chapter  3
33 Pages

Women and body satisfaction

Slimness is seen as a desirable attribute for women in prosperous Western cultures, and is associated with self-control, elegance, social attractiveness and youth (Orbach, 1993). The ideal female shape is epitomised in the slim but full-breasted figures of models Elle MacPherson, Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer. Chapter 2 showed how body shape ideals for women have changed this century. Despite changes in the feminine ideal, one thing remains constant through the decades. Women have always been encouraged to change their shape and weight to conform to current trends. Through the ages, women have undergone pain to attempt to conform to the current ideal. This is clearest in relation to procedures such as foot binding and the wearing of restrictive corsets, where women suffered discomfort and immobility in the name of particular fashions. In Western society in the 1990s we have replaced these practices with strict diets (which weaken and debilitate) and cosmetic plastic surgery (where women undergo painful procedures to try to attain culturally-defined attractive body shapes).