MaltaToday Survey | Fitter, better, healthier…

Fitness regimes, slim women and toned men, and maybe some ink too: MaltaToday’s survey on the way we view the human body offers an insight into the way our appreciation of the body has changed

james
James Debono
4 August 2015, 8:10am
What women want...
What women want...
Fitness, tattoos, and looks • MaltaToday Survey 2 August 2015 | Create infographics
Many who are famous have one, and a MaltaToday survey shows that while only 16% of under-35-year-old males have a tattoo, the percentage rises to 28% among females in the same age range.

The survey, conducted among 400 respondents, shows that women aged under 35 and men aged between 35 and 54 years are the most likely to have a tattoo on their bodies. The survey shows that an overwhelming majority would not object to a teacher sporting a visible tattoo on her body.

It also shows that while under-34-year-olds generally think that the best shape for both men and women is to be slim, over-35-year-olds prefer women who are a bit plump. Only 5% prefer men to be muscled while 83% prefer men who are a bit built up.

Young people are also the most likely to frequent a gym. But while the university educated are more likely to go to the gym, the secondary educated are the most likely to sport a tattoo.

Pumping iron: 86% do it to stay fit

80% of those who have a gym membership do so to become fitter. Only 13% go to the gym to get slimmer. But among women the percentage who frequent the gym to slim rises to 22%. Only 8% of males say they go to the gym to build muscles and just 2% of men go to lose weight.

Although only 16% of the general population go to a gym, those who have joined a gym train on a regular basis. In fact 54% of gym members go to the gym more than three times a week while 43% train once or twice a week.

The university educated are the most likely to join a gym – while 25% of university educated people train in a gym only 13% of secondary educated respondents do so.

Males aged less than 35 years are the most likely to attend a gym. In the 35 to 54 years old and over 55-year-old brackets females are more likely to go to a gym than males.

Tattoos no longer taboo

In a clear indication of liberalised mores, 56% would not object to a teacher in a secondary school sporting a visible tattoo. Among the under-35-year-olds the percentage of those who would not mind rises to a staggering 79%. But among over-55-year-olds 61% would object. This indicates a radical change in social attitudes, with tattoos remaining taboo among older respondents but being increasingly accepted by under-35-year-olds.

Although tattoos are increasingly accepted, social class may still be a factor in the choice on whether to have a tattoo or not. In fact only 11% of university educated respondents have a tattoo.

Surprisingly, the survey indicates that younger women are nearly twice as likely to have a tattoo than younger males, while among 35- to 54-year-olds, males are twice as likely to have a tattoo. This may be an indication of social change, with tattoos becoming more feminised in the past few years.

This tallies with poll results in other countries. A poll conducted by Fox News in 2014 found that nearly half of women under age 35 have gotten ink, almost double their male counterparts (47% vs 25%). Another poll conducted in the USA in 2012 found that for the first time, women were more likely to have tattoos at 23%, compared to 19% for men.

A survey in the UK conducted in 2010 had found that 25% of the population has a tattoo. The MaltaToday survey puts the overall figure for Malta at just 16%. The least likely to have a tattoo in Malta are females over the age of 55. Among this category only 4% have a tattoo.

The survey also shows that the favourite place where one has a tattoo is the back, arms and legs.

Young people prefer slim bodies

The survey also shows radically divergent views on body size, with younger respondents more likely to prefer slim bodies. But defying body image stereotypes an overall relative majority of 48% prefers women who are a bit plump.

Males aged under 35 years of age are the most likely to prefer women with slim bodies.

Among this category 67% express this preference. 58% of females in this age cohort also express the same opinion.

But attitudes towards female body size change drastically among over 35-year-olds. 57% of males and 52% of women aged between 35 and 54 prefer women to be a bit plump.

Among the over-55-years-old the percentage who prefer women to be a bit plump rises to 60% among men and 54% among females. Only 3% of over-55 years and 2% of 35- to 54-year-olds prefer plump women.

As regards men the majority (63%) prefers them to be a bit plump. The only age group to prefer slim males are women aged under 35 years old. 52% of women in this cohort prefer slim men.

Significantly none of the respondents replied that they prefer very slim women or very slim men.

When it comes to muscles only 8% prefer men to be very muscled. But the percentage rises to 12% among females aged between 18 to 34 and to 9% among females aged between 35 and 54.

The vast majority (58%) prefer a woman who is not muscled.

Methodology

The survey was held between Monday 13 and Thursday 16 July. 511 respondents were contacted of which 400 accepted to participate. Respondents were chosen from telephone directories. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...