Half of modern Brit women are not shapely

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 09:36 AM IST

London: A survey has found that almost half of British women mistakenly believe they have figures that match the ideal body shape desired by men.

About 3,000 women were asked which fruit or vegetable best described their own shape, before providing their actual waist and hip measurements to researchers.

Some 27 percent told the researchers they thought they had the coveted butternut squash figure, with small waist, larger hips and bust, while 21 percent said they had the slightly less iconic pear figure of small waist and bust but larger hips.

Only 21 percent of women said they believed themselves to be the far less appealing ‘apple’ shape, plumper around the middle and bust.

Of the rest, 16 percent had described themselves as an aubergine, with larger waist and hips and small bust, while the remaining 15 percent said they were carrot-shaped, long and lean with no curves, or like a broccoli floret, with large bust, skinny waist and hips.

Their vital statistics however showed that most of the women surveyed were labouring under a false impression of their own body shapes.

In reality more than half were apple-shaped, and far fewer had a pear or butternut squash figure than they thought. The average hip size for all the women polled was 36in, and the average waist size was 30in.

The lifestyles of modern-day working women may be responsible for the decline in the prevalence of the hourglass due to the high stress levels they experience their careers.

Scientists have found that women who work tend to carry fat around their stomachs, rather than their hips.

"Our waistlines have ballooned - women are fatter around the middle than ever - and our stressful lifestyles are to blame," the Telegraph quoted Dr Marilyn Glenville, an expert in women’s health, as saying.

"When we are stressed the body releases extra energy in the form of fat and glucose, to prepare us for the "fight or flight" mechanism, but unless you do something physical it is re-deposited as fat around the middle of your body.

"The reason fat targets the middle is because it is close to the liver where it can be quickly converted back into energy if needed," she stated.

The survey, commissioned by health and beauty event the Vitality Show being held in London next month, revealed that modern women, on average, have a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.83.

It found that even women who have the ‘butternut’ figure today have slightly larger waists than the 1950s hourglass, although they are also more aware of healthy diets and exercise so are less likely to carry as much weight on their hips.

"The butternut squash shape is considered the Western conception of the ideal, so it’s understandable that women would want to view their bodies in this way," Sally Stubbs, a psychotherapist, said.

"The reality is that only about 8 percent of women have a truly hourglass physique.”

"In the past women were more likely to wear boned corsetry to manipulate their weight distribution and this may be why the figures from the 1950s show such a drastically small waist.”

"Women need to be more realistic - particularly those of us who have had children - and accept the assets and flaws of our bodies," she added.

ANI