Here’s some very depressing news. RMIT and La Trobe universities are conducting a nation-wide study of women’s body image called, “What’s really eating you?”

Preliminary results are deeply disturbing. The study has found that nine out of 10 Australian women have regular “fat days” and more than two-thirds feel uncomfortable about looking at themselves naked in the shower.

About 21% of the participants regularly ate nothing for eight hours or more in order to influence their weight.

In addition, a third of the women surveyed feel as though they are ‘trapped in a vicious cycle’ of repeatedly checking their tummy, thighs and bottom to see how much they can allow themselves to eat. Almost half of the participants feel fat every single day and spend their time desperately wanting to lose weight.

These results are alarming to say the least. How did we get to this point? Why are Australian women struggling so badly with their weight and body image?

It’s dangerous and unhealthy and I can’t understand why our society is allowing this to happen.

Why is it so hard for women to feel good about themselves? Why is the amount you weigh so intrinsically tied to your feelings of confidence and self worth?

Where is this sense of dissatisfaction coming from and who is to blame? I’m not really sure, but I’m guessing there is a combination of forces at work here.

The fashion industry, with it’s mantra of ‘thin is chic’ obviously plays a major role. As do magazines, television, film, the media in general and our society’s obsessive fetish with celebrity.

But I think women ourselves are also to blame. Why are we letting idiotic magazines tell us how we should look and making us feel inadequate when we don’t live up to society’s unrealistic expectations?

At the risk of sounding like I’m spouting some earth-mother, hippy, feminist cliche, women really should be celebrating their bodies and themselves.

I can’t believe how much time we’re wasting thinking about our bums and our thighs – feeling anxious and depressed and missing out on delicious food.

Think how much happier we would be if we put half as much thought into our education, health and emotional wellbeing! If we applied equal effort to our careers, we’d clearly be running the world by now!

Fat or thin – who cares? We are more than a collection of body parts or a number on the scales.

This is an incredibly serious issue. People need to start making some noise because it is simply unacceptable that women should feel this way.

What of future generations of women?

My cousin just gave birth to an incredible, beautiful, healthy baby girl. I hope that she will grow up to be a beautiful, happy and confident woman.

But it is our responsibility to ensure this happens.

The women of today need to take control to ensure that the women of tomorrow are strong, confident and happy.