BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Looking good

Rod McKenzie Rod McKenzie | 10:36 UK time, Wednesday, 21 February 2007

As a snapshot of a nation's insecurity over the way we look, our Radio 1 'body image' survey has got people talking. Half of all the young women who took part in our online questionnaire for Newsbeat and our sister station 1Xtra would consider plastic surgery. A third of size 12s think they are overweight - and nearly half the respondents had skipped meals to slim.

Radio One logoThis wasn't just a small scale snapshot either: with 25,000 responses this is the largest, albeit self-selecting, survey of body image among the UK's young adults. As you would expect from Radio 1, the vast majority of respondents were aged under 35. Body image, and problems that stem from it - including eating disorders and depression - are very much a running theme to our journalism on Radio 1.

There are some who are very surprised by all this. One woman outside our target audience age range confided in me her despair: so much for living in a post feminist world - today's women seem so much more self critical than our generation. Who's to blame? Is it the media? An obsession with the size zero super skinny models? Shops that seldom seem to stock larger sizes and push large volumes of size eights and 10s at the front of their displays? Or is a sign of youthful insecurity?

You'll have your own views and the men have theirs too: one listener got in touch to ask "am I the only guy in this twisted country that thinks size 14 is sexy?". Plenty of others told us how much they loved their girlfriends for their "sexy curves", but some of them admitted that despite that the women thought of themselves as fat and ugly. So male praise isn't working then. (I'm still not popular for attempting to reassure my friend that her size 12 was two sizes below the nation's average size. Big mistake for raising it. Ouch.)

And although far fewer men are unhappy about their appearance - the quest for the perfect body isn't confined to the female sex: one in five men in their early twenties had tried bulking up in the gym with protein supplements, and 80% of blokes thought the ideal body image was one of a very muscular physique. Incidentally, reassuringly for the skinny blokes, more than a quarter of women who took part in the survey thought that was the male body beautiful.


This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.