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Majority of women 'unhappy with breasts' - and unlikely to check for lumps

Caroline Allen
Contributor
Women in the UK are more conscious about their breasts than in almost all other countries. [Photo: Getty]

New research has revealed that seven in 10 women are unhappy with their breasts.

The study by Anglia Ruskin University also found that women in the UK were more self-conscious about their breasts than women in most other countries.

Women who are conscious about their breasts are less likely to carry out self-examinations and make a doctor’s appointment if they do sense something is wrong.

This has led UK doctors to describe this data as “alarming”.

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The study surveyed 18,541 women across 40 countries in the largest piece body positivity research ever undertaken.

Almost half (48%) of women wanted bigger breasts while under one quarter (23%) would prefer them to be smaller.

The research sheds light on some reasons behind the discontentment amongst women in the UK.

According to Mental Health Secretary, Jackie Doyle-Price, this is related to TV shows like Love Island and The Only Way Is Essex fuelling the quest for the perfect body.

But, there are plenty of voices in the UK advocating body positivity and confidence.

Model and body empowerment activist, Kelly Knox, believes it’s our “uniqueness” that makes us beautiful.

“A woman’s breasts were not created to look pretty or be desired. They are magical, mystical milk makers designed to grow life.

“Forget what the media and society tells you what your breast should look like. Our differences and uniqueness are what makes us beautiful and individual.”

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Despite the body positivity movement growing, designer and dressmaker, Holly Winter, still finds many of her clients are “dejected” about their breasts.

“What women don’t know is that off-the-peg clothing (and indeed most commercial dressmaking patterns) is typically designed for a B-cup.

“Incidentally, these average proportions are still based on the measurements of thousands of women around the turn of the last century, most of whom were US subsistence farmers who tended to be fairly lean with - you've guessed it - an average B-cup bust.”

She describes how trends change based on popular culture - for example, Holly says: “Kim Kardashian has diverted attention away from busts to bums.”

Even with this shift in focus, she reveals that many women blame their bodies rather than the clothes.

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It’s this innate culture of blame women put on their bodies which may contribute to the Anglia Ruskin University’s findings.

Mindset expert, Donna Elliott, blames “Being bombarded with airbrushed and filtered images of perfection” on the UK’s body confidence crisis.

Like Kelly Knox, she believes the route to happiness is making the decision to have a “different relationship with your body”.

“Think of all the wasted minutes, hours and days that you’ve obsessed about your boobs. Add that up and think of what else you could have done with that time. Use that time to be kind and respectful to yourself and know that you are gorgeous!” She advises.

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NHS hospitals are seeing a six-fold rise in corrective surgery on British people who have sought out cheap boob jobs overseas.

The message to women who are struggling with the way their breasts look is resolute, though. Motivational speaker and mum-of-three, Dani Wallace, says: “Augmented, natural, removed, small, large, droopy, uneven.... All are beautiful.”

“My breasts have changed in shape and size over the course of my life, I have fed all three of my children with them. I have been a size 32A and I am currently a 42C. The media portray a very almost cookie cutter style ideal of what breasts should look like and it's just not attainable.

“Your body is your home, the only one you get to live in your entire life. You can't hate your breasts into perfection. They're perfect already. Even if they are imperfect.”

We concur.