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Too Fat For Fashion: 5,000 NW Readers Can't Be Wrong!
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Saturday, March 31, 2007

5,000 NW Readers Can't Be Wrong!

British magazine New Woman (or NW according to recent rebranding), conducted a survey of 5,000 readers about body size and image. The results are horrible and disturbing:

  • 97% of those surveyed consider a UK Size 12 fat [US Size 8].
  • 1 in 8 took illegal drugs or medications to aid slimming.
  • 59% thought Size Zero was attractive.
  • 58% believe that men find Size Zero a turn-on.
  • 97% of those surveyed prefer to go out with friends who are 'fatter than them'.
  • 3% said that they were 'happy to have thinner girlfriends'.
  • 76% were 'jealous' of their thinner friends.
  • 94% said they have 'felt fat before a night out'.
  • 50% say 'they go without food all day'
  • 1 in 10 said that they 'make themselves sick so they can fit in a dress'
  • 1/3 have tried to survive on less than 500 calories a day.
  • 6 in 10 said their friends have criticised their body shape.
  • 4 in 10 say their mothers urges them to lose weight.
  • 73% said they 'can't eat normally and stay a size 12 or less'.
  • 48% 'pretend they've eaten when they haven't'.
  • 1/5 claim their colleagues make jibes about their size.
  • 84% said they would be happier if they could lose weight.
  • 2/3 said they think about their size every 12 minutes.
  • 37% have resorted to slimming pills.
  • 1/5 said they had taken laxatives to shed unwanted pounds.

  • The 'most wanted' body shape was Liz Hurley's - a woman who once said "I maintain my figure by eating very little breakfast, not too much lunch. Then only tiny little snacks in the day. I'm on a good old-fashioned low calorie diet - I'm going to bed hungry." The second was Victoria Beckham.

    L-R: Liz Hurley, Victoria Beckham.

    You can see the full 100 list here.

    NW's editor Helen Johnston said:
    "Elizabeth Hurley is the British body icon - pencil slim but still curvy, the perfect shape most women desperately want.

    "However, ordinary women can comfort themselves with the fact it's a 24 hours a day job, requires iron determination and probably very little food.

    "For most of us, a body like Elizabeth Hurley's would require a lifetime of sacrifice.

    "Victoria Beckham is frequently criticised for her body size, but it seems British women are obsessed with her shape and wouldn't hesitate to swap their body for hers. Women think she looks good."

    So far so reasonable. She goes on to say:
    "We all understand the anxiety of going out with a drop-dead gorgeous skinny mate who gets all the attention and leaves us feeling like her fat invisible friend.

    "And there's nothing worse than knowing whatever you wear your slimmer friend is always going to look better than you do."

    Emphasis mine. I sort of understand what Ms Johnston is trying to say here, but her choice of phrasing merely reinforces the myth that slim looks 'better' and that beauty is not subjective. A slimmer friend is always going to look different to you, and in some eyes that difference is better, but Johnston's phrasing is a little off.

    I think the 'Size 12 is fat' stat. is the most important of all these results. The rest of the statistics are about unhappiness with weight, trying to change your weight, going to extremes to do so...presumably to avoid the dreaded Size 12. It seems to me if you can change the Size 12/Fat attitude, you can change the other problems. (It's no 'save the cheerleader, save the world', but still.)

    For the record, I can demonstrate what a UK Size 12 looks like, because I am one. I didn't want to illustrate this with a celebrity picture because someone's specific dress size is, frankly, anyone's guess. So here we go. I am 5'3", I weigh between 130 and 140 pounds at any given time, currently I'm 135. I wear a Size 12 in the majority of stores. I am smaller than the UK national average of Size 16. And according to this survey, I am fat:

    Dress Christopher Kane for Topshop, £110 from Topshop. Neon footless tights, £5 from Topshop. Neon earrings, £2.99 from Topshop. Bangle, vintage.

    Apologies for the blurry picture quality, but I think, I hope, you can see that (questionable nu rave fashion choices aside) a Size 12 is not so terrible. Size 12 it is not something one should be abusing laxatives and drugs to avoid. Nor do I think there is any upper size limit that you can point to and say, 'this is where fat begins', and it's terrifying that the women surveyed not only think that, but (a) set the fat-bar pretty low, and (b) go to extreme lengths to stay beneath it.

    (On a separate note, how awesome is Christopher Kane? Love love love his stuff.)

    I don't really read NW - I've picked it up occasionally, but not recently since they have this irritating environmental thing going on where they call women who care about the environment "eco sluts" - as a positive thing. So shopping pages might feature one organic item and it would have a little star on it saying "eco slut buy!" and I'm not a big fan of calling women sluts, and don't really see why they need to 'sex up' green politics, so...don't ever buy it. Not really sure what their demographic is, nor how they conducted the reader survey.

    I wonder whether we would get the same or similar results from a Vogue or Elle - dedicated fashion magazines - or other magazines with different demographics? Or a nationwide survey? Do the majority of women think this way? Or is it - as our friend Coral from Denver might have it - a certain type of woman who considers me fat?



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