There’s no doubt about it – almost every woman in the world, at some point, has felt terrible about her body. Sure, there are a few rare unicorns who are 100% confident in their skin and can’t find a single flaw in their physique – and we totally admire them. However, most women will find themselves dissatisfied with their bodies on the regular. They’ll stare at the carefully sculpted physiques of celebrities and wonder why they can’t have that body. They’ll attempt crazy fad diets and new work outs that promise to give the perfect booty, washboard abs, toned arms and more – and it usually never quite ends up working out.
Knowing the average woman’s thoughts about her own body, LifeScience conducted a survey asking female students at British universities what they would trade for their ideal bodies. As in, a magic wand kind of situation – you would just wake up and make a quick trade, and suddenly, you’d be living in your perfect body. What would you be willing to give up? What would you sacrifice without a second thought if it meant you could get your perfect body? The woman answered – and you might be shocked at what exactly they would happily sacrifice for a perfect bod. Here are 15 things that women would give up for their ideal body.
15 Literal years of their lives
Okay, we’ll jump right in with what is perhaps the most shocking. Thanks to modern medicine and technology, people are able to live longer, healthier lives. We simply have more information about the human body than our ancestors did, and we know what behaviors are negative and what behaviors are positive. However, to the women surveyed, having a long life wasn’t quite as important as having a killer body. 16% of the women surveyed would willingly sacrifice a year of their lives for their ideal body, 10% were willing to up the ante and sacrifice between two and five years, and 2% were willing to give up an entire decade of their lives just to have their ideal body in the remaining years. And, if that weren’t unbelievable enough, 1% of the women surveyed just went full throttle and said they would give up upwards of 21 years. It’s crazy!
While an investment in your own health can be invaluable, let’s face it – it can also be really, really expensive. Opting to buy only healthy, organic foods, and maintaining a gym membership or a pass to certain fitness studios, all that adds up. It’s one of the reason that so many women find themselves searching for inexpensive options to stay fit and seeking out budget recipes that allow them to steer clear of processed foods without paying a fortune. However, we’re not just talking about women being willing to give up a chunk of money to achieve their health goals – that’s something that men looking to get fit must do as well. Amongst the surveyed women, 13% said they would take a pay cut of 5,000 British pounds in order to have their perfect bodies. That’s right – they would sacrifice the salaries they worked so hard for, just to have a physique that was their ideal.
13 A promotion
Once upon a time, women weren’t really a huge part of the work force, and if they were, they were relegated to jobs like secretaries and assistants. Once ladies stepped into formation though, they absolutely started rocking it – there are so many talented, intelligent, badass women tearing it up in their respective industries and getting promoted over and over again because they’re absolutely slaying. However, 8% of the women in the survey admitted that they would forego a promotion at work if it meant that they could have their ideal body. That’s right – they would be willing to deny themselves the fruits of their labour, the shiny apple at the end of their long hustle day after day. Sure, having your ideal body would be amazing – but what about having your ideal career? It seems incredibly frustrating to work hard day after day and have nothing to show for it because you’ve decided to swap a promotion for a killer physique.
12 Academic success
This one is a bit more specific to the university-aged demographic that the survey spoke with, but it’s still impactful – in fact, it’s kind of along the lines of being willing to give up on a promotion. Of the surveyed women, 6% said they would give up getting a first in their degree (basically the British version of an A+) if it meant they could have their perfect body. After all those hours of studying and completing endless readings and taking grueling final exams, all those hours writing essays or working on assignments, that 6% would be willing to give up on the result that they had worked for – that they had earned, really – in exchange for a certain body. Again, we can’t help but wonder – why would you give up something that you worked so hard for, for so many years? You earned that shiny star on your degree! Don’t give it up just for the perfect abs!
11 Time with family
Most people have absolutely jam-packed schedules and need to actively carve out time for things they enjoy, whether that be exercising, engaging in a hobby, working on a new school, or socializing with their loved ones. However, most people do make that time because they know it’s a priority. Despite that, 7% of the women surveyed stated that they would give up spending time with their family in order to have the ideal body. Stop to think about that for a moment. Would you willingly want to cut off all ties with your family, the people who have loved you your entire life and are always there to help when you need it, simply to squeeze into a smaller pair of jeans? It seems so ludicrous, yet for some women, a smaller size is worth it. Now, this one depends a bit on your family life – if you’re somewhat estranged from your family, it may not seem like such a big deal, but to those with big, loving families, the idea of giving up spending time with them may seem incomprehensible.
10 Time with friends
Many adults end up moving across the country, setting up camp in major metropolitan cities far away from the sleepy suburbs or quaint rural towns they grew up in. Consequently, while your family will always be your family, many individuals essentially create new families in their circle of friends. Friends are who you spend the majority of your time with, who you call crying after a bad day, who you spill your guts to and ask for relationship advice. Friends are the ones who will come over with a bottle of cheap wine and a stack of DVDs and magazines for a girls’ night in. Friends are without question an indispensable part of any woman’s life. And yet, 9% of the women surveyed said that, if they could get the ideal body by giving something in their life up, they would be willing to give up spending time with their friends. Your perfect body isn’t going to pour you a glass of rose and tell you what a douche that guy you were dating was, that’s all we’re saying.
9 Their health
On the most basic level, an ideal body should be a healthy body – a body that is functioning at its optimal level. Everyone has a different body type, so this might look very different for individuals. One person’s healthy body might be very thin and lanky, while another person’s healthy body might be a bit curvier. Either way, an ideal body should be a healthy one, right? Well, the key word is ‘should be.’ Unfortunately, some women don’t really consider health when it comes to thinking of what an ideal body means to them. They simply want to be thin in certain places, curvy in others, and have a body that looks aesthetically pleasing – regardless of what’s going on under the surface. This fact is proven by the survey responses, where 7% of women asked said that they would give up their health to achieve their ideal shape. Your health is an integral part of your quality of life, and if you’re rocking your ideal body but are stuck in a hospital bed because you’ve absolutely trashed your health, that won’t be much of a life at all.
Getting all glammed up every now and then can be a lot of fun. Sure, false lashes and sky-high stiletto heels aren’t exactly the most comfortable things in the world. Sure, the underwire in your push-up bra might be digging into your chest, and your feet might be literally burning in pain. However, sometimes, it’s worth it for that extra boost of confidence – key word being sometimes. Women all too frequently stuff themselves into compression garments like Spanx in an attempt to achieve their perfect bodies, and sure, on the surface, it definitely works. All your lumps and bumps will be smoothed out, and you’ll look instantly slimmer. However, any woman who has spent an entire evening in tight compression garments knows the feeling of relief when you take them off – because they’re just not comfortable for hours on end! Yet women keep buying them, because they help create the illusion of an ideal body.
7 Delicious foods
When Shape surveyed its readers in anticipation of bikini season, they got some interesting results. Sure, most of us knew that the majority of women aren’t exactly jumping up and down in excitement at the prospect of donning a bikini on the beach – in fact, most women kind of dread beach season. It’s great to enjoy the sun and sand, but the idea of parading around in what is essentially underwear can be nerve-wracking. So, it may not come as a surprise that 60% of the women surveyed said that they were dieting in anticipation of donning their bikinis. While it’s definitely great to eat healthfully, let’s be serious – a ‘diet’ doesn’t really mean incorporating more fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and whole foods in your diet. For many women, it involves drastically cutting back your calories, incorporating processed low calorie options, and constantly denying yourself foods that you’re craving such as chocolate, burgers, pizza and more.
Okay, this one surprised us a little bit. In the pre-bikini season survey that Shape conducted, they found that 68% of readers surveyed said that they would give up intimacy for at least a month if it meant that they would get their ideal beach body. A month! First of all, we’ll point out that getting it on is actually great for you physically – it gets your body moving, it works a lot of your muscles, and it releases a ton of feel-good hormones that are beneficial for your health. It’s also a fantastic thing for your relationship, as it can help bring you closer to your partner, or even just give you a boost of confidence and well-deserved pleasure if you’re not tied down and taking things a bit more casually. Either way, why would you deny yourself something that has a lot of benefits simply to squeeze into a smaller dress size?
This time, we’re not talking about giving up full years of your life. Instead, we’re just talking about the constant time that is necessary in order to achieve a perfect body. There’s no secret – a rock-hard physique takes a lot of time to achieve. There’s countless hours spent at the gym, countless hours training, and countless hours meal prepping in the kitchen and creating carefully crafted meal plans. It’s a lot of work – that’s why so many of the sculpted fitness goddesses you’re envying on Instagram are full-time fitness models, or involved in the fitness industry in some way. You can certainly maintain a killer physique and put in that kind of time while you’re working a regular nine to five, but you need to prioritize in order to do so. If you’re chasing an ideal body, there’s no way around it – you’re probably going to have to be willing to give up a few hours of Netflix bingeing on the weekends in order to hit the gym, to have your healthy meals prepped for the week, etc.
4 Cell phone
Since the invention of smart phones, most of us have our phones glued to us nearly 24/7. That’s because they’re no longer just a way to communicate by calling someone up. Thanks to the variety of apps and innovations, smart phones are essentially a one stop shop – you can gossip with a girlfriend, read some cool articles, catch up on social media, work on your hobbies and even more. Our society’s reliance on smart phones makes it even more unbelievably that 19% of women in a poll on aging conducted by Elizabeth Arden stated that they would be willing to give up their cell phones in place of a perfect figure. I mean, sure, you might have an ideal body – but how would you make plans with friends? How would you pull up Pinterest in your kitchen to try out that recipe you spotted? Is all the inconvenience of not having a phone at your disposal worth a few lost pounds?
3 Retirement savings
Ladies, ladies, ladies – seriously? Saving responsibly for retirement is one of the most important things you can do, and while not everyone manages to start in their 20s, the earlier you start, the less you have to put away each month in order to retire on a cushy nest egg when you so desire. After all, most people don’t want to be working until they’re 90 years old. However, in the poll conducted by Elizabeth Arden, 45% of the women surveyed stated that they would rather age gracefully than save money for retirement. Granted, aging gracefully and having an ideal body aren’t necessarily the exact same thing, but having a killer physique is often associated with youth, just because as you age, your metabolism slows and while you certainly can have an incredible body, it takes just a little bit more work than it did when you were 18. Either way – savings should trump a sculpted body.
Sometimes in life, you have to make sacrifices in order to pursue your priorities – we get that. However, there’s no question that the pursuit of a perfect body comes with a lot of sacrifices. Even if it’s not some type of magical scenario where giving up something in your life will allow you to attain the perfect body, which is the situation that many of these types of polls and surveys set up, the fact is that attaining your perfect body will likely require you to give up on a little bit of your happiness. There are some individuals who absolutely love working out, yes. However, there comes a time when almost everyone will get sick of eating the same old chicken breast and broccoli for the tenth week in a row. There comes a time when your alarm goes off at 4:00 am because you wanted to squeeze in an extra long workout before starting work when you’ll just be absolutely exhausted. There will be times when you turn down drinks with friends because you can’t afford the calories and you don’t trust yourself to stick to water all night. Sometimes, trying to get the perfect body requires a lot more sacrifice than you know.
Many women are so focused on getting the perfect body that they think somehow, if they sculpt six pack abs and slim down their legs and create the perfect physique, they’ll suddenly feel completely at home in their bodies. Their insecurities will magically disappear and their confidence will skyrocket, all because they could finally fit into their goal size. News flash – beauty and body confidence comes from the inside. No matter how you look, if you don’t learn to love your body, you will probably always find some flaws to bum you out. Many women look at fit, toned women and put them up on a pedestal because they have their dream body, when really, your ideal body should simply be the healthiest, best body you can sculpt. That might mean different things for different people – and that’s okay. It’s just important that, as you work on sculpting your ‘ideal’ body, you also work on sculpting your mind and realizing that you have an ideal body already – that you are just perfect the way you are.