Don't tell me that thin isn't a feminist issue

While men like to be seen with girls who look like supermodels, they dream of girls with old-style curves

Share

Women are going straight. It's official. After months, years of painstaking research, physiologists in Vienna have come up with incontrovertible proof that the female torso is becoming more androgynous. Or, to put it another way, less like an egg-timer, more like a breadboard.

Women are going straight. It's official. After months, years of painstaking research, physiologists in Vienna have come up with incontrovertible proof that the female torso is becoming more androgynous. Or, to put it another way, less like an egg-timer, more like a breadboard.

So what's new and why has it taken those Viennese eggheads this long to cotton on to a trend that anyone who has ever been to Top Shop could have told them 10 years ago? Dress size 10 used to be considered small and, if you asked for an eight, the assistant looked at you as if you had escaped from a circus. Nowadays no one bats an eyelid if you ask for a dress size six. But this is Cool Britannia and not old-fashioned Austria where gentlemen still bow and kiss your hand and women still wear dirndls like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

Oh yes they do. I've just been to a wedding in Austria, coincidentally in the very church in Mondsee, near Salzburg, where Ms Andrews married Captain von Trapp in the film and everyone sang Edelweiss. The bride, my best friend's daughter, wore a dirndl and so did most of the female guests. If there is one requirement to looking good in a dirndl, it is curves. Without what used to be described in romantic novels as a full bosom, a dirndl looks as uninviting as an empty pillowcase. But these glamour fraus and fräuleins filled their frothy white décolleté blouses with plenitude and panache.

Where was I, apart from at my friend's wedding on Mondsee? Ah yes, academics in Vienna and androgynous women. No longer it seems are the groves of academe removed from the rude cut and thrust of everyday life. Absent-minded professors are in the thick of it. For their research into the increasing incidence of female androgyny those dedicated researchers worked their way through 50 years of Playboy magazine back issues checking to see whether contemporary centrefolds have smaller boobs, thicker waists and slimmer hips than their predecessors.

What a chore. For the record, vital statistics have changed dramatically from the old gold standard, namely Marilyn Monroe's 37-23-36, to a more straightforward 35-26-34, and the way things are going we'll soon be proportionally the same as I was at seven when I was measured for my school uniform coat. My mother looked incredulously at the label which read: chest 24, waist 24, hips 24, length 24.

I did my own research. I went into my 18-year-old son's room and looked at the pin-ups and I'm bound to say that androgynous is not the word that sprang to mind. This is strange. Most of the young women who come through the kitchen on the way to his room are fashionably skinny. I have this theory that while men like to be seen with girls who look like supermodels, they dream about girls with old-fashioned curves. No one would dispute that to look convincing in spangly Lycra tank-tops and leather pants you have to be a stick insect with a severe eating disorder but this is strictly leisurewear, not the stuff that dreams are made on. I don't know how many Viennese academics you would need to prove that, given a choice between Marilyn Monroe (37-23-36) and Kate Moss (29-29-29), most men would go for MM.

And anyway, Christmas is not the time to worry about vital statistics. I have just stocked up on enough stodge in the shape of plum puddings, Christmas cakes and mince pies to turn a plague of locusts into Teletubbies. It is dangerous to generalise but, in my experience, fat people are more fun than skinnymalinks. There will be no room for androgyny round my Christmas table, that's for sure, but particularly this year when, for a change, instead of listening to the Queen's Speech, we're going to play the new board game I've just been sent by my favourite adman at Mother Merriment. It's a variation of that old chestnut, except that this one is called No Cluedo.

The blurb on the back describes it as a game for "every royalist, red-top reader and would-be republican, starting with a crime and working up to a sleazy climax of tabloid proportions". To find out whodunit, you use a telephoto lens and a cheque book while the characters include the Queen of Hearts, the Duchess of Pork, Phil the Greek, HRH Monstrous Carbuncle and, of course, Ze Queen. It sounds like perfect after-dinner entertainment for every dysfunctional family.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas