On air: Why can’t a woman be happy with her body?


I ask the question above because of the huge response to yesterday’s show. There are clearly broader discussions about body image that you want to explore. Have a listen to this clip from the last 10 mins of Thursday’s show:
It’s three women of different backgrounds and ages saying women cannot be comfortable with their body. The discussion that carried on after the show, was about why this is the case.

This is Lizzie Miller (a woman hundreds of you call beautiful, fine and not overweight) talking about whether she’d like to lose that roll of skin on her tummy:
And this is the writer Jabeeda Ali on what’s causing this state of affairs:
She argues women are taught to look at themselves as physical beings. In brief, women are doing it but it’s not their fault. Is that how best to explain this universal unhappiness women feel about their bodies?

153 Responses to “On air: Why can’t a woman be happy with her body?”

  1. 1 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 14:32

    How can women be doing it but it not be their fault? Men don’t read these women’s magazines, the men who run them aren’t even into women at all. Ask any man, and they’ll say they don’t like breast implants other than on strippers, and yet women rush out to get them so they can compete with other women. You don’t see men sticking foreign objects into their bodies to compete with other men. It’s time to accept responsibility.

    • 2 Kelly, from Chicago, IL, USA
      September 4, 2009 at 15:59

      Actually Steve, there are men across the world who have ball bearings inserted into their penises to compete with other men!

    • 4 Rebecca
      September 5, 2009 at 01:58

      Perhaps women could be happy with their bodies if the patriarchal arrangement that spans the globe stopped oppressing and objectifying us. The question posed and the responses to it blaming women for being too competitive, for not taking enough responsibility and for not being happy enough with our bodies is simply a demonstration of ongoing sexism. The feminist movement, led mainly by women (taking quite a lot of responsibility, I think) has fought long and hard to achieve a society where women’s bodies are not the topic of the day. Unfortunately, as this entire discussion full of stereotypes of women (‘gossipy’, ‘irrational’, ‘fighting amongst themselves’) demonstrates, the struggle for equality is far from won.

  2. 5 Tony from Singapura
    September 4, 2009 at 15:10

    I think one reason is that women know how women are…

    It is my observation that women talking in a group are more likely to “gossip” about another woman (not present) behind her back – how she dresses, are her tits real, the size of her legs, hairstyle.. all that stuff.

    So because all women know this, they take more care to try and avoid being the subject of such discussions as much as possible.

    So I would say that this situation is not the problem of the fashion magazines, for they are just a symptom of this underlying issue.

    The core reason is best explained by the late Charles Darwin… this type of thinking and behavior is the result of evolution. Women are predisposed to not being happy with their bodies because this type of behavior or thinking has been programmed into their brains.

    No doubt it is a mechanism that helps them to compete with other women in the search for a man with which to mate.

  3. 6 Alby Flugzeug
    September 4, 2009 at 15:14

    A whole fundamental principle of our economy is selling all of us on ideas for things we need to buy to address self-image problems. Creating self-doubt, and self-image problems through socialization, media, and culture therefore is essential to keeping our a large part of our consumer economy going.

    It is a fundamental concept of Western culture that man- and woman-kind is flawed, and lacks perfection, and needs redemption. We don’t celebrate natural human beings! This is also a fundamental part of our culture from Judeo-Christianity, and works well to keep us self-limiting ourselves and everybody else in our minds.

    You could do the very same program about men and their body self-image for many of the same reasons. Very good topic.

  4. 8 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 4, 2009 at 15:19

    There is a lot pressure for women to be thin, breezy and beautiful all the time. The worse part is that a great part of that pressure come from other women. Those standards are impossible to fulfill. But unless, we, women, don´t put a stop to it, there is not much to do.

    About your question, the answer is simple… lack of self-esteem and perspective. I am not against being healthy, but there is a great stretch between being healthy and being obsessed about your body. In fact, crash diets, bulimia, anorexia, and even cosmetic plastic surgery are taking a toll in women´s health.


    • 9 Jack
      September 4, 2009 at 18:45

      Luz Ma,

      Yet more evidence that the fashion “market” is less of a reflection of public demand than the whims of the fashion mavens. Fashion doesn’t present a picture of health, and it hardly can purport to sell sex ; that whole heroin chic that’s become the standard makes the women look like starving, strung-out minors. Last time I checked, it’s considered disgusting to be aroused by kiddie porn. By objectifying women who look that way, doesn’t that send mixed messages about what our social values really are (or what they should be)?

  5. 10 Anthony
    September 4, 2009 at 15:28

    Whoaaaa, hold on a bit. This is a little bit sexist, don’t you think? Men are just as unhappy. Luckily, they can hide their body flaws MUCH easier.

    @ steve

    And yes, you’re absolutly right. It is their (and the medias) fault. I knew this VERY fat girl who got the Lap Band, then surgery, then breast implants. She was the SWEETEST girl, and then when the “new” her showed up, she was just like the rest of them, making fun of the same person she used to be/what her ex friends used to be. It was sad, I haven’t talked to her in a while. (although I know she got a “hot” boyfriend who got her pregnant, and then ditched her. She would have been better off without the surgery in my opinion, because now she has a baby with no dad, and has no “real” friends”)

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  6. 11 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 15:29

    Check out the extremes women go to because they aren’t comfortable in their own skin…


  7. 12 David Collins
    September 4, 2009 at 15:29

    My mother died 4 years ago, at a relatively early age (40’s),leaving behind a vast array of cremes, lipsticks, perfumes – you name it.

    Some of it was scooped up early by other relatives (expensive perfumes), while the rest lingered and eventually went into the rubbish after a year, because my dad and I were mourning, – definately not a good memory.

  8. 13 Grace Igweta
    September 4, 2009 at 15:32

    Probably re-phrase the question because a woman “can” certainly be comfortable in her body..its a choice each woman makes, either to accept her body or do all sorts of weird things to compete with other women Or attract men’s attention?
    queen latifah or ophrah, are said to be “comfortable with thier bodies”.. so “cant” isnt the correct word in this question…
    In africa, a +plus sized woman was considered a man’s success in taking care of his woman 🙂 Still today, I havent seen anyone in rural africa bothered about how big they are… they certainly worry if they are thin because neighbours will gossip that they have HIV/AIDS 🙂

    Grace IGWETA

  9. 14 María, Buenos Aires
    September 4, 2009 at 15:35

    I’m Latinametican, and in my continent women are supposed to look pretty and be good wives. That is their job, so they don’t consider offering to men their intelligence or talent…and men don’t seek those characteristics either… When a woman is not up to the required standard of beauty, she is unhappy cause she feels she can give anything to a man, and therefore, she doesnt deserves love. Or she feels menaced by other women, considered to be of more ‘value’, due to their looks. When a woman is upto the standadrs, she enters a frenetic cult of beauty, where nothing is enough….

    It is sad to see so many latin women in this situation….Me and my friends always wonder why men prefer to have a cute girlfriend with no brains, and an intelligent female friend to keep him company….I guess that we, as women, have to impulse change, cause it wont come from society or macho men.

    • 15 Leo goki, NIGERIA
      September 4, 2009 at 19:35

      Maria the truth is that most men are intimidaated or scared of intelligent women because there is the possibility they will be more intelligent than themselves and that is totally unacceptable by men, men are suppose to be smarter than women

      • 16 María, Buenos Aires
        September 4, 2009 at 20:38

        I agree with you, I’m discussing this issue right know at work, and all my male friends agree that a free thinkin woman often scares them, and thay don’t know how to dazzle her…is a greateer challenge! So they stick to mild tempered, easy going girls…In this way their ego can survive!!

        An Argentinean female blogger, Carolina Aguirre, named this the “Tile Theory”: dumb pretty women in a relationship with bright men…they are occupying a tile that belong to another woman, an intelligent, insighful one. But these men, as long as they have witty woman as friends, they dont need to marry them!

    • 17 SIMONinRio
      September 5, 2009 at 15:21

      Wow! That is brilliant! You have just summed up something I had been unable to put my finger on until now.
      However Argentina is a society of macho men, we all know htis reputation, but how does this come about? Women are the majority and 10% of the men are gay, another 20% of the men aren´t macho either, so who are the macho majority? The females? You can´t have a macho society without the help of women.

  10. September 4, 2009 at 15:35

    There is a very well known secret out here.

    The reason the population of the world is so heavily populated with people is that women are mostly interpreted to be desirable enough to cause men to become sexually excited and want to mate with them for the shear pleasure of it all.

    If men find women desirable and really like being physical with them …. what’s the problem…..

    Believe me ladies…no worry just enjoy life and living.

    wag more…bark less

    troop Oregon Coast

  11. September 4, 2009 at 15:38

    There is evolutionary and scientific research explaining this today. Read the book, “The Female Brain” by Louanne Bizendine, MD for some profound answers to this question. The reality is that at conception and gestation, women’s emotional, communication, and nurturing centers are expanded while their logic and aggression centers are reduced. (The opposite is true for men.) The author claims there are evolutionary reasons that makes this a necessary advantage, but the adverse affect is that they are more susceptible to irrational perceptions of reality, especially about their bodies. Basically, since women can only have one child per year, they need to attract the best possible male to procreate with. They must view their bodies as in pristine shape to attract that male. To what extent depends on the neurochemical and hormonal balance in the specific person.

    • 21 Julie from Akron
      September 4, 2009 at 16:55

      To Dwight- I find this very interesting. I haven’t read this book so I cannot judge it, but I do wonder something: If this is true, then why is it that generally when it comes to animal documentaries, we see the males trying to attract females? Maybe I am just being selective in what I can recall, but I think that is what I’ve seen. You said, “they need to attract the best possible mate,” yet I thought the males, including in our ancestors, were the ones who had to earn the female’s willingness to mate with them.

      • 22 Keith- Ohio
        September 4, 2009 at 18:25

        Well it seems as though both sexes try to attract the best mate… it makes sense when you study both animal and human behavior. I am going to give my honest impression: I do think that women are more concerned with their appearance in many ways than men.

        However, while I honestly can’t determine a hormonal reason that would explain this difference, I also believe that blaming men for putting undue pressure on women is a cop-out. I believe that in our society, in general, men are expected to “woo” women and earn their affections, and therefore a lot of pressure is put upon them as well.

        This is certainly not always the case, and I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just a widely accepted tradition, in both humans and animals. Perhaps if women pursued men more actively, it would give them an opportunity to further display attributes like confidence and personality, which can EASILY overwhelm any physical deficiency.

        I agree with the Jamaican woman with the good head on her shoulders. Women often misunderstand what attracts a man. We prefer personality and confidence, and generally don’t care about a woman’s weight, as long as they are healthy (not clinically obese). I don’t know where these women meet the men that they are so quick to demonize… they must be finding their men at bars….or at a high school.

      • September 5, 2009 at 02:31


        According to the author, primate females are more then likely to groom each other and chatter with each other. Remember that many other species the gestation period and the amount of offspring per conception are multiple. Even in our case males demonstrate their masculinity and show their resourcefulness (bling) in order to be perceived as that they are the “most perfect specimen” of the species. While women are looking for strength and ability to gather resources which are generally external traits, men are looking for large breast, wide hips, and other signs that the mother is fertile and will survive the gestation and birthing process. Both are looking for symmetry. Also, as I have pointed out, the emotional centers in women are more receptive. They don’t process rejection in the same way.

        Anybody who has a wife, mother, or daughter in their life should consider reading this book. It was the scariest thing I have ever read. I was lead to it because serotonin inhibitors have had a major impact on my life. I was taken back by how much we are chemical soups and our perception of reality is influenced by them. This is still emerging research using MRI technology, but for once we have some answer to questions that previously had none. Some may turn out to be wrong, but it is a start.

    • 24 Jack
      September 4, 2009 at 18:31

      Hi Dwight!

      (has nothing to do with the topic, but let me say hi, okay”

  12. September 4, 2009 at 15:38

    Salaam… I’d love to talk about my personal experiences here : I am a 23 yrs. old Iraqi woman and I’ve been putting the Islamic headscarf on since I was eleven yrs. old, all of my clothes are always wide enough including pants even though I am considered to be underweight according to BMI… In our society it is considered generally unacceptable for a man to compliment a woman’s physical appearance (both from a cultural and also religious points of view), so all comments about the way I look practically come from females (whether my sis at home or my girlfriends at college)… I do not deny that I feel happy when my sis or one of my girlfriends at college says to me “You do look good today Lubna!”, but they also joke about how thin I am the whole time, b/c as you know, underweight women aren’t that popular in the Arab world, in the past that used to bother me a a great deal, but over time I grew used to it and got over it time after time, and here I am now; pretty confident with the way I look ! :)…

  13. 27 Kelly, from Chicago, IL, USA
    September 4, 2009 at 15:47

    Of course women can feel happy with their bodies. All types and shapes can do it with the right mind set and positive self-esteem. Nobody, men and women alike, is incapable of self-acceptance. And that doesn’t mean you NEVER have a bad day, just means that overall you love yourself. But that is a mental, emotional, and physical health issue…truly healthy self-image and self-esteem don’t have much to do with what other people think (or magazines).

    However, it is very, very difficult. I think women do it to themselves. I feel a majority of women don’t like themselves, and instead of investing in mental and emotional health they obsess over their bodies. (It’s easier to diet than work through image issues with a therapist.) I think unfortunately many men pick up the message and internalize it as much as the women do. It’s everyone’s fault, it’s a large cycle like other commenters suggest. And advertising does work best when they create fear and desire together in consumers. It is a bad thing.

  14. September 4, 2009 at 15:49

    Also may I add something here ?! If someone tell you (whether you were a man or a woman) that you do look good today, and you’ve sensed his/her honesity and sincerity when he/she said that to you, then surely you’ll feel happy and satisfied to a certain extent, so men do feel happy when someone compliments the way they look too, and there’s nothing wrong with that if it is within the normal limit and the compliment comes from a sincere and honest person… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  15. 29 Denise in Chicago
    September 4, 2009 at 15:49

    It is not only magazines, but all media that are obsessed with an impossible physical standard for women. You rarely see large, unattractive or older women in leading roles on television, in movies or adverts. They are relegated to the funny or cranky neighbor/ co-worker. Unattractive, paunchy, older men are always paired up with young, slim, beautiful women. Blaming women’s magazines is not the problem. It is a societal issue and both women and men need to take a stand. Unfortunately, I believe the problem is far worse in the U.S.

  16. 30 David Collins
    September 4, 2009 at 15:56

    I should have added that she died from heart attack brought on due complications with bulimia nervosa

  17. 31 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 16:02

    @ Lubna

    there’s a problem with someone needs compliments though. Some people actually take it that far, and it’s generally with women who have low self esteem. They need approval, and from lots of people.

    • September 4, 2009 at 17:20

      Hi Steve… There’s actually a huge difference between a person who constantly needs compliments and a person who constantly feels perfectly good about him/herself and yet feels happy when he/she gets an honest and sincere compliment from someone… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  18. 33 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 16:04

    @ Denise

    And the media always men out to be buffoons. In every sitcom, the men are portrayed as idiots, who can’t do anything right, and their wives or girlfriends are portrayed as the problem solvers. But men don’t go around thinking “wow, I must be an idiot because the media says I am one”…

    And if the media is portraying some impossible physical ideal, then nobody meets the standard, not even the models, so if you know it’s impossible, why would it affect how you think? Is it logical to aspire for something impossible?

  19. 34 Robz
    September 4, 2009 at 16:12

    I believe some of the issue is cultural,but most is based on sexual competition.
    Look at it from a biological point of view,all animals are attracted to mates by physical traits.
    As humans,we like to believe that we are above that because we have social structures through which we interact.
    The only way to change the behavior,is to change our DNA.
    Rob in Florida

  20. 35 Kate in Tampa, FL
    September 4, 2009 at 16:14

    Women cannot feel comfortable with their bodies because we are bombarded with images of what is considered female perfection. Pictures in the media are airbrushed and altered to remove any imperfections. These images are not reality but we are held up to them. Not even the models in these pictures look like the final product.

  21. 36 Ros Atkins
    September 4, 2009 at 16:14

    Here some emails that have straight to me after I sent out the Daily Email.

    Women can feel comfortable in their bodies when they aren’t perusing fashion magazines that feature impossibly thin women with allegedly flawless faces selling goods. Women can feel comfortable about our bodies when we are encouraged and supported in efforts to be strong and talented beyond the size of our hips and arse and breasts as a function of our worth in the world.

    Think about the media attention paid to the clothes worn by a smart and successful attorney who happens to be a woman married to the American president? The media outlets rarely mention any aspect of Obama’s (or most other male public figure’s) hair style, thin or fat bodies or skin. Cultural focus on physical appearance of women makes it a challenge for us to look past our corporeal selves as objects of beauty and remember to see our bodies as the vessels of our spirits and our souls.

    Lydia Nayo
    Oakland, CA.

    Dear World Have Your Say

    Women are probably not comfortable with their bodies, because modern society stresses the importance of their bodies, above their spiritual and mental capacities. This can be seen in different ways, from the size and power of the cosmetics and fashion industries, to the way that they are portrayed in films,

    Shouvik Datta.

    Women bodies are always sensitive and they too knows this fact but they tend to ignore, forgeting that fire wolks with the smoke wherever it goes. Mbalukuh Ibrahim, Malawi.

    Hello Ros,
    I think that inferiorty complex plays a very big role in this. There is always the next best thing, daily we are bombarded by adverts saying slimmer women look better and other adverts along that line. Repetition is the law of deep and lasting impression so as a result of this, some women starting feeling inferior and seek alternatives like surgery to make the comfortable with how they look. However, this doe not always satisfy them and they get caught in a vicious circle.
    Nelson in Nigeria

    September 4, 2009 at 16:15

    Sorry girls this is your own problem. Most men like natural ladies I know, even the models in these magazines are Airbrushed and altered to make them perfect, And you know this already so The obsession is all your own head.

    If it’s to get a bloke in your life try working on your personality and not be such a Narcissist.

  23. 38 anu_d
    September 4, 2009 at 16:15

    WHYS…how long are you going to flog an already dead donkey ?

    Every possible view on this subject has be rehashed several times over.

    N Korea is progressing with it’s nukes, 60 people gave their lives in the state of AP in India in sorrow of the death of their chief minsitser, Sep 11th anniversary is around the corner…….there are plenty of earthh shattering events…order of magnitude bigger waiting to be discussed.


    PS* Not surprisingly this comment will vanish becuse of the technology glitch for no fault of BBC

  24. 40 Jessica in NYC
    September 4, 2009 at 16:19


    It’s Russian roulette, part of the problem is the result of is society’s unrealistic standards of “one size fits all” and the other is women’s own doing. The bottom line is that women are judged by their physical appearance in every aspect of our lives. We can’t simply do a good job, we have to look good doing “it”–wheather it’s picking up the kids from soccer practice or running for president.

  25. 41 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 16:21

    Look at the next time there’s an awards ceremony like the Oscars. If you’ll notice, the media talks about what people are wearing, well, what the women are wearing. Honestly, who cares? Yet it gets tons of media attention, and women obsess about style and approval. Men (straight men) don’t care at all about what Demi Moore is wearing. Women obsess over it and it covers magazines and is on TV shows that i choose not to watch because it’s so shallow and makes me lose hope for humanity.

  26. 42 Jessica in NYC
    September 4, 2009 at 16:21

    Here is a short clip on an unscientific poll on curly hair vs straight hair, ship through the men’s criticisms in the being and see the section where job recruiters are interviewing the woman.

    It’s from ABC’s Good Morning America:
    Could Straightening Your Hair Change Your Life?
    (Couldn’t find it on GMA’s website, thank goodness for blogs.)

  27. 43 Jack
    September 4, 2009 at 16:21

    Yesterday, I made one entry: WHYS phoned this one in, which means I think that there are far more pressing issues and you folks on the show need to try harder. Models are overpaid clothes hangers–hence the diminutive name of the occupation. I have no problem with women making their living off their looks, but what rankles me is the white elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about: these women are not the perfect pictures of health, they’re (as a rule) freakishly skinny, belying an unhealthy fat-to-muscle ratio. If your dumb enough to let the media sell you your self-image–or anyone else’s for that matter–you pick again and again at a self-inflicted wound. I don’t believe this warrants a second day of discussion, but if your audience keeps coming back for more, why not?

  28. 45 Dave in Florida
    September 4, 2009 at 16:40

    The worst part is that those photos in the media are airbrushed and adjusted in other ways to make the model perfect. That perfection does not exist in reality and can not be achieved by anyone – not even the model herself.

  29. 46 Methusalem
    September 4, 2009 at 16:43

    If we human beings spend more time looking to our inner qualities than our body we wouldn’t have to worry about our looks.

  30. 47 Tony from Singapura
    September 4, 2009 at 16:49

    How many men have been asked by their wives…

    “Do I look fat in this dress”

    If you answer affirmative – you are in trouble, if you answer negative, you are also in trouble.

    This behavior is natural and programmed into female brains. We cant fix it no matter how much beer we drink.

  31. September 4, 2009 at 16:51

    Physically attractive women have always been in the spotlight. Femine beauty has always been extolled. So it comes as no surprise when so much of attention is paid to this subject. However it is important to realise that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Physical beauty along with inner beauty makes the person irresistible. Human beings will always make comparisons and that is human nature. We are not going to change that in a thousand years.

  32. 49 Linda from Italy
    September 4, 2009 at 16:54

    Of course women can feel comfortable in their own bodies, but it takes a lot of will power to ignore all that advertising and fear created that if we aren’t stick thin and look like a 14 year-old, we can’t be socially successful. All this “genetic” pop science is deeply suspect, we are a product of societies and communities we live, or have lived in, and to an extent it depends on our own personality, i.e. how much of a rebel we are.
    I’m not saying most of us don’t like looking good, at least when we go out on the town, or in my case village (!), but you have to judge yourself on your own terms and not obsess about it, life’s just too short. I know I look better with make-up on and my hair done, but that just isn’t relevant to going shopping or sitting in front of my computer working. I spent many years working in a field where I had to look good all the time, used to spend a fortune on clothes and all the rest, unlike my male colleagues in the same job I have to say, and one of my deepest joys now, working for myself at home, is that can sit here looking like a grubby scarecrow and it makes no difference to how my professional performance is judged, rather like radio presenters – pace Ros et al..
    If “bodyism” is to be combated along with all the other isms, we have to fight it actively, just like we feminists of the 70s thought we were doing when we burned our bras, rather sad how everything seems to have backwards since them.

  33. 50 Roseann In Houston
    September 4, 2009 at 17:11

    I am a 53 year old physically active, size 6 woman and I think I can look at this as objectively as any woman can. Blaming the media is like blaming the liquor stores for people getting drunk – women are the way they are and the media is just capitalizing on it. My theory: It is a fact that women are not as strong or fast as men, and historically a woman needed a man to protect her and hunt for her. A woman wanted to be with the strongest, fastest, best protector so she wanted that protector (man) to pick her over the other available women. Fat or thin, blond or dark, thin lips or full lips, huge breasts or flat (“Twiggy”) chests – women are not programmed to want to look a certain way, but they do want to best epitomize whatever physical quality that is in favor at any given time and geographical location. In other words, women have an inborn fear that, if another woman comes along who better embodies the favored physical ideal of the time, their protector will leave them and chose to protect the “better” woman.

    This is not logical, I know, in most countries a woman no longer needs a man to protect her. I am single again after 11 years and I live better, eat better, and save more when I take care of myself than when I am being “protected” by someone else. But even so I look at the woman walking past me in the grocery store aisle, the one with the defined upper arms or the one with perfect posture, and I think “Gosh, I need to get back to the gym!” – not because I want to look better than that woman so I can get her man, but because I am a woman and that’s how we are.

    Taken to extremes our need to always try to be better can be dangerous and as a teen the insecurity was horrible, but now that I am 53 years old I am glad for this inborn desire to always look better than I do now. Almost all the men my age don’t care anymore and are fat and slobby and out of shape – my womanly need to look good keeps me exercising and eating well.

  34. 51 Jennifer
    September 4, 2009 at 17:13

    How many men are happy to have a “trophy wife”?

    Yeah; and this is on women!


    • 52 Jack
      September 4, 2009 at 18:26


      Sure it’s about misogyny. To say it’s not is to deny the obvious. But to blame trophy wives solely on the men who have them? Are you saying that women never set out to marry that wealthy bachelor/divorcee?

      • 53 Jennifer
        September 4, 2009 at 19:28


        Of course some women do but I see a heck of a lot of blame being placed on women. That’s not right. If men want a woman who is more than a bimbo; they should start looking past physical attributes. Real women do not look like airbrushed women in magazines. So, we are all being shafted in this: women to think we should look that way and men to think that that’s what they should find attractive.

      • 54 SIMONinRio
        September 5, 2009 at 15:49

        Older man after 20 years of marriage leaves his wife and family and sets up shop with a 21 year old? Just another aspect of human nature. “trophy wife” is a most derogatory term for something so normal.Not pretty though

  35. 55 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 17:16

    @ Kelly
    Something tells me far more women get breast implants than men who have ball bearings put into their penises. I’ve never even heard of that before. I bet surgeries to transform humans into dolphins are more common than that.. Breast implants are common, men don’t like them, so women are getting them to compete with other women.

  36. 56 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 17:18

    @ Jennifer

    Given the divorce rate these days, the men who get “trophy wives” are financially able to meet the alimony payments he realizes is likely he’ll have to pay. not ever man is rich. How many women marry men just because of their job titles? It sickens me when women’s eyes light up when I say I’m a lawyer..

    • 57 Jennifer
      September 4, 2009 at 19:50

      Do you think men are willing to pay this money for having a pretty bimbo wife? It’s a trade off money for having a pretty significant other to make you look good and sex. What does the woman get? Status from a title or maybe equates sex with love? What I think people, men and women want, is to be loved for who they are as they are.

      People are superficial; it’s not just women. How many stay at home dads are there these days content to be at home while the wife works? Who would care about someone’s job title.

  37. 58 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 17:27

    I’m going to go grocery shopping either tonight or tomorrow, and you know at the checkout, they are stacked with “women’s magazines”, so I’ll get to see which celebrity has cellulite. It’s amazing how shallow people are, and that others care about these things that they buy and read such trash. But there’s a market for it, and that’s the worst part, they wouldn’t make these stupid magazines if people weren’t buying them. People need to choose to stop being so shallow and care about such stupid, gossipy things.

  38. 60 David
    September 4, 2009 at 17:28

    Personally I do not understand women. For that reason my comments would be biased.

    Why do we want to change the very body gave us?

  39. 61 David
    September 4, 2009 at 17:30

    Personally I do not understand women. For that reason my comments would be biased.

    Why do we want to change the very body God gave us?

    • September 4, 2009 at 18:08

      “Not understanding women” is a good reason for you to listen to this WHYS discussion, David. It is not a secret world, only a world that most men feel is not one that touches them… WRONG. Take a listen and see if you can step into the shoes that Western society has designed for women to walk in.

  40. 63 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 17:35

    I remember this one teacher at my high school who never worse the same outfit twice. I think it’s much more common in women for them to overly be concerned with what others think, basically because I think most women have low self esteem which causes them to seek attention and approval. They get into trends, are concerned about fashion and appearance, to an obsessional level. If I could wear the same clothes every day, I would. I simply don’t care about fashion. I almost wish we were required to wear uniforms.. I think so long as society doesn’t admit there is a massive self esteem problem among women, the problem is only going to get worse. we need to at least admit there’s a problem. Look at the magazines, listen to conversations about the most inane and shallow things. Living a life with low self esteem not only makes you miserable, but it makes everyone else around you miserable as well. Instead of worrying so much about impressing your “friends”, go do some volunteer work. There’s more to life than just you. This entire issue really is about how self absorbed people are.

    • September 4, 2009 at 18:05

      I think you are beginning to understand, Steve. The issue IS low self-esteem in a majority population (female) that has struggled for centuries to be accepted as equals. That women are now successful as mothers, lawyers, CEO’s, political leaders, etc., etc. while still suffering low self-esteem as fostered by air-brushed “ideals” is a tribute the resilience of women. How much better would the world be if the “air-brush” were discarded and reality liberated all of a woman’s abilities to tend the “real” issues in the world? This is a discussion that has never happened in a public forum because it is “a woman’s problem” and because it is “superficial”. Indeed, by your own evaluation, this woman’s problem touches us all and its impact is injurious to us all. It is time that we accept there is a problem, that it is an issue which impacts the happiness of both women and the men in their lives, and that the only way to liberate the full talents and energies of the majority of the world’s population is to discuss it openly.

  41. 65 Anthony
    September 4, 2009 at 17:43

    @ Tony from Singapura

    When she says, “Do I look fat in this dress?”

    You should answer, “No, you look fat out of the dress.”


    -Anthony, LA, CA

  42. 66 Sunil from Boston
    September 4, 2009 at 17:45

    I have women friends that skip breakfast and crash diet to the point of where they look weak and pale.

    I find that most modern women can never be happy with her body simply because the definition of what the perfect body should look like is so market driven by an illusioned fashion and entertainment industry and by the media scrutiny that celebrities get of their physical structure. You cant walk out of a grocery store anywhere these days without having a glimpse of the magazine that says “loose 20 pounds in 3 days”.

  43. 67 Linda from Italy
    September 4, 2009 at 17:51

    @ Roseann
    Please sweetie, it isn’t a “woman thing”, I’m 5 years older than you and I’m afraid I don’t EVER compare my muscles or rather lack of them to someone I glance in a shop, and I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to go to some gym and indulge in a lot of terminally tedious exercises just to get said muscles, would rather do something that keeps my mental physique in shape. By the way I’m quite fit and energetic through using a car as little as possible.
    We are not computers to be “programmed”, we are rational beings with a working intellect and these sort of attitudes just fuel male prejudice.

  44. September 4, 2009 at 17:52

    There is another aspect of this debate, and though it sounds “feminist”, it is grounded in history. In the 19th Century when women began to emerge as equal competitors with men, the Victorian fashion of whalebone stays in corsets pressed women’s rib-cages into physical distortions that had difficulty breathing (hence the tendency to swoon and faint). While men’s clothing permitted movement, women were layered with fabric that added 20+ pounds to what they needed to carry when they moved. The physical immobility of the 19th Century was discarded by women in the early 20th Century, only to be replaced by clothes designed to look good on very thin bodies, and the beginning of psychological manipulation of women took hold. Perhaps the 21st Century will mark the beginning of the era when women begin to take control of society’s tenets of “what is beautiful”… but the change can only happen with forums to open awareness like the one WHYS is providing.

  45. 69 Linda from Italy
    September 4, 2009 at 18:05

    @ Steve
    Have you no idea how women are judged on their appearance? Some jobs demand a certain dress code, but that code is so much more restrictive for women, not just suit and tie, but full make-up, high heels, well-coiffed hair, and the list goes on, we women are what we look like in the majority of societies, the goal posts have been moved for us and we need to shift them back.

    • 70 Barbara
      September 4, 2009 at 18:38

      I was never cute enough to work in department stores. I’d much rather be working with the public but found a niche in accounting where people are just looking at the numbers.

  46. 71 AJ
    September 4, 2009 at 18:15

    I think it’s really important to acknowledge that eating disorders have other causes and other origins than simply low self-esteem or inaccurate body perception. I am a highly educated, very ambitious, feminist who suffered from anorexia for 10 years, and I can say with certainty that while it was partly about body image, it was also an issue of *control*. Almost all of the ED women I know have a history of being unable to express themselves, unable particularly to express anger, and a difficulty saying “no” to others–the response is to take that anger and negative feelings out on themselves, to control the one thing available to them, their body.

  47. 72 Andrew in Australia
    September 4, 2009 at 18:16

    I am a psychologist and here is my take on this problem. Totally separate from the issue of feeling comfortable about yourself. My question is why does other people’s opinion matter so much to you in the first place? People you often don’t like, have nothing to do with, even complete strangers. If you are so obsessed about what others think about you then you will never be comfortable about your body no matter how much you may think you are. Moreover, why must anyone believe what the glossies and the tabloids tell YOU what is important. More often than not these magazines are written by people who either have vested interests in fashion and health gimmicks or make-up industry, or simply have no real foundation in reality to be making claims, assertions or statements of fact. Time to step back and say, maybe I need to think about this properly and come to my own decision once I have made some efforts to see what really matters in this world and this life.

  48. 73 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 18:16

    @ Linda

    I know of some dress codes, and women have much more freedoms than men do under the ones I’ve seen. I used to work as a cashier at a grocery store, women could wear anything they wanted, men had to wear shirts with ties.

  49. 74 mark from Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:16

    Ros, I strongly think this conversation should be QUALIFIED as a discussion based around the 20th century – western – caucasion world view…

    Now, that is NOT the same as blaming white people…or Eurocentrism…it is just necessary – in my view – to point out MANY MANY other cultures (even non-white western cultures) have a whole different point of view about what an attractive female is…

    The S. Asian lady (India or Pakistan) is simply reflecting her culture’s surrender to the remnants of their own colonial dominance…They also equate “lighter skin” with attractiveness…

    Please put this conversation in the contextual box it belongs in….


    September 4, 2009 at 18:19

    I just want to say ..Does my Bum look big on this Website? 🙂

  51. 76 Anthony
    September 4, 2009 at 18:20

    Lol @ Miss Kitty. Just because a woman says shes beautiful, doesn’t make her so. I can say I’m a good runner, or good poet, but just because I think I am, doesn’t make me do.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  52. 77 Andrew in Australia
    September 4, 2009 at 18:21

    What is that adage from Buddhism? Desire is the root of unhappiness.

    Makes sense more and more in this day and age when everyone and everything is telling you what you must have, what you must be, what you must do.

    Appearance is important to a degree, but as people who know something will tell you… moderation in everything is the key. Be attractive if you wish, do your best to acheive that goal, but why let the search for it ruin your life or drive you as much as it does. On the flip side, dont ultimately make an excuse and say.. well I am happy with this or that when it it is just that.. an excuse not to bother to do anything.

  53. 78 Kenneth Roberts
    September 4, 2009 at 18:22

    its pathetic that we cant understand that the pressure on looking “GOOD” is the cause of many modern day mental malfunction,. Surely a woman that is feeling uncomfortable in her own skin,.anorectic, bulimia, paranoia of any form which is fear of looking bad,. are modern ailments to which if we don’t stop with, media pressure, will just get more prolific. and even in years to come we will have even more complaints and ailments, Our children are pressured from the word go to be attractive, with attractiveness emphasized on the physical ,. I am Appalled at the fact that my grand children have at four and five pierced ear’s stick on tattoo’s and are dying there hair,. And to protest even to there parents they will not allow there kids to be children when they are children because they have to be like everyone else in school. even before school. so how can we expect these kids to grow without a complex of one sort or another,. and I must say it’s the mums that are the worst in wanting piercing,. make up even play makeup.,.
    Do you ever see young women late teenagers on th street without paint on there face ,. to such an extent that the human being is replaced by a comic book image of “sexy things” I live in Sweden and here the girl that gets out of bed in the morning is nothing like the girl off to work half an hour or so later! So what do we expect,. we are even bombarded on the internet with well formed painted ladies that personally speaking turn’s there intellect into the dumb blond syndrome., excuse my metaphor.

    • 79 Narda
      September 6, 2009 at 14:03

      Yes.it is true that the basis of this is in nature and is biological. Symmetrical faces and bodies, clear glowing skin, thick glossy hair, are attractive because they are indicative of health and good nutrition. Full breasts and rounded hips and backside on a woman indicates fertility, wide shoulders on a man indicate strength and fitness. And some of the fundamental things that we find unattractive – e.g. a lot of fat around the midsection, have a high correlation to ill health.

      However, cultural conditioning and the trends of the time adds another, dense layer. And this goes beyond differences in weight ideals. The female ideal in classical Greek art is not the same as Boticelli’s, is not the same as Holbein’s (or whoever that Dutch painter was that liked females with fat little chins), is not same as the Gibson Girl of the 1920s, is not the same as Marilyn Monroe, is not the same as a current “Playboy Bunny”. The female ideal in rural Kenya is different from that in urban Manhattan is different from that in that Burmese tribe that likes elongated necks.

  54. 80 Half-Not
    September 4, 2009 at 18:23

    This is not about the media, the economy or anything similar. It is about the unfortunate reality of human biology. That one can be prettier then another. From birth we can be at an advantage or a disadvantage just by our physical shape, structure, the architecture of a body. It is a terribly inequitable and poorly imagined world.

    Of course—we will be judged by the way we look. We all look don’t we? We look different from each other don’t we? Some are attractive to us. Others aren’t. How could we not be judged by this and still find others attractive or unattractive? Perhaps we don’t chose the quality or ability of our minds either. So if there is anything to judge us on, isn’t it all unfair? What a life.

    • 81 Kenneth Roberts
      September 4, 2009 at 18:43

      I cannot agree, even Leonardo De Vinci in his time was setting the standard of a pretty woman shape size, admittedly, his view. but in the media eye, people looked and thought he is the expert the Raphaelite,. all through time,. and now Vogue., I wonder what you would find attractive in a woman if you lived on a desert ,island without any media what so ever ,. would you follow the chiefs choice or would you have your own preference??

      • 82 Half-Not
        September 4, 2009 at 19:06

        That is simply not true. I am not talking about beauty as it relates to weight. I am talking about the beauty of the structure of the face. This is not just a subjective area. We may not be able to define beauty, but as BrianP points out, there seems to be a biological component that exists outside of subjectivity and familiarity and conditioning.

  55. 83 Dave in Florida
    September 4, 2009 at 18:24

    “How many men are happy to have a “trophy wife”?

    Yeah; and this is on women!


    Oh yes, of course. Just like everything else — it’s the fault of men. Blah, blah, blah… Is it any wonder men have stopped listening?

  56. 84 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 18:24

    As eleanor roosevelt famously said, which more women should actually take heed of, is that “nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

  57. 85 mark from Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:25

    Ros??? WHO’S version of attractiveness?

    This “skinny woman” thing didn’t start in the West until approximately the same time as the televison age!! That plus the HIGH FASHION industry which is based in NYC, Paris, Milan, Tokyo…. 3 out of 4 European.

    1 Asian…Do we need to talk about what the Japanese did to women in the name of beauty? What were those women…Geishas? bound feet, starvation diets…

    Look at the pics of Miss America BEFORE 1950! Then keep looking to now…

    Look at the Zigfeld Folly women from the 20’s & 30’s…they had curves…big curves….

    Only a dog wants a BONE!

  58. 86 Richard
    September 4, 2009 at 18:25

    This is not just a woman’s issue. Gay men also suffer from the same body over self-consciousness. Gay men objectify the objects of their affection as much as straight men. The ideal is: Young, thin, white or at least caucasion facial features. The causes seem to be deeply cultural and perhaps psychological. The prognosis for change–not good.

  59. 87 Anthony
    September 4, 2009 at 18:27


    Are you a baker? Because those buns look good ;). Hahahaha.

    Imagine the world if we only met your spouse online, no pictures and looks didn’t matter. I think it would prob be a better world.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  60. 88 Rosie
    September 4, 2009 at 18:31

    It seems to me that the obesity rate has been rising at about the same rate as the media’s obsession with perfect women. I’d be interested to know what people thought about this.

  61. 89 Chintan in Houston
    September 4, 2009 at 18:33

    I don’t believe this issue is gender based at all. Men are not happy with their body either, they are insecure of their height, their weight, their arm size, their jobs, the money they make, their penis size, their performance in bed, etc, etc.
    Isn’t self improvement a human phenomenon, you either do something to make you better, faster, smarter, richer, happier, younger or more beautiful usually, so why is feeling not happy with ones form such a bad thing.
    The day human being becomes content that is the end of mankind as we know it.
    And I hear comments like ‘real women’, so what are those women in magazines, they are real. What about those female athletes like Diana Torres who is so wonderfully fit at 40, she is almost on every fitness magazine and has written a book ‘Age is Just a Number’, she has Olympic medals to her name, is she not real?

  62. 90 Justine
    September 4, 2009 at 18:34

    I am a 37 year old woman. I have beel slightly overweight my whole life. I used to hate my body, However, I have found ways to appreciate my body. For example, I model for an art goup. The artist enjoy drawing me because I have curves. I find that doing things like this helps me to accept my body.

  63. 91 Half-Not
    September 4, 2009 at 18:34

    Why not have low self-esteem? Why not be angry? You wake up in a world of people who look better then others. People at birth are given an advantage. This is totally unfair. In all other aspects of life we strive for equality, yet at our base, the architecture of our body, our face, we are not equal.

    This aspect of life has always bothered me. Some of us are inherently doomed to failure and a life of low self-esteem at birth. The only remarkable thing is that there aren’t more problems. That the ugly don’t revolt against the pretty, saying: we have had enough of your bone structure. We are tired of your waifiness. We are tired of your symmetrical faces. We are sick of your perfect proportions. We want to be like you and we can’t!

    It is only normal for women (and men) to be terribly unhappy about their situation in the world. This inequity is built in a birth.

  64. 92 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 18:34

    Notice that you have to watch your words so they women don’t have to feel bad? Ros was harassed for saying fat, instead of a skin, so that someone’s feelings wouldn’t be hurt. It’s also why it’s considered “rude” to ask a woman her age, but isn’t rude to ask a man’s age. It’s bending over to accomodate someone else’s insecurities, and it only adds to the problems.

    • 93 Half-Not
      September 4, 2009 at 19:03

      That is called being polite. You do the same for men, when discussing erectile problems and male pattern baldness.

      • 94 Tom K in Mpls
        September 6, 2009 at 02:55

        I call it being Politically Correct. I hate it. Maybe that is why so few people want to get to know me, but those that do genuinely trust and respect me. It works for me.

  65. 95 Kareen
    September 4, 2009 at 18:34

    Hi Ross, i’m Jamaican and i do not subscribe to the “fluffy diva” ideal for the reason that my discomfort with my body is not because of men, or women but because of fashion! Skinny jeans do not look as good on thicker thighs as they do on slimmer legs.

  66. 96 Keith- Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:34

    One other point:

    Maybe thin models are always featured because every woman is trying desperately to be thin. Obviously the “model” woman would be created by what every woman compares herself to and strives to be. If women become more confident in their own body type, hair color, eye color, etc, then maybe the cycle would stop perpetuating itself.

    Men are all over these forums saying “we like curvy girls! We like all hair colors!”…etc. But women just won’t have it. Apparently we all like blonde, blue-eyed twigs, and that’s ALL we like! What do we know, right?

  67. 97 Barbara
    September 4, 2009 at 18:35

    Public Broadcasting aired a show a few years ago about what humans percieve as beauty including symmetry and ratios. It seems there is some universal measures that elicit variable responses. A certain part of our brains are wired to react a certain way to visual clues. I’ve always been thin, have a good mine and work on my appearance but that has not had guys beating a pass to my door.

  68. 98 Paige in Oregon
    September 4, 2009 at 18:35


    Whenever I am feeling discontent about my body, there are a few things I do to remind myself I am beautiful.

    I put away the pictures of myself when I was 21. I pull out pictures of beautiful unconvetional women such as Lizzie Miller, or the plus sized model Crystal Renn. I have a comic book with a pinup type main character who is voluptious. I look at beautiful ethnic women with big beautiful booties, or pictures of the distinct Frida Kahlo, or pictures of old wrinkled women in Annie Leibovitz type photos.

    If you introduce other beautiful images into your psyche, some variety in beauty, you may see your own unique charm.

    Best of luck to you beautiful women!

  69. 99 BrianP
    September 4, 2009 at 18:36

    Women have been fixated with their beauty for millennia. Read about the history of makeup. It goes back to the dawn of time. It starts with the burst of female hormones leading to puberty. It has happened in every part of the world and is, therefore, not a product of the beauty industry.

    The more beautiful a woman is, the more men she has to choose from as a progenitor for her offspring. Recent research has shown that beauty is highly inheritable with babes having more children than plain Janes and have many more girls than usual. The more money a man makes, the more beautiful his wife is likely to be and the younger relative to him.

    Read about “The Biology of Beauty”. Even babies prefer to look at pictures of beautiful women rather than ugly ones so it is genetically imprinted. Female humans are mutated for beauty in exactly the same way male peacocks are as a result of sexual selection which Charles Darwin discovered. Female scorpion flies show a distinct preference for symmetrical males. Men all over the planet universally select a 0.7:1 waste to hip ratio when asked to select the most appealing shape from a selection of varying ratios.

    The scientific research is clear and convincing that “attractiveness certifies biological quality.” The feminist dogma that beauty is used by mean old men to oppress women is hogwash.

    Austin, TX

    • 100 SIMONinRio
      September 5, 2009 at 16:53

      The more money a man makes, the more beautiful his wife is likely to be and the younger relative to him. = A universal truth. It does not negate oppression theories though and mankind has been evolving in male-dominated groups since before homo sapiens existed. Perhaps over the next few centuries, the sex holding all the cards will become more assertive. It would then be interesting to compare women´s attitudes to their bodies after several centuries of women´s lib with now. Maybe historians will be studying these very blogs to examine early 21st century mores.

  70. 101 Reverned LMF McCormack
    September 4, 2009 at 18:36

    Why can’t we women be be happy with our bodies? I think the answer for most comes from the fashion industry. The standard seems be a 2 metre, size 4 hanger. If you don’t meet this , you’re ugly, fat, stupid, lazy, etc. Yet 98% of the women in the world DO NOT and CANNOT fit this without taking extreme and dangerous measures. Until the standard changes, this will ever be so.

    As for me, I am quite happy and comfortable in my own skin. I am not 14, blonde,a size 4 or 2 metres tall. I am nearly fifty, have more silver than dark brown in my hair, am a variety of sizes that averages 12, am somewht under 2 metres height. I am not fat but have put a few pounds over the past couple of years due to enforced inactivity from arthritis. I am a happy,beatiful, middleaged lady who knows who she is and what she is about.
    I have actually heard people say that though I am by no means a classic beauty ( what ever that is ) there is something about me that is remarkably attractive. I think this is because I like myself and my appearance. I have also been told the most beautiful thing about me is how I approach a plate of food: I eat it , with relish and true enjoyment instead of picking at it and being neurotic about how many claories is in this dish or or how fat I’m going to be if I even think about smelling ( nevermind tasting ) that dish.
    Bottom line, beauty is not the fashion industry, it is a healthy woman who is confident in herself and who enjoys life to the fullest.

  71. 102 Roberto
    September 4, 2009 at 18:39

    RE “” You don’t see men sticking foreign objects into their bodies to compete with other men. It’s time to accept responsibility. “”

    —————– Must take issue with this misbegotten belief.

    Men in America and doubtless in most of the western world responsible for the massive illicit trafficking of steroids and other PEDs in the never ending quest for physical domination.

    Ruined Baseball and Olympic sports as well as American Football which couldn’t do poorer job in screening athletes for drug use without declaring bankruptcy.

    I’ve seen the internet ads and gotten the spam in my email promising “male enhancement implants” to improve my love life. At a boxing matching match
    sitting in press row to report the results of the matches, I overheard the phalanx of security guys behind me brag on and compare their implants.

    Men are the new growth market for plastic surgeons as they strive to better the ideal look for the corporate world of sharks they compete in.

    Time to check the calender date and update your world. We are all, men and women are targets of an insidious campaign that plays on our job and personal insecurities.

  72. 103 Jitan C (NYC)
    September 4, 2009 at 18:39

    I want to ask Nadeen about what exactly does her daughter eat?

    Also since she is trying to come up with her regime, she herself must b a smoking bombshell? is this the case – if not then how does she know that starving is the solution to all!

  73. 104 Sabina
    September 4, 2009 at 18:39

    There is no sole cause of eating disorders – there are countless reasons women start wars with their bodies.
    I had never bought a fashion magazine in my life, and never thought the women in the magazines were beautiful. I still developed clinical anorexia at age 15 and fought it for years.
    What women need are positive role models, women who are strong forces in their families, in their communities, in their nations, who come in all shapes and sizes who are respected for their work, not their bodies. But women around the world are not respected for what they contribute, what they build.
    It was working with strong women farmers who provided for their families who I respected and came in all shapes and sizes that pulled me out of dangerous levels of anorexia.
    And women need to respect each other for being the backbones of the world, otherwise we will continue to be judged by our stomachs by the rest of the world.

  74. 105 Naomi
    September 4, 2009 at 18:40

    I am 17. Nearly two years ago, I shaved my head to explore why hair is intrinsic to how society perceives women, why it is so important to the “feminine identity.” My family though I was going to be eaten alive by high school culture. But never once did I hear a single negative comment. Though that didn’t deal with body weight, I think I learned something universal about women in modern society– enough confidence can make others see you in absolutely any light you wish.

    -Naomi, Bend, OR

  75. 106 CJ in Canada
    September 4, 2009 at 18:40

    The very fact that this discussion in even happening serves to show just how vacuous so many societies have become in 2009.

  76. 107 al
    September 4, 2009 at 18:40

    come on im sure allot of the same folks who are upset that it is a small box of what is accepted by society weight,looks wise are the same folks who prop up discrimination,i ask any of you guys who moan what would you think of gays being shown in your advertisements/magazines?

  77. 108 Reverned LMF McCormack
    September 4, 2009 at 18:43

    Ros, bless you, I’m a woman!

  78. 109 Rosie in Portland
    September 4, 2009 at 18:43

    Parents need to be extremely careful about how they deal with a child that overeats. Often, this is something the child will grow out of, but if the parents become too fixated on it, it becomes the primary image the child will have about themselves, and it is likely that they will become what their parents feared. My parents told me that if I was fat no boys would like me, and this is an image of myself that I’m still struggling to let go of.

  79. 110 Linda from Italy
    September 4, 2009 at 18:43

    Most normal, happy kids, don’t stuff themselves silly, they eat what they need. Fat kids are the result of unhealthy diets, snack foods laden with fat and sugar, fizzy drinks and ALSO the result of the lack of emotional support that makes them secure in themselves, without forcing them to be “pretty” – whatever that means.
    Bravo Miss Kitty, love you,
    Fluffy Linda

  80. 111 WJ
    September 4, 2009 at 18:43

    Women are unwilling to confront the sources of their misinformation about their bodies as well as much more (as too often we all are) and admit that their families and friends were not loving in passing these biases on.

  81. 112 EchoRose
    September 4, 2009 at 18:43

    Take a look at where it starts here in America…watch the TV show Toddlers and Tiaras… do you have anything culturally like this in the U.K. or anywhere else for that matter?

  82. 113 Melissa C.
    September 4, 2009 at 18:44

    Yes, magazines will take every photo before they publish it and photoshop it to look nothing like the original print. However, as observers of the media we must be aware of this and be cautious to consider anything a “reality”.
    Instead of focusing on what type of body shape and size women should have, we should be focused on the health and well-being of individuals. As we raise our kids, we need to instill positive images and confidence, and let our kids know that being HEALTHY is what is important, that you should exercise and eat appropriate foods, and as long as you feel good and take care of yourself then you should be proud, no matter what shape or size of body you do have.

  83. 114 Meg in Portland, OR
    September 4, 2009 at 18:47

    I think it is valid to teach our children about being healthy without any word about being “fat”. It is a parent’s responisibility that our child lead active, healthy lives, but there is no need to address the weight issue. We can take them to the park, go on walks, feed them healthy foods, limit sugar etc.

    Furthermore, the women displayed in magazines are not healthy. Healthy bodies are what we should be going for in society. I have seen plenty of women in 3rd world countries who have the “ideal” body image but would give anything to have enough food to make themselves “fluffy”. We need to remember that!

  84. 115 Keith- Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:47

    Also- I defend Nadine. Fitness and proper diet should be encouraged, particularly in children, when lifestyle habits are created. Obesity can be partially caused by genetics, but mostly by lifestyle habits. Nadine isn’t putting her daughter in pageants, she isn’t encouraging her to be a twig. She’s trying to teach her that frequently eating for pleasure is an unhealthy way to live! Encouraging health is nothing to be ashamed of.

  85. 116 mark from Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 18:50

    No No No….The Indian Woman: From a former British colony…and a society that values Eurocentric ideals and has incorporated many of then into their own societal norms…

    This is an essential contextual fact…

    Global media outlets (until VERY recently), have been nearly TOTALLY dominated by Western – Cuacasoids….This is an important historical fact to realize when trying to come to grips with how we get to where we are…

    The Fashion industry is still very very heavily dominated by white folks. That matters.

  86. 117 Claudia de la Fuente
    September 4, 2009 at 18:50

    Hello, I’m from Mexico, in countries like mine, the women appearence, especially the fact of looking thin is also realated with certain economical level. Wealthy women are more under social pression (by other women) to be fit, and thus, the fact of being skinny sometimes take an identity’s roll, meaning that some women want to be thiner in order to be accepted in higher economical-level groups.

  87. 118 Archibald
    September 4, 2009 at 18:52

    Image and the creation of it is all about control and obedience to the norm. The fact that this discussion is even happening is exactly what those, oh so much more advantaged want; You focused on everything else, but, what is happening everywhere else. There would be no time nor care for this sort of speculation if people were living life and not speculating on the causes of poor body image, sexism and the drama that has been manufactured by television, magazines ad the fashion industry.
    Try NOT reading that schlock glamour rag, NOT watching pointless fashion programming, and NOT being concerned with Mr. and Mrs. Jones for a solid month and see if you feel any better, by virtue of developing YOUR OWN opinion about yourself and those around you, rather than sheepishly complying with the abhorrent group mentality that seems, sadly, to drive much of the world. We are all as great as we envision ourselves to be, and it is nothing to do with success.

  88. 119 Muriel
    September 4, 2009 at 18:56

    Being thin or being fat is a fad. It depends on the century. Sometimes being fat is in style, sometimes being thin is in style. I think women are beautiful at all sizes. I do tell my son what food is good for his body, and what food is bad. But I would never talk to him about his size. We need to let go of all this judgment.

  89. September 4, 2009 at 18:56

    Some of the comments are a little antiquated in my opinion. Thick is in, atleast in the U.S.. Beyonce, J-Lo; need I say more. Now there is a traditional standard of beauty like Angelina Jolie etc. But fuller figured women are increasingly seen as attractive, particularly in the ‘black’ and ‘brown’ sub-cultures.

  90. 121 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 18:58

    I have a hard to believing the guest who says she stopped eating out of guilt for others in the world. If that were the case, did she also live in a house with heating/ac and have a car? Many people cannot afford shelter or even cars, did she give that up? I doubt it. I think she’s not being truthful with her reason for not eating food.

  91. 122 Paul
    September 4, 2009 at 19:00

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Overweight women can shout all they want about how beautiful their heavier bodies are, but they won’t attract the average male who is attracted by fit women. Overweight people regardless of obesity run higher health risks for diseases including hypertension to heart disease. Perhaps there is an evolutionary reason men are attracted to thinner “fit” women..

  92. 123 Keith- Ohio
    September 4, 2009 at 19:00

    Mary- way to end the show with the perfect point of view. Be healthy, be active, and whatever happens, be comfortable in your body and the knowledge that you are doing what you can for your health.

  93. 124 Tom D Ford
    September 4, 2009 at 19:00

    Good show WHYS!

  94. 125 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 19:02

    On a daily basis I see very overweight women with in shape men. It’s basically women weigh more than men, despite being shorter. So if there’s all this pressure for women to be thin, they seem to be gaining more and more weight. I think that men are far more forgiving of woman of physical flaws than women are. Women seem to be much pickier than men as well.

  95. 126 Tom D Ford
    September 4, 2009 at 19:04

    What happens in countries with arranged marriages? Then the competition and advertising wouldn’t matter would it?

  96. 127 Carrie
    September 4, 2009 at 19:06

    I am responding to a question of whether or not our children of five years of age should be made aware of their bodies being fat, or that they are eating too much.

    My answer is no. At five years a parent is pretty much in charge of what that child is eating(or should be). If they are doing a good job feeding that child healthy food and making sure that they get exercise there should not be a problem with weight. They are five, even if they do not end up being the thinnest child on the playground who cares? Making a five year old aware of their size is like prepping them for anorexia. I believe in teaching about what is healthy, living by example, and suggest not reading so many magazines (which are shaping our culture in an unappealing way).

    • 128 Keith- Ohio
      September 4, 2009 at 19:27

      I disagree. Children steal cookies from the cookie jar, they eat their Halloween candy all in one sitting, you don’t think it’s reasonable to tell them that it is unhealthy to do that, or to teach them about healthy portions / healthy food? You don’t need to criticize their weight. They’re learning all the time, why not learn about a fundamental factor that affects their health? You tell them to drink milk to get big and strong! Curious George teaches children about “reading the label” on food items. Sesame Street teaches children about “sometimes” foods, like cake and ice cream.

  97. 129 gary
    September 4, 2009 at 19:17

    I am not sure this post should appear on the blog and I won’t be offended if it doesn’t; but your question “Are we getting it right?” intrigued me. I think you folks are doing an excellent job. However, you (and I) are members of a species I believe to be doing a really crappy job of “getting it right.”
    The functional unit for any gendered species is a couple consisting of male and female. Even though humans are not naturally monandrous or monogamous, they do form couples and have offspring, the most successful rearing of which requires both parents acting in concert. The best way to insure that this happens is if coupled partners engage in enjoyably intimate activity, yet education in the physical methodology, emotionally significance, and partner supportive techniques of sexual intercourse are practically nonexistent. Humankind confounds this failure by treating half the population (in general or specifically, but mostly because of the women’s perceived sexual role) as inferior. These failures set the pattern for much of our “not getting it right.” Women and men are locked into the same trap. Getting and keeping a sexually competent partner is both our dream and the best way to produce functional members of society, yet we treat most everything surrounding it as embarrassing, as inconvenient necessity, as bullying opportunity, or as sin. And, here is a big round “NO” to those men who imagine women’s visions of their bodies is solely their fault. A societal dysfunction is responsible and men are part of it. How shall more complex issues be correctly handled if we don’t get the fun bits correct?

  98. 130 Anya
    September 4, 2009 at 19:20

    There has been a lot of talk about standards of beauty in the societies. I hoped to hear a bit more discussion about the value of beauty. How important and why is it important to be perceived beautiful?
    I think most people would agree that saying that looks don’t matter is disingenuous, but the way I deal with the pressure on women to look good is to remind myself that other qualities are more important.
    The people in my life who love me and value me, including my husband, appreciate me for my personality. Before I was married I did not want to make an effort to make myself look better because I didn’t want guys to ask me out for superficial reasons.
    When I become a mother I hope to teach my children to value the relationships in their lives based on something more tangible and lasting than beauty.

  99. 131 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 19:21

    If you need concrete examples, here’s one. My friend’s wife, who is really cool, but when she’s out in public, and there are attractive women, she gets all defensive and starts saying things like “I bet she has an eating disorder” or “those boobs are fake”. I always see this sort of competition that women have with each other. And I’ve always noticed that the few genuine female-female friendships that younger women have are only among an attractive woman, and a much less attractive women, neither views the other as a potential competitor, so they have better friendships with less backstabbing, etc.. When i was in college, I was absolutley amazed at horribly women treated their so-called friends of the same sex.

  100. 132 steve
    September 4, 2009 at 19:46

    Also, how many mothers like to take their daughters shopping, thus passing on that characteristic? When you get into clothes and fashion, you become shallow. So even parents are passing this off to their kids. I view “shopping” as a necessary evil when I need something.

  101. September 4, 2009 at 20:01

    ” But she went on argue that it’s not their fault as society has conditioned them to do it. Is that fair? ”

    I beg to disagree. It’s not the society but the brain of man is conditioned to appreciate woman in a particular manner.

    And for survival the woman behaves in like manner.

    It’s all ”nature”.

    Artificial uplift and scoop out are not natural to be quoted as general behavior. They are exceptions and not worthy of submission here, please..

  102. 134 Raymond
    September 4, 2009 at 20:16

    All women eventually fall for the hype about the “beautiful” woman. They may hide out in (categoric and emphatic) denial for some time. But when they go out to get clothes, they won’t shop as intelligent women that they may be. THey will shop as competeing women that want to show each other up.

    You’ll never see a plain woman dressing down. You will see a pretty one do so.

    In Africa it is good for a woman not to look emaciated but more and more we find that the obese woman loses her mans attention to the more fit and nimble looking one. Any normal man would want a “hot mama” as opposed to a “big mama”

  103. 135 Naomi in Portland
    September 4, 2009 at 21:22

    Thank goodness my Mom and Dad never told me “Stop eating or you will get fat!” I surely would have been depressed and confused at to what is important in life. I was known to eat thirds and fourths at the dinner table and have not become overweight because of it. Of course my Mom would tell me not to eat so many sweets, but not because I would get fat, but because they aren’t healthy. If we feed our kids healthy food- they won’t overeat. I rarely feed my kid junk food and I rarely eat it myself(example counts) He is only 2 and sometimes I think he eats more than me. He is a growing boy. Children who are growing should not be told to eat less if what they are being feed is healthy. Also maintaining an active lifestyle is key to a thin body and happy life. My siblings, parents, and I are all thin and healthy. We use common sense, like it’s not good to eat fast food and to eat a bag of chips and we exercise. We were taught by good parents about taking care of our bodies. When I was around 15 or 16 I got a little fat roll and I started running every morning and reduced my ice cream intake. It went away fast.

  104. 136 Jack
    September 4, 2009 at 21:42

    @ Jennifer,

    And “real” men: Do they indulge in the trophy wife, or do they stick it out through the good times and the bad, sickness and health, fat & thin, etc.? Not the Prince Charmings in fairy tales–that’s too far above our pay grade. But has it never occurred to you that the Trumps and the Bonos of this world are a poor representation of what men really are? Has it never occurred to you that men are no more easily defined by antiquated gender stereotypes than women?

    • 137 Jennifer
      September 7, 2009 at 14:36


      You tell me!

      Many men would settle for an airheaded attractive bimbo over a thoughtful, regular looking woman because that’s what they consider important.

  105. 138 Keino
    September 4, 2009 at 22:11

    Women will never be comfortable with their bodies unless sexism is eradicated. The whole point of women wanting to look great came from some women using good looks to get ahead of other women in the workforce. For most men, at least where I am from from, they are satisfied the way their girlfriends or wives look. i think most women don’t necessarily want to look good for their partner but for other men to find them more attractive than the other woman.

  106. 139 Listener
    September 5, 2009 at 05:06

    The mystery of the human nature.

  107. September 5, 2009 at 06:23

    I think that having a good self image can be learned. Sarah Maria, author of “Love Your Body, Love Your Life,” teaches a 5-step program on how to do this. It has done wonders to my self-esteem.

  108. September 5, 2009 at 08:54

    Women seductivity is more known than men seductivity and it is because women have a beautiful body perfection.While men appear to be aggressive and violent in their body, women appear to be smooth and sensuous.Women for that matter need not have any inferiority complex.

  109. 142 St. Louis
    September 5, 2009 at 08:56

    I want to begin by saying – I am comfortable! (and a woman). I see a lot of the behavior discussed above around me (although sometime opposite desires in different places; when I lived in Thailand the women aspired to be stick thin except for medium sized chests and light skinned, here in the US urban women try for hourglass figures and medium-toned skin) but it doesn’t make me hate myself at all… I think a point that should be made is that many women (maybe most?) feel inferior to men on some level, which is why men continue to hold most of the power in the world (upper level positions, government, etc.) and why women continue to aspire to men’s ideals of what women should be. If it were viable for women to attain the kind of money and prestige that men do through athletics, for instance, we would see a lot of women built very differently. As it stands, though women are not less strong than men physically (when compared at equal weights and physical conditions women have a stronger lower body and men a stronger upper) we don’t see NFL-sized women often because every woman knows how difficult life would be in most countries if men didn’t find her approachable – in job interviews, applying for an apartment, taking her kids to sports practice, etc., as well as in a loving or intimate relationship. It will change, but it will take time. Until then, unplug, disengage from the stressful superficiality and enjoy the things that really make you happy – that’s what makes you beautiful anyway, male or female!

  110. September 5, 2009 at 09:38

    if these things are happening in USA,then the recession is over and now they want good looking chicks and not those with pots.
    as for me,as long as the port wont change the shape of a foetus,it doesnt matter.


  111. September 5, 2009 at 13:14

    I think the reason of that is women are more adopted to survive! This was the burden laid on them by Mother “nature” othrwise we could not have survived. I know this might hurt or offend some feminists, but what we have to know is that keeping man inside her hut for her service, has been the biggest task for woman throughout the history. While men live easily, move easily and die easily!

  112. 145 Michelyn
    September 5, 2009 at 13:17

    Because we never realize how good we have it until we lose it!

    When I was size 10 I thought I was fat. Now I am size 16 I am struggling to get back to size 14.

  113. September 5, 2009 at 13:43

    Because she’s not happy with her mind and can’t solve it.

  114. 147 steve
    September 5, 2009 at 16:30


    This is on the FRONT PAGE of the washington post today…..

    Sorry, but males at no point of life are this shallow. Who is teaching this to girls? Are people going to blame the magazines, how about the parents?

  115. September 5, 2009 at 22:21

    if women/men did not buy those cosmopolitan/maxim type magazines to look for what is HOT these days, who would??? what other magazines or images would be out there???

    the more you buy those magazines the more you support that business and image it portrays which in result deviates more of mens/womens minds in the long run

    every time you take your money out of your pocket and dish it out habitually on a object, whatever it may be, that perpetuates a certain ideal or look that goes with the object in your mind and the mind of others, therefore you are in a big sense supporting this huge cycle

    so the blame is never on just one individual, one source, one sex, it is always our responsibility to make the right choices, it is also up to us to make it a priority to be mindful when we do make small or big choices, this sounds so easily said, yet it is harder to do and stick to it

    instead of buying or copying who you want to be, how you want to be perceived


    and the you will change the world

    what are you waiting for?? a advertisement to tell you to do it? 🙂

  116. 149 Pierre-Ange
    September 6, 2009 at 06:42

    I think that women are unhappy with their body because they don’t know what it is capable of. Recently, my car broke down during one month, and I had to cycle to go to work. Curiously, I started to get more looks from men, despite the fact that I would not wear makeup, sexy dresses and stilettoes while cycling. At work, I got compliments from male colleagues that would otherwise not care about me : they were admirative because I could cycle twenty miles to come to work everyday. I don’t think I would have had such success with a new hairdo or even with a new car. And I have to admit that it made me a lot more confident and happier than I used to be. Plus, I saved a lot of money because I did not buy as much fuel for my car.

  117. 150 Tracy
    September 6, 2009 at 07:18

    Women are used to being treated like objects by society. They are either playthings for sex or walking incubators for babies.

    What most women want is a comfortable home where they are valued as people and not as bodies. Most pregnant women (whether they want the child or not) are not given much control over their own body. A woman does not get the right to decide if she can abort or not, her body is regulated by abortion laws, medical councils, politicians, priests.

    Then there are social and religious taboos over a woman’s body- what she can and cannot wear, where she can go safely. Women are expected to ‘keep up appearances’ according to codes represented by hollywood and women’s magazines. If a woman puts on weight (and is not pregnant) that is very bad and shows she has no self control or pride- if she is pregnant, then that’s okay- the more she eats the better.

    Women need to push for more control over their fertility and the ability for babies to be ‘carried’ in tanks. Then maybe more women will be seen as people.

  118. 151 Tracy
    September 6, 2009 at 07:42

    Another thing, get a group of 20 women at random. You will find cases of unreported rape, unwanted pregnancy, sexual abuse as children, being assaulted by a partner, drug abuse (including alcoholism), mental health issues (including eating disorders)… it goes on and on.

    Which goes to suggest that women are not safe, are not happy, and are hiding these things from everyone else. Women are expected to smile and ‘get on with it’ while being beautiful, elegant and sexy (but not too sexy), be intelligent (but not too intelligent), eat (but not too much), be maternal (but only if they are married), be competent (but not more than a man doing the same thing), be hard working (more than any man and for less pay).

    And we ask why women have image issues!!

  119. 152 sslj
    September 7, 2009 at 13:19

    we’ve a saying in our country ” even the GOD doesn’t know what a woman thinks or wants” so i guess a woman is never happy even her body is like that of the girl next door.

  120. 153 AnarchyJack
    September 7, 2009 at 20:46

    @ Jennifer,

    Let’s agree to call reproductive selection based on looks “superficial selection.”

    I can’t speak for the so-called “Alpha male” or his feminine counterpart, the air-headed bimbo, but I can tell you this: they deserve each other. Overall, cheeleader/model types disgust me; beauty being only skin deep, I find they are the antithesis of attractiveness, showing behavioral traits that can only be defined as grotesque. You may not have been aware of it, but there are a lot of us who refuse to participate in superficial selection, leaving it to the Alphas and the moronic Beta types, without whom, it wouldn’t be possible. I am amused at how even males that fall into the category of “loser” socially, line up to prostrate themselves on the alter of the feminine beauty paradox.

    Trophies are for men and women stuck on the idea that everyone else has to want what they have. Everything is commodified, objectified and put on display. I say, let them have it; let them have their expensive divorces, their fights over estate and their lifestyles of serial monogamy. There’s no rule that says I have to participate in their shallow, transparent little game.

    Frankly, there are no victims of superficial selection, only volunteers.

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