Source: The Mercury, 8 December, 1999, p.7

Bigger women now the norm


TODAY'S average woman is 
taller, heavier and wider than 
her grandmother was in the 
1920s-and most hate it. 
   While famous Hollywood 
actresses waste away, average 
Australian women struggle to 
squeeze into larger clothes. 
   Big bottoms, flabby hips, 
thighs and stomachs and small 
breasts top the list of body 
   This poor body image 
prompted almost one in four 
women between 25 and 39 to 
diet during the past 12 
months, a survey to find the 
"real Australian woman" has 
   A similar number admitted 
they would consider resorting 
to plastic surgery if they could 
afford it. 
   The University of Newcastle 
study released yesterday found 
the average modern woman 
aged between 25 and 39 is 
164.5cm tall, weighs 65.9kg 
and has a waist measurement 
of 76.4cm, 101.6cm hips and 
93.4cm bust. 
   This makes her 3cm taller, 
5kg heavier and with a 4cm 
larger waist than her 
counterparts in the 1920s, 
when body image started to 
become important. 
   But as their clothes size has 
grown, their body image has 
   About 65% of women 
compared their bodies 
with other women, including 
"skin and bones" models, 
which exacerbated the problem, 
University of Newcastle 
researcher Amanda Patterson 
   "The gap between models 
and actresses and real women 
has never been greater," Dr 
Patterson said. 
   Women didn't help their 
cause because "I think women 
are harder on themselves than 
men are on women", she said. 
   "We need to learn to accept 
that women come in different 
shapes and sizes," she said. 
   Almost three-quarters of 
women dream of being 
skinnier, with a third having 
dieted at least once in the past 
   Most complain they have 
problems finding clothes that 
fit, with the biggest 
complaint being clothes that 
are too tight around the hips 
and bottom, but too loose 
around the waist. 
   Sex therapist Rosie King 
said dieting had become an 
Olympic sport "with everyone 
going for gold". 
   "Eating has become a sin 
and the punishment is social 
ostracism," Dr King said. 
   "There is a tremendous 
amount of shame 
associated with weight. 
While society will not 
put up with sex or racial 
discrimination, many suffer 
from fat phobia. 
   The doctor's advice to 
women is to stop weighing 
themselves, boycott companies 
which promote unrealistic 
body shapes in advertising 
and accept who they are.

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