'Playboy' pin-ups are becoming more boyish

Despite the growing prevalence of cosmetic enhancement, the female form idealised in men's magazines is becoming less curvaceous and increasingly androgynous, a study of nearly 50 years of Playboy models has shown.

Researchers at the University of Vienna compared the measurements of all 577 Playboy centrefolds, beginning with Marilyn Monroe in December 1953, who measured 37-23-36, to those of Miss December 2001. They took the height, weight and figure measurements of the models to calculate a body-mass index, ratios for waist and hip, and bust and waist, and an "androgyny" index.

The study, in this week's British Medical Journal, showed that over the years, the bust and hip sizes of models decreased and waist sizes increased. Many health workers believe today's increasingly slimmer images of woman may increase the incidence of eating disorders among girls.