New women are happy, independent, imperfect

`Real Women' give up on Superwoman and hate hectoring adverts

Three-quarters of women have given up trying to be an Eighties Superwoman and say they are a lot happier since they stopped striving for perfection. And having a man in their life is no longer very important for two-thirds of women, with only one in five seeing marriage as a goal to be achieved.

Most women say they are not affected by rake-thin models pushed forward by advertisers and the media. Two-thirds of women do not feel pressurised into looking like the models in magazines and fewer dream of losing lots of weight than dream of having enough time to do everything they want or travelling frequently.

They also fail to pine for lost youth, preferring advertisements showing women over 30 who are interesting and attractive, rather than 18-year- olds. And being able to afford to have someone else to do the chores rated higher than being able to turn the clock back.

Women dislike the way they are pigeonholed by advertisers with more than one in three feeling that "most adverts treat women as idiots" and nearly as many think "most ads are basically sexist". Nine out of ten would prefer adverts to show "real women" rather than beautiful actresses and models, and their favourite advertisements are ones that are entertaining and make then laugh.

Their top three television adverts were for Diet Coke [where women ogle a man taking off his T-shirt], Tesco with Jane Horrocks and Prunella Scales and Oxo with Lynda Bellingham - an older, attractive woman with a personality. The most disliked ads were the old Fairy campaign with Nanette Newman, Daz's "doorstep challenge" with Danny Baker and Tampax [a roller-skating glamour girl].

Role models varied from Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey to Dawn French and Joanna Lumley. At the bottom of the list came Pamela Anderson, Paula Yates and Margaret Thatcher.

According to the NOP survey, which questioned women between 15 and 45, the best things about being a woman today are being able to have both a career and a family; the opportunity to pursue a career if they want to; and the ability to be financially independent from men. The number of women with a mortgage in their own name doubled between 1983 and 1994 and more than a quarter now hold shares.

Nearly nine out of 10 women said they would be confident investing money on their own, 44 per cent would feel confident buying a personal computer and 35 per cent a car. They also said that they would enjoy shopping for these items much more than shopping for clothes, furniture or home decorations.

The role of motherhood is no longer seen as crucial to women's self esteem, with just 15 per cent of women agreeing that a woman is only truly fulfilled when she has had children.

Women who have children still tend to enjoy a traditional role, with 63 per cent saying that in a family with young children they would rather be the one who stays at home. At the same time less than half would feel that being a wife and mother was enough for them.

"The 1990s seem to be a time of great opportunity for women," said Nigel Sharrocks, managing director of Grey. "If they felt under pressure 10 years ago to be the perfect mother, wife and career woman, today they are enjoying the choices they face without the constant need to live up to other people's expectations.

"A new optimistic woman with a strong sense of her own independence and individuality has taken over."

Faces that fit ... and don't fit

What women like...

Diet Coke ad

Joanna Lumley

Tesco ads

Dawn French

Tina Turner

Oxo ads

Oprah Winfrey

Kids in Safeway ads

What women don't like...

Pamela Anderson

Danny Baker and the

Daz challenge

Paula Yates

Nanette Newman on

Fairy Liquid

Margaret Thatcher

Tampax roller-skater ad


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