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Flip through any fashion magazine, and you'll see dozens of women flaunting whittled waistlines and men sporting six-pack abs. Toss in some designer clothes, high heels, a professional makeup artist and, of course, a little photo-editing, and the message is complete: Tall plus skinny equals beautiful. But, Bob Greene and TheBestLife.com, ask is it healthy?
We've grown up with body image cues telling us thinner is better, but the fact is, skeleton skinny is not healthy—nor realistic. If the Barbie you had as a little girl were a real person, she'd be so underweight that she probably wouldn't be able to menstruate. Young boys are given similarly disturbing standards: Take G.I. Joe figurines as an example. If he were life-size, he would have a 55-inch chest and a 27-inch bicep—almost as big as his waist and bigger than most competitive body builders.
The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to a super-slim supermodel or chiseled celeb, keep this in mind: The bony female dimensions and beefed-up male figures that the media champions as fashionable are about as far from average as Bill Gates' bank account balance. Many of the female models and actresses who capture the media spotlight with their rail-thin figures are on the brink of being dangerously thin.
So what is average? According to the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics, the average man weighs 190 pounds and is 5 feet, 9 and a half inches tall, up about 24 pounds and an inch and a half from 1960. The average woman is 163 pounds and 5 foot 4 inches, also up from about 140 pounds and 5 foot 3 inches in 1960.
Does that mean "average American" should be your fitness goal? Uh, no