Dating Someone More Attractive Than You Can Mess With Your Head, Science Says
As if we women didn't already feel enough distress while trying to navigate dating and smash the patriarchy, it seems we're met with yet ANOTHER source of unnecessary pressure.
Are we surprised? Who is surprised? Sit down if you're surprised because you're lying.
This time, the pressure comes in the form of how attractive your partner is, and how that influences your desire to change your eating habits and other lifestyle choices.
A recent study conducted by researchers from Florida State University found that people — women, in particular — report feeling pressured to change their bodies to achieve a "slim body," depending on how attractive their partner is perceived to be.
For the study, published in Body Image, researchers spoke to 113 couples (all around their late 20s) who were recently married. All the couples gave researchers permission to rate their level of attractiveness.
The couples were required to complete a questionnaire about whether or not they have a desire to diet, and researchers also took a full-body photo of each person. Then, students evaluated each photo for facial attraction and bodily attraction on a scale of one to 10.
Essentially, the researchers found that women who were rated lower on the scales of attractiveness were reportedly more inclined to want to diet, assuming their husbands were rated more attractive.
"The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive," said doctoral student Tania Reynolds.
OK, so I know what you're thinking. "Why blame the patriarchy? Wasn't the same effect shown in guys?"
Well, hold on to your butts, naysayers, because the patriarchy is still hard at work here.
The researchers found that women considered more attractive than their husbands did NOT report the motivation to diet or achieve a slim look for their husbands. More than that, the desire to diet was low for men across the board in the study.
Wow, it's almost like women inherently feel the pressure of societal standards of attractiveness more so than men do. I, for one, am completely shocked. Please revive me. The shock killed me.
According to the study authors, these findings support the idea that this trend could contribute to more grave health effects for women.
"The research suggests there might be social factors playing a role in women's disordered eating," Reynolds said. "It might be helpful to identify women at risk of developing more extreme weight-loss behaviors, which have been linked to other forms of psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and dissatisfaction with life."
The researchers also explained that sometimes, women may be under the impression that their partners want them to be thinner than they actually do. (Thanks, unattainable beauty standards rampant in mainstream media!!!!!!!)
One way to help these women is for partners to be very reaffirming, reminding them, 'You're beautiful. I love you at any weight or body type.' Or perhaps focusing on the ways they are a good romantic partner outside of attractiveness and emphasizing those strengths: 'I really value you because you're a kind, smart and supportive partner.'
Ladies, even when the pressure from outside sources to diet or to change your body seems insurmountable, push against that pressure instead. Your choice to change your body in any way should come from you and you alone, NOT from the manipulative ways in which we're influenced by male desire.
Literally, just do you, eat what makes you feel good, and wash it down with the tears of everyone who thinks you should change your body in a certain way.