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Byline: Wendy Dager Local View

GREAT news! According to a study done by Newcastle University in northern England, I am considered sexy.

And I was so worried.

See, it turns out that men prefer an hourglass shape on women, while the waif look is a definite turn-off.

Which is why I am so incredibly stoked. I, a tail-end baby boomer approaching the middle-age mark, was ever so concerned about remaining attractive to white, middle-class university students. It is much more of an important issue than, say, my ability to care for my children, or help with my husband's business, or continue a career as a free-lance writer.

Whatever caused the study's leader, Martin Tovee, to show a group of white, middle-class university students 50 photos of women in leotards is beyond my scope of reasoning. Perhaps it was all the fat jokes about Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky.

According to a recent Associated Press article, the students who participated in the study were asked to rank the leotard-clad bodies of the women in the photos. Their faces and hair were blocked out. Good thing, too, because some women just aren't photogenic.

Tovee compared the importance of waist-hip ratio with that of body-mass index, which measures a weight relative to height. The students consistently chose an ideal with a body-mass index of 18 to 20, which is considered model range. Yet, when the bodies got heavier, the ``incremental decrease in attractiveness was slow compared to when the figures got skinnier,'' Tovee said.

In other words, these university students would prefer to date Cindy Crawford, but if she's unavailable, they pass up a super-skinny chick, like Kate Moss, and go for a heavier woman, like me.

Actually, they'd probably choose Kate anyway, because she has much more money than I do, and it also would be a lot cooler to go out with Johnny Depp's ex-girlfriend than someone married to a general contractor.

But I am still really excited about this news because, according to the article, the average woman has a body mass index of 24 to 26. This means a 5-foot-6-inch woman could weigh 160 pounds and still be thought attractive by white, middle-class university students, even though some experts consider her overweight. Tovee says this is because it all relates subconsciously to the perception of health and fertility.

``It showed you're much better off being too fat than too thin,'' Tovee said.

We heavier gals certainly possess those always-necessary child-bearing hips, a prerequisite of the mate university students want.

I am certain that this serious study, the results of which appeared in the Lancet, a weekly British medical journal, will help women everywhere. Because of it, we likely won't be spending as much money on weight-loss programs, gym memberships and the latest diet drugs. Just knowing that men would rather women have too many pounds than too few is such a relief.

Now, if we women could get equal pay for equal work, fair treatment by auto mechanics who think we are idiots, and someone to do a study on why there are studies on what men find attractive, then we all could breathe a lot easier in our leotards.



Drawing: no caption (woman with hourglass shape)

Wendy Dager
COPYRIGHT 1998 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 24, 1998

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