When Dove’s largest global beauty study to date was released in 2010, The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited spurred many conversations about beauty amongst women all over the world that are still going on today.

The global survey revealed that 54% of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic. But how does the South African woman fit into this statistic? Because South Africa wasn’t one of the 20 countries that participated in the 2010 global survey, Dove South Africa decided to commission a local online survey in September 2013.

The results of the local study are fascinating. The South African survey wasn’t far behind the global figure of 54%, with 45% of South African women admitting that they are their own greatest source of beauty pressure.

While South African women are far more confident with their own beauty than the women represented in the global survey - in contrast to the global figure of 4%, the local survey revealed that 53% of the 470 women that participated described themselves as beautiful - the South African study did reveal that women locally experience the same beauty pressures as women the world over.

“What’s interesting is that the further the survey delved into the average South African woman’s perception of beauty and societal pressure to look beautiful, the more their answers mimicked those of women in other parts of the world,” says Dove marketing manager Kate Swan.

While the majority of women globally admitted to feeling pressure to be beautiful (59%), 32% of South African women said they feel pressurised to be beautiful most of the time and 49% said they feel pressurised to be beautiful occasionally.

The global research uncovered an interesting beauty paradox: while 80% of women see the beauty in others, agreeing that every woman has something about her that is beautiful, they are unable to recognise their own beauty.

South African women fall prey to the same paradox. Forty-three percent of the women surveyed admitted they accept a compliment easily, yet 47% admitted that the aspect of themselves that they criticise the most is how they look.

The conversations that the 2010 global survey started clearly resonate with South African women.

“We’re encouraging women locally to join our conversation around real beauty and to share their opinions. We want South African women to change the way they see beauty and to be less critical of themselves,” says Swan.

The local survey also revealed that:

•    45% of women feel beautiful when they take care of themselves, are happy and in love.

•    48% of women feel beautiful when they treat themselves and 30% feel beautiful when they do something nice for someone else.

•    59% of women feel a boost in confidence when they’ve done well at work, take care of themselves and help others.

•    43% of women accept a compliment easily, while 36% find it difficult to accept it and 21% don’t believe the compliment they receive.

•    47% of women criticise how they look, 26% how they react, 16% how they feel and 11% how they behave.

•    49% of women feel pressurised to be beautiful occasionally, while 32% feel pressurised most of the time and 19% never feel pressurised.

•    45% of women say they are their own greatest source of beauty pressure, 27% say society is, 17% say the media, 6% say their family and 5% say their friends.

Click here to join the Dove Real Beauty conversation.

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