In 1917, the physically perfect woman was about 5ft 4in tall and weighed nearly 10 stone.
Even 25 years ago, top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman, now they weigh 23% less.
Women are continually bombarded with images of the 'ideal' face and figure – what Naomi Woolf calls ' The Official Body'.
Constant exposure to idealised images of female beauty on TV, magazines and billboards makes exceptional good looks seem normal and anything short of perfection seem abnormal and ugly.
They often don't trust praise of their work or talents, believing positive evaluations to be influenced by their appearance.
What people see and how they react to their reflection in a mirror will vary according to: species, sex, age, ethnic group, sexual orientation, mood, eating disorders, what they've been watching on TV, what magazines they read, whether they're married or single, what kind of childhood they had, whether they take part in sports, what phase of the menstrual cycle they're in, whether they are pregnant, where they've been shopping – and even what they had for lunch.
Concern with appearance is not just an aberration of Modern Western culture.
Every period of history has had its own standards of what is and is not beautiful, and every contemporary society has its own distinctive concept of the ideal physical attributes.
The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population – and that's just in terms of weight and size.
If you want the ideal shape, face etc., it's probably more like 1%.
Similar studies in Japan have found that 41% of elementary school girls (some as young as 6) thought they were too fat.