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They say it’s what’s inside that counts – but most young women in this country would beg to differ, it seems. Shocking new research shows almost half of young women aged 18 to 25 would prefer to have large breasts than high intelligence - with a third even saying they would gladly swap. Experts have blamed the growing obsession with celebrity culture among youngsters together with the burgeoning market for plastic surgery.

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The study, which has alarmed women’s groups, also found a quarter of those surveyed felt bigger breasts would make them feel ‘happier’. And almost 60 per cent of the respondents believed that men would be ‘more interested’ in them romantically if they had bigger breasts. It comes amid widespread concern about the pressures put on modern-day women through advertising and magazines. Kat Banyard from women’s group UK Feminista said: ‘Women face now unprecedented pressures to focus on their body. ‘Industries that focus on the way women look are flourishing – and that means that from a very early age, women are taught that the way they look matters more than what they do. ‘The consequences of this can manifest in eating disorders or extreme measures such as plastic surgery. ‘These figures show that women still loathe their bodies on an industrial scale.’

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The survey of 1,142 women by the discount website by www.MyVoucherCodes.co.uk aimed to discover more about the attitudes young women hold towards brains and beauty. In contrast with bigger breasts would attract more men, just 43 per cent felt that men would be ‘more interested’ in them if they had a higher IQ. Researchers also found around 40 per cent of respondents would rather have a ‘slim figure’ than high intelligence, with many stating that it would make them feel ‘more confident’. Almost the same percentage of people said they would swap their IQ in order to be their ‘ideal dress size’. When it came to relationships, most women felt men ‘valued’ intelligence in women, although two thirds said they felt appearance was more important when attracting a partner. The same was true in the workplace, with almost half believing that being ‘attractive’ would also further a woman in her career. Almost 80 per cent also felt they were judged more so on their appearance than their intelligence. Mamta Saha, psychologist, said: ‘Celebrity culture is much more accessible than it ever was before. We are bombarded with images of beautiful women with enhanced features such as full lips and large chests. ‘It’s easy to look at these women and make the connection between the way they look and success – but this can turn into an unhealthy fixation. ‘Beauty will always fade, so it’s important to work on having high self-esteem internally.’

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