How Sexy Do You Feel in Your Skin? Women's Body Image Secrets Revealed

Shine from Yahoo! Canada

How good do you feel about baring your body?

We can't flip more than a few pages of a magazines or scroll down through our Facebook news feed without seeing a story totally focused on how a celebrity feels about her body. Chances are, that A-lister's body is a miniscule size and any imperfections you might have seen have been craftily airbrushed out. Should she have cellulite or some other jiggly bit on her body and should she dare acknowledge that normalcy out loud, she's touted as radical or a feminist or heroic. The only way to beat that is to be a plus-sized star who says she's beautiful and loves her curves. Now that's real rebellion on our many screens.

While we're covered when it comes to how stars feel about their bodies, we never seem to hear enough about how real women -- the ones without access to stylists and in-home trainers or who wear three pairs of Spanx under their $200,000 gowns down the red carpet -- feel about the the skin they're in. And aren't these the women we should be getting our inspiration from and identifying with and listening to?

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Yahoo! Shine partnered with Fitness magazine to do just that -- ask real people how they feel about their bodies. The results were fascinating. After asking 2,000 people many questions, here's what we found about what adults in America think when they look in the mirror, their partners, and celebrities who aren't afraid to bare it all.

What we think when we look in the mirror (it's not pretty)
We may cheer on Adele, who says she never wants to lose her curves. But when the rest of us look in the mirror, we're a lot more self-critical than that. Half of all those polled said that they see themselves as "fat" and wish they were "more toned" and "less jiggly." When we pulled out the women's answers, we found that 57% of females felt this way and slightly fewer males (42%) were judging themselves harshly. Sadly, as we age, we aren't any kinder to ourselves. Of the women aged 35 and older, 62% see fat/not toned/too jiggly when they look at their bodies.

The hopeful news is that younger women feel pretty good about what they see. Of those aged 18-34, 40% answered either "I look great!" or "not perfect but I look pretty good." Of the men in the same age bracket, 52% checked off those positive responses.

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We're quick to point out what body parts we don't like
Maybe the many articles targeting flat abs or wobble-free arms or booty-boosting are to blame in part. Perhaps most of us are perfectionists or want to believe that tightening up one muscle group or area of our bodies will make everything OK. Whatever the reason, a startling 81% of men and women told us that they can pinpoint what they perceive their problem areas to be.

Twenty-one percent of women voted "thighs" as their least favorite body part and 11% of men said they're least satisfied with their backside. Arms came in second for both genders.

An interesting twist: Half of all respondents checked off "I don't know" or "none of these" or "other" (than arms, cleavage, butt, thighs, calves, and hips listed). Sure, there are many other body parts to consider. But wouldn't it be nice to think a healthy portion of those polled felt really great about all of those areas and (gorgeous little fingers crossed) their whole bodies?

But we're not afraid to flaunt what we've got

No matter how they feel about the rest of their bodies, the women we surveyed said they do show off what they see as their best features. A third of women say they're most likely to flaunt their cleavage in a low-cut top. They're least likely to bare their abs.

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The good stuff! When we want to get naked
The survey says that we're are very willing to strip down at a nude beach. The caveat is that we'd prefer for it to be the dead of night (29%) or if we first shed 10 or 20 pounds (21%). There are no inhibitions or restrictions for 19% of those asked, however, who said they'd comfortably bare it all in front of others at a nude beach.

Is it a surprise that the exhibitionists are mostly men? Twenty-eight percent were happy to drop their swim trunks, and only 9% were women.

Even better stuff! When we want to get (and see) full-frontal
The cheesy Valentine's Day cliche clearly has some substance -- both men and women agree that a woman in lingerie is sexier than seeing her completely naked. Fifty-three percent of men and 47% of women said leaving a little to the imagination is a lot hotter.

But don't let those numbers fool you. Our findings show that men and women lose the inhibitions at home. While only 9% of women and 27% are likely to walk around nude in a gym locker room, many more (63%) said they will around the house.

There's not a lot of shyness when it comes to sex, either. Three out of four men and women frequently are intimate with the lights on.

Just don't count on capturing those at-home moments! Only 20% of men and 15% of women admitted they've posed naked for a photo. And even fewer (15%) said they'd sent nude pics by text.

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As for those skin-baring celebs...
We'd like to see a lot less of them. To start, 40% said Rihanna reveals too much skin. Also, according to 38% of those polled, Kim Kardashian could cover up a bit more.

Two out of five adults said they know way too much about celebrity couples, thank you very much, especially Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (39%), and the divorcing Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (38%).

The take-away on taking it all off

OK, so we're not all good with all we have. But we're also not afraid to flaunt our favorite parts. And even some tough self-critiquing is not keeping us from showing all our parts -- wiggly or wonderful -- when we're in bed and at home. Clearly, it's time to close the gossip mags and put Kim K. away for a while, step away from the mirror and spend a little more time enjoying the skin we're in -- with the lights on.

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