We found that hips were an inch-and-a-half bigger, as were busts; then when we got to the waists and found six-and-a-half inches difference, it was: "Wow - everyone, man and woman, has a belly now"A whole inch-and-a-half! Geez, that is huge! Never mind that British women are also two inches taller. And why are they taller?
It's partly down to nutrition - a better and more plentiful diet, explains Bernard Harris, professor of the history of social policy at Southampton University.
But, more surprisingly, our increased height reflects the lessening demands of the environment. Now, with warmer homes, better medicine and improved sanitation, our energy - significantly in childhood - can be devoted to growth.
There is also the cleanliness of our environment to consider. Antibiotics did not become commonplace until the mid-Fifties.
'In unsanitary conditions, you'll suffer diarrhoea more frequently and therefore retain fewer nutrients in the body. If you suffer repeated infections, you use up energy fighting them off, while you may also feel less like eating.'
Frankly, I think the change in waist size that the Daily Mail chronicled is not only because British women are turning into the healthy, non-diarrhea-having, non-valium-popping, fatties the article suggests. They do mention that what we eat has changed, due to companies' tendency to shove as much cornsyrup and saturated fat as they can into our food to make sure it is tasty enough for us to keep buying it. But, considering that the the article is about the results of the UK National Sizing Survey, produced by clothing companies and department stores, it might be worth considering how clothing sizes and undergarments have changed.
My generation's bodies are different from our grandmothers and mothers simply because we don't constrict our waists with belts or girdles. It used to be that when you went to a department store, there was a "Foundations" department. That's because while we may have dropped the corset in the 1920's we very quickly picked up girdles. And that hourglass figure that the Daily Mail misses so much? That was poked and prodded and sculpted and shoved into place by a bunch of elastic and boning.
As the waist-belt and high-waisted pants have come back into fashion, those of us raised in the age of 80's casual, and who came of age in grunge, have realized one side effect of the trend. To put it mildly, those 70's inspired high-waisted pants, make a girl a little gassy. One friend finally got her mom to try on a pair of jeans that sat below her natural waist and her mom thought it was a breakthrough - her digestive system worked better!
Also, we need to say something about the idea that boobs are bigger. Yes, its true, they are a bit bigger, we are bigger everywhere else and we eat a hell of a lot more artificial hormones. And, there is that pesky little friend of women's liberation - the pill. But, since I've never written a study on a direct correlation between these factors and increased bust size (though lets say I've got more than enough anecdotal evidence to prove the point) all one needs to do is watch Mad Men to see that comparing 1950's and 60's bra sizes to today's is like, well, comparing apples to oranges...or maybe apples to missles.
So thanks Daily Mail, but I'll take my antibiotics, birth control, and undergarments that let me take a full breath over a couple of inches any day.