The Blog

The Soft Body Is on the Rise!

The results of this survey shed a little optimism on all the gloom. They suggest that women generally have a healthy view of beauty and don't aspire to the super-slimline frames that verge on the unhealthy.

Arguably somewhat surprisingly, women prefer a fuller figure - a 'soft body' - to the stick thin size 0 models seen so ubiquitously on the catwalks and in magazines.

A survey commissioned by high-street retailer New Look questioned 2,000 women between 18 and 65. It gave a list of 20 women with varied body shapes, including Beyonce, Jessica Ennis, Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss and Katie Price and asked respondents to rate which they believe to be the ideal body shape. The two ladies at the top of the list had far more votes than the lady in third, and both are famous for their voluptuous frames.

Holly Willoughby stole the show with 33.5% of women rating her body as ideal, while Kelly Brook came a close second with 31%. Kate Middleton had the third highest number of votes, with 18.3%. Kate Moss and Keira Knightley, both well-known as having slight, 'banana shaped' bodies, came way down in 9th and 10th place, with 4.9% and 4.8% respectively, while Beyonce's body won the admiration of a bootylicious 15.15%.

Now numbers may not be to everyone's taste but this is all really rather exciting. We're always hearing about how women have unhealthy perceptions of body shape. Fashion magazines and adverts, it's common knowledge, bombard us with images of unfeasibly slender ladies languishing luxuriously on chaises longues, all cheekbones and collarbones. It's bound to have a detrimental effect, right? Eating disorders are on the rise and ridiculous trends like the thigh gap keep cropping up.

It's all so avoidable and so sad. A smart man (it was Mark Twain) once said: "Comparison is the death of joy".

But the results of this survey shed a little optimism on all the gloom. They suggest that women generally have a healthy view of beauty and don't aspire to the super-slimline frames that verge on the unhealthy.

Perhaps it's a result of the fantastic publicity that's been made around body image. Dove have been campaigning for real beauty since 2004, the YMCA have worked closely with the government to tackle society's obsession with body image ideals and Jo Swinson MP has crusaded for the past couple of years to help bring attention to the ills that obsessing about body image can cause.

As the junior equalities minister has said, "There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance and wanting to look good. But it's become so normal for people to worry about what they look like that it's become easy to ignore the real and damaging impact it can have."

Lady Gaga herself has spoken up against the overuse of airbrushing and Photoshop in magazines. At this month's Glamour's Women of the Year Awards in NYC, she spoke up against her own cover shoot for being 'too perfect'. At the Carnegie Hall bash, she said: "I felt my skin looked too perfect. I felt my hair looked too soft. I do not look like this in the morning".

She added that "It's fair to write about changes in your magazines. But what I want to see is the change on your covers... When the covers change, that's when the culture changes".

Debenhams have famously brought about certain change to their high-street stores. They have just this month introduced size 16 mannequins to reflect the UK dress size average. While not cutting to the core of the body image issue, it's surely a positive step in the right direction.

Further evidence for the rise of the curvier frame can be found with the continual rise in the career of Robyn Lawley. The Australian is the first plus-size model to be shot for Australian Vogue and GQ Australia. She's also the first to appear in a campaign for Ralph Lauren.

The lady also cooks. The success of her food blog Robyn Lawley Eats culminated in a contract with Random House to publish her own cookbook. She is also signed to host an Australian cooking show. I don't think you would have seen a model getting the chance to do that five years ago.

I don't want to speak of role models, but this lady is hot. As is Kelly Brook. As are the millions of other real women with hips, with bums and boobs and, yes, with thighs that touch each other.

Ladies of this consumer society, be yourself! Nothing is sexier than the confidence to be comfortable in your skin. Embrace yourselves, you wonderfully diverse things you!