Ten years of R.O.A.R. youth research finds most young Brits:
• Like their bodies the way they are
• Think plastic surgery is acceptable
……… but they wouldn’t choose to have it themselves
• Regard dressing to shock as a no no
• Aren’t influenced by the latest fashion trends
An extensive survey of young people’s attitudes to their appearance, cosmetic surgery and fashion trends has found that, in spite of constant exposure to an image-obsessed media, young Brits are confident of their body image and are less likely to be slaves to the latest fashion trends than they were 10 years ago.
These are the latest findings from R.O.A.R. (Right of Admission Reserved) the influential research programme run by OMD Insight (the research division of the OMD media agency group) and Channel 4, to investigate the lifestyles and attitudes of young people in Britain.
To mark the tenth anniversary of the launch of R.O.A.R., OMD Insight and Channel 4 decided to revisit the generation of young people first interviewed in 1995 to gauge how their attitudes have changed over the past decade and to compare their attitudes with those of today’s generation of 15-24 year olds.
Fat and happy?
The media is often accused of bombarding young people with unhealthy images of waif-like figures models. But young Britons seem to be more impervious to this continual exposure to skinny celebrities than expected.
Perhaps it’s because they have grown accustomed to it, having seen the ‘without makeup’ shots that betray celebrities’ and film stars’ real appearances? R.O.A.R. found that half (49%) of 15-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds are perfectly happy with the way their bodies look, while 21% of the younger group and 27% of the older group were undecided. Less than a third of both age groups disagreed with the statement: “I am happy with the way my body looks”.
In spite of the deluge of TV make-over shows promoting the benefits of Botox injections and facial tucks, only 17% of 15-24 year olds and the same proportion of 25-34 year olds would have plastic surgery to enhance their features now – even if money was no object. A massive 70% of 15-24 year olds and 69% of 25-34 year olds would not be tempted to tinker with Mother Nature.
When asked whether they agreed with the statement, “I would consider having plastic surgery in later life if I needed it”, just 32% of 15-24 year olds and 27% of 25-34 year olds agreed, while a majority – 49% and 53% – disagreed.
This is particularly interesting in the context of young people’s attitudes towards the acceptability of plastic surgery in general. Despite their aversion to having cosmetic surgery themselves, nearly two-thirds find it acceptable for other people. R.O.A.R. found 60% of 15-24 year olds and 63% of 25-34 year olds agreed with the statement: “Cosmetic surgery is acceptable nowadays”.
Dressing with confidence
The finding that young Brits are at ease with their looks is reinforced by R.O.A.R. data on how young people dress and how they view trends in fashion.
Over the last decade, teenage angst seems to have softened around the edges. Compared to 10 years ago, there is now less desire to rebel and assert their individuality through their clothing.
In 2005, 9% of 15-24 year olds agree that they “dress to shock” compared with 11% ten years ago. The original panel of 15-24 year olds ROAR talked to in 1995 have also mellowed as they have grown up – only 3% of the group, now aged 25-34 years old, say they still dress to shock.
This diminished need to make an impact through fashion is reinforced by the finding that today fewer 15-24 year olds agree with the statement “I dress in an individual style” than in 1995. Ten years ago, 66% of the original ROAR kids felt they asserted their individuality through their clothes, compared with 55% of today’s 15-24 year olds. As the original respondents have grown older they have also conformed to fashion norms – now aged 25-34, only 51% say they dress in an individualistic way.
However, young Britons are more resistant to fashion trends than ever. Ten years ago, 47% of 15-24 year olds agreed that it was important to keep up with the latest fashion trends, dropping to 31% amongst that age group in 2005, and down to 20% amongst the older original respondents, now aged 25-34.
Jo Rigby, Head of OMD Insight comments: “These results surprised us. Far from revealing an angst-ridden generation desperate to look like their favourite celebrities, the research shows us a generation quite comfortable with the way they look. Despite the past decade of celebrity-madness it's refreshing to see that today's youth aren't feeling the pressure to mirror the images of perfection they see in the media everyday.”
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
R.O.A.R asked 1,000 15-24s and 1,000 25-34s to take part in an online survey which looked at their media habits, consumption and attitudes.
We replicated from the original 1995 survey in order to establish trends and understand how 15-24s have changed from 10 years ago.
The respondents were also asked a number of topical questions relevant to the world in which they live today.
In some instances, respondents were asked whether they:- agreed, disagreed or neither agreed nor disagreed with various statements. Therefore, the positive and negative responses do not always add up 100%.
The research was carried out at the end of April.
OMD Insight is the research arm of OMD, the world’s number one media planning and buying agency network, owned by Omnicom.
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