Victoria Beckham’s rail-thin physique has been voted the unhealthiest celebrity figure of the last 60 years by fitness experts.
The singer-turned-designer was deemed to have the most unrealistic and potentially dangerous body shape for ordinary women to emulate. She was singled out from a selection of famous women whose figures were aspirational for their generation.
The research on behalf of organic fat binder Proactol, asked respondents to pick the most positive and negative role models among famous, glamorous women down the decades, who represent society’s changing ideals.
They included the tall, athletic build of Princess Diana in the nineties, petite and well proportioned Kylie Minogue in Neighbours in the eighties, leggy, slender Olivia Newton John in Grease in the seventies, boyish-skinny Twiggy in the sixties and the bombshell curves of Diana Dors in the fifties.
Katie Downing-Howitt, product manager for Proactol, explains: “We chose these women’s figures as iconic because if you see a photo of them in their heyday, you can tell instantly which decade it is. Olivia Newton John in black spandex as Sandy in Grease is inextricably linked with the seventies, just as Diana’s post-divorce glamour summed up the nineties and Victoria Beckham in a body-con dress is instantly recognisable in recent times.”
An overwhelming 89% of respondents chose mother-of-three Victoria as the most negative role model, saying she looks as if she maintains her size through not eating enough and is just too thin. Unlike “naturally slim” Kylie or Twiggy, the tiny 35-year-old was deemed to have a starved, wasted look that represented extreme self-denial. The remaining 11% of votes for a negative role model were split between the young Twiggy, also for being too thin, and Diana Dors, as she was “attractive but maybe not very toned, by today’s standards.”
Ged Musto, a personal trainer based in Hereford who has worked with a number of celebrity clients, including Robert Plant, Lenny Henry, Monty Don and actress Joanne Whalley, said: “Victoria Beckham is the epitome of extreme skinniness which is most definitely not healthy. With size zero she has taken calorie restriction to new extremes. Looking at her I can see her size is achieved by a combination of lack of nutrients and too much exercising. I always point out to my clientele that a well-balanced, healthy diet is paramount. Victoria is quite simply in my eyes a poor role model for young girls and adult women in general, and this worship of someone so underweight could lead to more young women suffering from conditions such as anorexia.”
By contrast he chose Olivia Newton John as the most positive role model, saying she had “beautiful skin and muscle tone” and her continuing beauty in her sixties was proof that she had eaten properly, exercised and looked after herself.
Overall, fellow Antipodean Kylie scored highest as the most positive, for her trim but not skinny look. “She’s small but she looks the right weight for her height and as if she spends plenty of time being active,” said one trainer, “She never has that drained, grey and haggard look you sometimes get if you don’t eat enough.”
Jon Le Tocq, of www.fatlossactionblueprint.com, based in Nottingham, chose the late Princess Diana. “She had the curves and figure that showed a healthy lifestyle based on clean nutrition and lots of exercise without being compulsive and obsessive,” he said. “I'm sure she had her vices like anyone but she always looked like she enjoyed life as well rather than being in a constant battle against dieting and hours and hours on the treadmill!”
Katie Downing-Howitt added: “Proactol is designed to help women lose weight when combined with a healthy diet and exercise regime, but we would never want to encourage unrealistic or damaging expectations. The best message always has to be, aim to be your own ideal weight.”
Based on a survey of 50 fitness professionals.
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