Source: The Mercury, 8 December, 1999, p.7
By SIMON PRISTEL 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 gripes. 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 found. 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 fallen. 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 said. "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 year. 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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