It’s official: Australians are Fat and Badly Dressed

by Kelly on July 9, 2008 · 22 comments

in Travel. Photography,Women. Beauty. Feminism


Though they ARE polite and friendly.

These are the findings of two recent studies. First, Melbourne’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute released its shocking news that Australia has now surpassed the USA as the world’s fattest people with 26% of adult Australians now obese.

The second study came courtesy of Expedia’s Best Tourist Survey, which polled more than 4000 hoteliers and found that Australians are the 6th Best Tourists (the Japanese were number 1), with our strengths being we are “generous and polite”, while our weaknesses are that we are badly dressed and reluctant to eat local cuisine.

After a month travelling in Europe it kills me to say I have to agree with both of these. In fact, I journaled about the exact same thing in Paris.

We Aussies have a lot going for us, but thinness and great fashion sense are not two of them

It’s not that we’re unattractive people exactly because Australian men, in particular, stack up pretty well against their European counterparts. While beauty is a matter of opinion, Aussie men in my age group do tend to be tall and well built, and have an appealing casual masculinity about them.

It’s a different story when it comes to clothes, though. It is a rare sight to see a straight Aussie male with a strong sense of fashion and any distinctive flair. In fact, it’s probably considered pansy to be really well dressed in most of the country. The metrosexual fad did take off a bit in Sydney and Melbourne, but most Australian men would never admit to using moisturizer or colouring their hair or struggling with what to wear on a night out.

Unfortunately, I cannot say Australian women compare as well in the beauty stakes. Our dainty European sisters are much more likely to be stylishly attired, enviably slender, carefully made up, and in Spain, tottering around on beautiful heels. It was enough to have me examining my wardrobe with new eyes and feeling like I needed to give up food and get my ass to the beauty salon quick smart. I’ve only been to a beauty salon 3-4 times in my life and what self respecting French woman can say that?


Feeling Ugly in Europe

The disappointing thing was this time I swore it would be different. Ten years ago I came to Europe as a backpacker and I have never felt so ugly in my life. The French and the Italians, in particular, made me feel like the worst dressed heifer around. Even my sister, who’s quite beautiful, felt over sized and self conscious. Khakis and t-shirts are no match for French chic and high heels.

This trip, however, I thought I’d be prepared. I certainly packed enough clothes! But in Spain I found myself marveling at how the women could eat chocolate croissants for breakfast and eat so much fattening tapas while staying so slim and shapely. And except in Sevilla, I never saw them exercising either. It was infuriating.

And don’t talk to me about Paris. I actually put a bit of care into what I was going to wear my two whole days there and when I left the hotel I thought I had done well. Nicely dressed (see the last picture of me at the Arc de Triomphe), but still comfortable and able to run after a four year old intent on terrorizing pigeons.

It didn’t work. As soon as I got onto the metro and looked around at the other women I felt terrible. Too tall. Too fat. Too casual. Too cumbersome. Too blah. The Parisians are unbelievably thin and oh so elegant. They can make a white blouse and jeans look amazing. In the same outfit I’d just look boring. A large part of their style I think comes from the fact that they are so thin. Their faces, necks and bodies have these angular lines which manage to not look emaciated and make them the perfect clothes hanger.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Body Confidence

Confidence and posture also plays a large part in the allure of a Parisian woman. They walk like they’re floating on a pink, puffy cloud. Like they are a Queen and everybody should just bow down and worship at their designer heeled feet. It’s a lesson us Aussies could learn from the French. Think you’re gorgeous and you are.

We could also learn a thing or two about portion control. The Spanish and the French may eat food which is rich and high in calories, but their meal sizes are much smaller. Food is savoured and nibbled on. Drinks last for ages. Conversation and company is just as important as the meal itself.

Australians eat too much, too quickly. We too often gobble our food without tasting it. There is less appreciation for fine ingredients and the art of cooking. We agonize over calories, but manage to get fatter as a population with every passing year. Something has to change, but that’s a whole other subject…

There is an Upside

It’s not all bad news, though. As I said, Australians are known for being very polite, friendly and generous people. We’re also very casual, fun and straight forward. What you see is what you get. Aussie men and women may be less stylish, but I’m thinking that means we’re more real. We have substance.

And if you want a guy/girl with a natural look, who’s more interested in having a good time than peering at themselves in the mirror or worrying about their hair, then come Down Under. There’s lots of babes for you to choose from. Just look at me!

The first terrible photo of me was taken by Musicman in Granada – someone give that girl a hairbrush!
Photo2 by

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 chris 07.09.08 at 5:24 am

You know if I take out the word Austrilians and Aussies and replace it with Americans, no one would even know the difference. Talk about kindred spirits, huh? If you really think about it, both countries were founded by outcasts…Man, I’m planning a trip to Europe with the kids next year. Does this mean that we have to go shopping for newer clothes?

chris’s last blog post..A Tangled Web

2 Roz Mitchell 07.09.08 at 9:35 am

Kel ready to hit the style road. No seriously, we can all look fab. Its about us how we love ourselves and feel comfortable in our skin. What the heck sometimes we have to just be down right Aussie and laugh out loud – that is good for the soul.Yes we as a we have to look at how unhealthy we are getting and leave all the take-aways alone, learn the basic food groups and think of the inner self.

3 Kelly 07.09.08 at 5:22 pm

Get thee to a clothing store now! In fact, hire a stylist or have hypnosis until you can match their confidence and flair. It’s your only hope…

It’s true that the fat issue is not going to go away, and unlike the badly dressed tag it really isn’t funny. Australians eat too much and move too little. We watch sport, but too often don’t play it. I admit I like my beer and my chocolate and how I wish I didn’t!


4 Cath Lawson 07.10.08 at 3:55 am

Kelly – I’m quite shocked by that news. When I was researching Australia – I got the impression that everyone was fit, healthy and tanned.

You’ve got to remember than when you’re wandering the streets in Paris and Spain, you’re going to be dressed as a tourist – eg. more comfortable, whereas the Europeans are just going about their daily business, so they’re bound to look smarter. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the way you were dressed and you really suit that colour.

Mind you, I hate buying clothes in Spain. Spanish women seem so tiny – you always wind up having to get what the shop keepers call a large size, which can be a bit depressing.

Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Is Your Soul Damaged?

5 Monica 07.10.08 at 6:23 am

I’m living in a large city this summer (I’m from a small, but urban town) and I feel the same way every day. The women here dress to the nines every day. I mean heels, and cute dresses, accesories, and full hair and makeup. They have such beautiful style.

Even when I try my best, I feel lacking. Yes, I may be a little conservatively dressed, but a lot of it is my lack of body confidence… if I feel pretty then I’ll look more pretty!

And you look really cute in the picture!

Monica’s last blog post..Does “working” have to mean “being at work”?

6 Kelly 07.10.08 at 7:28 pm


I was just excited to be able to buy clothes in Spain! I really didn’t expect to be able to. At 173cm tall and an Australian size 12-14 (depending on whether it hugs my butt or not. Butt hugging involves a size 14), I really thought the best chance i had was shoes in Spain. But I bought a great top and skirt in evilla and I could ahve gone crazy and bought lots of stuff if I had more shopping time. Kids really put a crimp in your shopping time.

The image of the tanned spunky Aussie does hold strong and it’s not a fallacy, it’s just that there are also a lot of people who are overweight, particularly men, particularly post 30. I think we like our beer and BBQ steak too much…

And thanks for the compliment. I really do love that dress and you’re right at home would dress it up more. I deliberately chose a bad photo of me and it was taken after 5 hours of looking around the AlHambra in Granada. I was totally sweaty and I think dust was glued to every inch of my body. Ick.


7 Gunfighter 07.10.08 at 8:53 pm

Then again, there are those who don’t think that the icky-stick-thin Parisian is particularly attractive. Being skinny is overrated. Skinny people tend not to be poarticularly strong or tough… and who needs that?

Give me a girl with some meat on her bones, anytime.

Gunfighter’s last blog post..Bloggin’ From An Undisclosed location

8 mark 07.10.08 at 10:26 pm

Yikes! Australians are friendly…? Who did this study?

HUh, just kidding.:) Seriously, though I can’t believe Aussies have taken over the obesity torch from the U.S.

mark’s last blog post..Don’t Let Anybody Tell You That You Can’t

9 Cath Lawson 07.11.08 at 3:12 am

Kelly – I wish I was that tall – you are 11.7 centimetres taller than me. But even before I put weight on, I always felt big compared to Spanish women – they’re all so tiny. I bought a dress in a market in Spain a couple of years ago. I was only about 8 and a half stone then and the woman looked at me and said “you need a large”. I dread to think how small you would need to be to fit into a small.

Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Immigrating to Canada or Australia – Pros and Cons

10 Kelly 07.11.08 at 9:44 am


A man after my own heart. Here, here, what are you going to grab if a woman has no meat on her bones? Though the extra padding I accumulated in Spain does have to go.

We actually have no excuse for this mantle of fattest nation either.We have so much access to healthy food here and great weather for outdoors activity so really we should be slim and fit. I do think the big drinking culture plays a part post 30. The body seems to put up with our abuse for so long then it just says “No more” and the weight piles on.

I got used to having just as many LARGE sizes as MEDIUM in clothing many years ago, but I am tall so I see it as to be expected. Even when I was a thin drug taking, not eating idiot, I never got smaller than a size 12/medium, so that’s just me. It must be hard to hide weight gain when you’re shorter – I am lucky that way. Many people don’t notice my size changes due to my height and curvy body shape. It’s usually my face and butt that end up giving me away.


11 Monika Mundell 07.11.08 at 1:02 pm

Hi Kelly,

Isn’t it the inside that counts for more beauty than the outside? Oh well, I guess not. We always seem to check people out by their looks first but I certainly agree that Aussies are way too fat. Living where I do it’s even worse and more obvious. It seems to me these people have no self respect. They pig out, drink like there is no tomorrow and then get depressed because they are fat. Huh.
Coming from an European background i know what you mean with the stick insects in France and Spain. Not sure though whether stick is what I’d like to be myself. Like you I’m tall 1,76m and also similar built. In the end, I think natural beauty is way more important than being a hussy. To me anyway. I’d hate to think I have to spend hours applying make up and choosing clothes.

Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Freelance Writing Behind The Scenes

12 Barbara Swafford 07.11.08 at 6:41 pm

Hi Kelly,

Why do we do that? Let others make us feel like we’re inferior, fat, ugly, too tall, too short, under dressed. That’s not right. We are all beautiful women in our own right. We need to learn to hold our head up high and know on the inside we’re as good as anyone else.

It would be interesting to find our how some of those women would feel if they visited Australia, or parts of the US where the norm is casual dress, no make up and wind blown hair. I bet they would feel out of place and inferior because we’re living life, not worried about our appearance.

Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..FEFF – It’s Good For The Ego

13 Kelly 07.11.08 at 6:59 pm


For some reason your comments always go to my SPAM folder, where have to remember to look and then approve them. Not sure why that is.

Thanks for the compliment. As I said I don’t like that picture and it was kinda hard putting it up here for everyone to see. And feeling pretty is vital for having the confidence to dress as we like and project the best of ourselves.

Thanks for your regular comments

14 Kelly 07.11.08 at 7:12 pm

I think we all agree that the inside should count more, though I’m not sure that it does in a world where superficiality seems to be celebrated at every turn. Generally I am also happy with being tall and curvy, but when I am surrounded with stylish stick insects it brings out my childhood yearnings to know what it feels like to be a slight little thing.

That’s an interesting point Barbara and one I hadn’t considered. When I was teaching ESL my long term European students would become more casual in their dress and makeup as time went on. I’d forgotten that, so they must have felt a little on the out. And it does bother me that even a couple of months off my 37th birthday I still can’t help judging my beauty and uniqueness against others. We shouldn’t do it, and it’s a pointless way to make ourselves feel bad because if I really wanted to be a makeup wearing, styled within an inch of her life chick I would be. But I feel most comfortable when I am wearing jeans, a cute top and groovy jewellery and shoes. should have confidence in that.

Thanks for all the comment luv everyone.


15 Lance 07.11.08 at 11:58 pm

Interesting…I’m in the camp that says it’s the Americans that have become a little plump.

I also like what Barbara says, that when visiting another place, it can be easy to feel out of place because of the things that are “in” there, may not be from where we are from. In any rate, I say you’re real and have substance – I see that here! You show off some of these great Australian traits very well.

Lance’s last blog post..Take Action!

16 vered 07.12.08 at 12:26 am

I completely disagree that you look terrible in that photo! My husband saw it and said “she’s cute”. So there. :)

I’ve been to Europe many times, and while I agree that European women have a wonderful sense of style, I find them to be too made-up and overly feminine. I actually prefer a more natural look, and the tiny, frail, very-made-up, heavily-perfumed look is not one of my favorites. Also… they are slim, but many of them achieve it by smoking nonstop, which is a VERY poor choice.

What I’m trying to say is… I have nothing against Europeans, but I don’t think you should feel inferior to them!

vered’s last blog post..Google Search Terms: The Funny, The Sad, And The CREEPY

17 Marelisa 07.12.08 at 7:02 am

Hi Kelly:

26% of Australian adults are overweight, or 26% are obese? A 26% obesity rate is incredible!

I read a while ago that England was going through an obesity epidemic as well. Prince Charles even talked about outlawing McDonald’s (which I’m all for).

I think it’s important to exercise and apply portion control, but I like the natural look a lot better than the dressed to the nines all the time with tons of make-up look. I also like outdoorsy men. Actually, I think a lot of people who refuse to leave the house unless every last strand of hair is in place probably have serious self-confidence issues.

Your son is adorable :-)

Marelisa’s last blog post..Create a Long List of Ways for You to Feel Good

18 San Diego Momma 07.12.08 at 7:07 am

OK. In every picture I see of you, you’re stylish and not fat. What gives?

San Diego Momma’s last blog post..Veggie “Tails”

19 Davina 07.12.08 at 12:06 pm

Hi Kelly.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that picture! In fact, I’d be more comfortable hanging out with you in the first photo than in the second (in which you look gorgeous BTW). Don’t misunderstand… I love to dress up, but at heart, I’m a jeans, t-shirt and barefoot girl for sure.

Davina’s last blog post..The Beauty Path

20 Kelly 07.12.08 at 8:26 pm

@ Marelisa
Unfortunately, the stats are something like 50-60% of Australians are overweight and 26% are now obese. The US is only 1% behind us. Terrible isn’t it? And astonishing.

And everyone thanks for bucking up my ego by telling me I look okay in the photo and I have nothing to worry about. Very appreciated. Now I am home and not feeling so much like a buxom Amazon woman I’m back to my usual perspective. I’m a bit of a babe I guess and I shouldn’t let myself feel bad when standing next to teeny tiny chain smoking whippets. I’m just as sexy as they are and when you look at the stats for my country I should actually feel better about myself, shouldn’t I?


21 Urban Panther 07.14.08 at 10:43 am

You know, I think it has way more to do with confidence than size. For a celebrity case in point, I think Queen Latifah is stunning. My long time best friend has been a larger woman all her life, and yet she was, and still is for that matter, the female that turns all the mens’ heads. As for me, I have been the same size all my adult life. Trim, but not skinny, but it has only been in the last year when I said to myself “Self, you are sexy!” that I’m finally turning heads.

The comment about diet is interesting. I recently moved to Quebec from Ontario and my diet changed dramatically. Who knew that a 5 minute move across the border would be a radically different change in my lifestyle, but it has been. I now eat cheese and baguette, and drink wine on a regular basis, and I fully expected to gain tons of weight. Not so! I’ve even lost weight.

Bottom line, strut your stuff girl! From what I can see, you are one good looking Aussie.

Urban Panther’s last blog post..Bringing down the woolly mammoth

22 Kelly 07.15.08 at 1:56 pm

@Urban Panther
Thanks for the compliment. And I think you’re spot on about the confidence thing. I’ve also known big girls who got ALL the guys. And in different times of my life I’ve seen my “pull” factor double overnight simply because I felt better and sexier one day more than another.


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