy obsession with appearance perfection that women feel the need to live up to.”

  • Money (41%)
  • Work (32%)
  • Physical health problems (25%)

Overall, 91% of 16 to 24-year-olds have experienced stress in the last year compared with 77% of over-55s.

But while stress levels peak among younger consumers, just 4% did nothing to tackle the problem, compared with 23% of over-55s.

The top three sources of stress for Britons are money (41%), work (32%) and physical health problems (25%), the poll found.

Ms Crossan said: “Over-55s may be less likely to report experiencing stress in the last year than Britain’s youngest adults, and indeed have fewer contributory factors, but the proportion who have been impacted by any stress is still high.

Very few adults who experienced stress in the last year spoke to a professional Hera Crossan

“While cultural changes have meant that under-25s are much more open to talking about their mental health, older consumers are still much more likely to ‘bottle it up’, and deal with the problem alone.”

She added: “Growing financial pressure on the side of the NHS and the continued consumer-driven stigma surrounding the practice have meant that Brits are not getting the mental healthcare they need.

“Very few adults who experienced stress in the last year spoke to a professional, suggesting that reduced access to medical services could be a hindrance.

“However, an increase in app-based support and therapy via video conference could help fill the gap in mental healthcare.”

Mintel surveyed 2,000 internet users aged 16 and over in February.

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