All Are Unhappy!
A street survey Reader’s Digest did in Mumbai last year proved a few things: That healthy middle-class Indians are usually overweight, and most of them would like to be thinner. But poorer people didn’t like being thin. “If I looked thin, my friends and family will think I’m unhealthy and not doing well,” one stocky parking attendant in Mumbai told us. So the well-to-do want to be thin, while the less fortunate want to be plump.
Society’s obsession with the female figure took hold in the 1920s when women stepped out of their corsets, lifted their hemlines and kicked up their newly tanned legs. The cosmetics, fashion and film industries locked their focus on the female form, where it has remained ever since.
It wasn’t until the ’60s, however, that the hourglass-shaped film sirens of the ’50s were replaced by doe-eyed girls with super-thin Twiggy proportions. Thin became fashionable and female icons have been downsizing ever since.
In the ’70s, a healthy glow and supple body were essential: Bo Derek and Christie Brinkley were typical of the sexy girl-next-door look, and Farrah Fawcett was the sexiest of them all. The 1976 poster of her in a red swimsuit remains an iconic image of the decade.
In 1981, Olivia Newton-John suggested we get Physical; a year later, a 44-year-old Jane Fonda rose phoenix-like from the ashes of her film career to suggest we go for “the burn”—burn calories.
The 1990s started with the glamazons Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista and ended with waifs Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd baring their bony bods for big money.
In the past decade, we’ve seen many women shrink. In 2000 the British Medical Association noted models and actresses have just 10 to 15 percent body fat (22 to 26 percent is considered healthy). No wonder celebrities are painfully thin—weekly magazines monitor their sizes with frenzied glee; admonishing them in equal measure for weight gains and losses.
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