The vast majority of US women believe that the way they look determines their success in life

In a major US survey, Glamour and L’Oréal Paris talked to 2,000 American women about self-esteem and their hopes for the future.

First, the good news. Forget what you’ve heard (and, uh, might be feeling) about American anxiety: By and large, women are optimistic about their lives and their futures. Three-quarters believe they’re making progress toward their life goals, and 67 percent believe they’ll be better off in the next five years. That’s a huge jump from Glamour’s results two years ago, when only 42 percent had that optimistic outlook.

And when it comes to confidence: Ladies, we’ve turned a corner. The majority of women across all generations, ethnicities, incomes, and zip codes are happy with their overall appearance and are more likely to use positive words like happy(58%), smart (56%), and confident (41%) to describe themselves than negative words….

….the survey shows how wrapped up many of us are in our looks overall: 44 percent of women consider their appearance a key part of their identity, outranking being a mom, or their job, religion, or heritage. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—our looks are part of our personal awesomeness, and by the way, 64 percent of us say we’re happy with our overall appearance. But “the danger is when appearance becomes the most important thing that defines you, and I see shades of this in the data,” says Pence. Barbara Risman, Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Illinois in Chicago, agrees: “What struck me is that the vast majority of women believe that the way they look determines their success in life—even how well they do in the labor force.” Indeed, 73 percent of our survey takers say being “beautiful” helps women get ahead at work, and 84 percent believe it gives them an edge in life in general. That may be true in our appearance-obsessed culture—and it’s not exactly a relaxing reality to wake up to every morning.

Read the report here.

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