Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Outcry in India over secondary school textbook that lists the “best” female figure size, based on Miss Universe

India textbook.PNG
Physical education book

The Indian government has launched an investigation into a secondary school textbook that details the ideal body proportions of a woman.

The book, titled Health and Physical Education, describes the "best" female figure as 36"-24"-36". The author cites Miss Universe as the source for this patently ridiculous snippet of, ahem, knowledge.

Photos of the offending manual page were circulated online in the past week, prompting widespread anger over the outrageously sexist and incorrect assertion of so-called facts.

The publication, which is used in a variety of schools that follow India's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus – the equivalent of the UK’s National Curriculum - also states that, "the bones of hips of females are wider and their knees are slightly apart. Due to this shape, females are not able to run properly".

Having listed the apparently optimum female shape, it continues, "that is why in Miss World or Miss Universe competitions, such type of shape is also taken into consideration". 

Image: Twitter user Anuj Khurana (@HaddHaiYaar)

Image: Twitter/ Anuj Khurana (@HaddHaiYaar)

Twitter user Anuj Khurana (@HaddHaiYaar) brought a screenshot of the offending page to the public’s attention (above), after being sent it by a friend of his brother’s, who was studying the text for an exam.

Fellow Twitter users responded with bafflement and anger.

“I mean HOW do you make the world a better place to live in? HOW?” asked one.

“This is so screwed up!!” another woman remarked.

A student who had also been given the textbook to study shared another classic excerpt that appears under a section titled, “points to improve body image and self esteem”:

Image:  Twitter @FarziInsaan

Image: Twitter @FarziInsaan

The book was privately published by the company New Saraswati House.

The education board CBSE said that it was unable to monitor privately published books, and added that individual schools must take responsibility for the materials they use in syllabus teaching.

It moved to distance itself from the publication, branding it “totally incorrect”.

Indian minister Prakash Javadekar condemned the "sexist" book

Announcing an inquiry, Indian minister Prakash Javadekar said he condemned the "sexist" book and had moved to take "appropriate action".

 "I have instructed the officers to take strict action against those behind this textbook and all schools should ensure they have proper books,” he said.

The publishers, based in Delhi, said they had "stopped the printing, selling and distribution of the revised book with immediate effect".

This isn’t the first time textbooks in India have become embroiled in controversy.

In 2012, a storm erupted over a book that taught 11-year-olds that people who eat meat “easily cheat, tell lies, they forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes”.


lisa wilkinson 2.jpg

Newsreader has best response to being shamed for wearing same top

ross sandwich.jpg

Badass wife teaches her sexist partner an unforgettable lesson

Dutch TV show.JPG

Dutch game show asks men to guess if a woman is “fat or pregnant”


The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Why it’s totally fine if you don’t have a ‘work wife’

Having friends at work is nice – but it’s not the be all and end all

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

Meteorologist’s epic response to troll who called her “disgusting”

“Enough is enough.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 Aug 2017

Acts of love, humanity and solidarity following the Barcelona attack

In the darkness, there is light.

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

How you can help those caught up in the Barcelona attack

The ways you can support the victims, survivors and investigation

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

People are furious about Trump’s response to the Barcelona attack

The world is sick of his double-standard on terrorism

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Ryan Phillipe on how he tackles depression

“I’m thinking about how to focus and steady myself”

by Susan Devaney
17 Aug 2017

Are black girls being forced to grow up too fast?

A study has shown that black girls as young as five are seen as more adult than their white peers

by Kemi Alemoru
17 Aug 2017

Teen receives sickening messages after asking for career advice

This businessman's response was shocking

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017

We want everything from this new high-street Disney collaboration

Seriously magical

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017