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June 6, 2012 at 8:44 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Average Woman's Waist Has Grown By 6 Inches Since 1950!

By Jeany Miller More Blogs by This Author

Women’s bodies have long been scrutinized, and it seems they’re once more under review. According to a study from London-based insurance company Saga, the waists of today’s women are six inches bigger than those of the 1950s. In 1952, the average waist size of a middle-aged woman was 28 inches, whereas the average waist size today is 34 inches.

What’s happened to create this increase in girth?

The greatest contributing factor, according to Saga, is that women now do less housework than those in the past. Sixty years ago, researchers believe women burned close to 1,000 calories per day doing regular house chores, like vacuuming and dishwashing. Most women during that time didn’t even have a washing machine, and scrubbing the windows and floors was part of a normal day.

Now, however, housework has become much more modernized, with technological advancements in everything from cooking to dusting. The whole purpose of creating new and improved tools for the home has been to make chores faster and easier to manage. As an effect, however, these new gadgets are doing most of the work.

Personally speaking, I do housework as rarely as possible because I don’t have the time for it. I run the vacuum every couple of days, but I hardly use the hand tool that would allow me to get into corners, under the bed and around my furniture. I never dust, because I have lots of knickknacks and can’t bear the thought of moving them all, and I never clean the windows either.

I also have a dishwasher, for which I’m more grateful than you know, because I hate washing dishes. To me, laundry is a painful subject; I have to lug my baskets, detergent and quarters to the laundry center located five minutes from my apartment. Suffice it to say this is less than convenient. Rather than get on my hands and knees to scrub my kitchen floor (like my grandmother used to do), I swipe at grime with the Swiffer.

I have a problem with blaming body size on housework. Life today is far different from what it was 60 years ago. According to a 2011 New York Times article, the marriage rate among Americans was at its highest in the 1950s, when this institution not only defined gender roles and family life, but also enabled many women to stay at home to keep the house and children running smoothly.

Today, half of all marriages end in divorce, meaning single women must work in order to support themselves. Moreover, many females now choose careers over “traditional” families.  This boils down to one thing: being in the workplace keeps women from being at home where they can readily perform daily chores.

Another crucial factor is diet, which has changed significantly since the 1950s. Women of that era typically consumed around 1,800 calories per day, compared with 2,170 now. The types of foods eaten were also vastly different. To illustrate, an average middle class diet 60 years ago contained small amounts of meat; raw fruits and vegetables; and homemade soups and casseroles. Steak was served on special occasions, and store-bought soups and meals were given on “fun” nights when the kids had a sleepover or friends were coming by for bridge. Today, these foods are eaten more frequently, and homemade meals are considered “treats” for special occasions.

Ultimately, comparing women of today to those of 60 years ago requires more than the typical body scrutiny. Women now are far more likely to be college educated, hold professional positions traditionally reserved for men and manage a multitude of responsibilities (think driving the kids to school, working all day, preparing supper, bathing the kids, washing laundry and paying bills all in one day). We may not all have 28-inch waists, but we’re more amazing now than ever before.

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  • Loved this blog, and how true about the changes that have taken place. Very interesting!

  • Great history reminder in this blog - and how true it is! I remember every weekend as a kid in the 70's we had to dust and vacuum our whole house every Saturday. Who does that anymore?

    Not to mention we had no dish washer back then so I was paired up with my brother or sister to do dishes every other day - since there was four of us we didn't have to do them every single day, we swapped back and forth!

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