Why? Because those bits of your body that you’re not so proud of might be doing you a favour when it comes to your health.
About 80 percent of American women are unhappy with the way they look and most of those women know other women who are also unhappy with their bodies, according to University of Queensland body image researcher Renee Fletcher.
“But beauty doesn’t come in one size and very few women look like the very thin ideal portrayed in the media,” says Fletcher. “We need to learn to love our body and what it does, and to accept the parts of our body we may not be happy with.
“Maybe you aren’t happy with the size of your thighs, but few women have the thin thighs of models. Focus on health instead.”
And some features of your body that you dislike may actually be better for you than the model alternative
Research at the University of Iowa found that big noses reduce the risk of colds. The study found that people with big noses breathe in 6.5 percent fewer particles, such as cold bacteria, than people with smaller noses.
Consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Nigel Biggs says people with smaller noses have narrower airways, can have more difficulty breathing and suffer a blocked nose more easily, too. “A larger nose has better airways. Someone with a smaller nose is more likely to find that the soft cartilage collapses in their nose if they breathe in hard and that impacts on breathing ability,” he says.
Men and women with thighs less than 60cm wide are at greater risk of heart disease. Almost 3000 people took part in a study at Copenhagen University Hospital, and researchers found that people with small thighs were at greater risk of heart disease and premature death. They suggest this may be due to ‘too little muscle mass’ in that area and, in turn, this can be linked to low insulin sensitivity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. O’Brien says we need to focus on a balanced diet and regular exercise to reduce body fat generally. “Eat less and do more. People would love to get away from that simple equation but it’s the best way to get rid of unwanted fat,” he says.
If you long for Jessica Rabbit-style breasts, think again, because smaller chested women are less likely to suffer back, neck and shoulder pain. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says women with size DD chests or larger suffer regular neck, shoulder and lower back pain.
Dr Simon Floreani, national president of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, says that larger chests not only place pressure on the back, neck and shoulders, but women can also tend to become round-shouldered and self-conscious.
“The extra weight of the breast tissue pulls down on the neck and shoulders and they sometimes fold themselves forwards and hunch, which affects the lower back and their breathing as it squashes the diaphragm,” says Floreani.
“If you have larger chests, ensure you are fitted with a supportive bra, choose an appropriate sports bra when you exercise and maybe choose sports that aren’t high impact, and focus on your posture and staying upright.”