• Fri, Dec 9 2011

Daily Fail: The Average British Woman Weighs 154 Pounds, And Doesn’t Like It

At first glance, The Daily Mail‘s post about the average woman’s weight seems vaguely body positive: They announce that the average British lady may weigh 11 stone (that’s 154 pounds, this side of the pond), but she it comes in many shapes. But to demonstrate the point, they line up a group of women who weight 11 stone in their underwear (hey, better than their naked couple photo shoot), and ask them to explain how they feel about their bodies…which, except for the woman who’s over six feet tall, seems to be mostly “not great.”

Only one of these women—the one who’s over six feet tall, making her height-weight ratio far lower than her peers’—says outright that she’s happy with her weight. The rest all confess to wishing they weighed less or feeling insecure about their looks. Just the first sentence from each of their comments gives you an idea:

Angela Garvin, 42, is 5ft 2in and a size 14
She runs an online vintage clothing company from her home in Romford, Essex. She says:
I’m a typical pear shape and would love to shave five inches off my thighs. But I enjoy food too much to put in the effort it would take to get below 11st.

Gilly Bishop, 40, is 5ft 4in and wears a size 18 on top and 14 on the bottom
The mother-of-two is a singer and lives in Brighton. She says:
When I’m singing and dancing about on stage, all eyes are on me. Being far from skinny at 11st, I can feel self-conscious. So I’d love to get down to 10st but I can’t see it happening.

Anne Clewlow, 33, is 5ft 8in and wears size 12
The events manager lives in Stoke-on-Trent with her husband, Scott Redfern, 37, and son Ryan, nine. She says:
Other women sound shocked when I tell them I weigh 11st, which makes me feel pretty self-conscious about my size.

Lauren Hennessy, 25, is 5ft 11in, a size 10 on top and 12 on the bottom
She is a Slimming World consultant and lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, Sam, 26, a postal worker, and sons Stanley, five, and Ronnie, two. She says:
I was massively overweight until four years ago and still find it hard to believe people when they say that my 11st frame looks slim.

Serone Bailey, 24, is 6ft 1in and a size 10
She is single and a childcare student from North London. She says:
There’s nothing I’d change about my body — 11st is my perfect weight. I used to be 2st lighter, I was a size 6 to 8, and looked positively gaunt — I had to wear two pairs of leggings under jeans to pad them out and give me some shape.

Far from being a body positive expose on what “real women” look like, their article borders on fat-shaming: The average woman’s weight has creeped up from 10.5 stone to 11, they say, and the result is that unless you’re extremely tall, you feel fat and gross. It’s not bad to remind people that, as the average weight goes up, so do several health concerns; it’s also not bad to give women the message that even if they are at a precariously high average weight, it’s okay to feel good about their bodies. But The Daily Mail is neither here nor there.

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  • K

    Thank you for this photo. I’m 5’10 and around 165lb. My body shape is similar to Anne, the woman in the middle. People tell me I’m slim, but the number of the scale tells me otherwise. Everyone else in my family ranges from obese to morbidly obese and I have a fucked up sense of my own body composition. I can look at the picture of Anne though and almost convince myself that I’m at a healthy weight.

    • Briana Rognlin

      Hi K, I hope that this post does help… It’s almost impossible to judge your health entirely by how you look, but you’re right, I think if you have issues with body image and are paranoid about being unhealthy because of people in your family, it can be good to get a little perspective by realizing that you’re not the only person in the world who has a body like your own. I think the best way to judge your health is to look at your habits; if you’re eating well and getting exercise, then you shouldn’t obsess over the number on a scale. Good luck, and thanks for your comment!

  • Kj

    Well, while I am disappointed by the negative feelings that these women share, I think that these are (unfortunately) pretty common feelings.

    I do like the visual provided, though – it’s neat to see the variety of shapes that go with a specific weight! People are always surprised that I weigh as much as I do, since I guess I have a lot of muscle mass or something.

  • jen

    This line got under my skin a little bit: “it’s also not bad to give women the message that even if they are at a precariously high average weight, it’s okay to feel good about their bodies.”

    What it sounds like you’re saying is that anyone at this weight (regardless of height or muscle mass) should feel bad about it, but it’s permissible to allow them to feel good about… it comes across as borderline bodyshaming. Dislike.

    • Briana Rognlin

      Hey jen, my point in that line was that the Daily Mail should have either written a post about the health concerns that come with England’s rising average weight (which they mention in their article, but don’t really get into), OR they should have use the photo shoot of theirs to say “look, these women are all the same weight but they look radically different, and that’s great.” Instead, we got sort of a mild warning about the health implications and then a weirdly mixed message about how “the average woman” looks and feels.