This may seem like old news, but a study has shown that straight women really are determining their self-worth based on what they think men like. This may debunk the myth that women are influenced more by social media and models.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas found that women are happier with their weight if they believe that men prefer full-bodied women instead of those who are model-thin, says lead researcher Andrea Meltzer, a social psychologist at Southern Methodist.
“Women who are led to believe that men prefer women with bodies larger than the models depicted in the media may experience higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression. That could have real implications for women’s mental and physical health, because prior studies have suggested that women who are happy with their bodies tend to eat better, be more active and have more self-esteem. They also tend to be less prone to depression, and shun eating disorders and excessive dieting. Most straight women do tend to believe that straight men desire the type of ‘ultra-thin women’ that are favored by the media,so the new study suggests that interventions that alter women’s perception regarding men’s desires for ideal female body sizes may be effective at improving women’s body image.”
Together with her team, Meltzer conducted three separate studies that led her to this finding, working with a total of 448 women.
Looking at past research that says women who watch TV and read fashion magazines are likely to have a poor body image, they asked participants to look at pictures of plus-sized models wearing a variety of clothing including bathing suits.
Only their bodies were visible to keep participants from being influenced by their facial attractiveness, hair, or makeup.
Several control groups were included and their tasks included looking at photos of full-figured women that were not portrayed as being considered attractive to men.
Another control group was shown pictures of very thin women and they were told that those are the kind of women men desire sexually.
In all three studies, women were more positive about their bodies after looking at pictures of full-figured women who were portrayed as being sexually and aesthetically attractive to men.
Regardless of the positive results of her studies and their potential to improve women’s health, Meltzer admits it’s not clear how long the resulting positive body image lasts after the study and the media remains a constant threat to un-doing the positive body images.
Take-away advice to men: tell your partner you prefer her body type, no matter what it is, and watch her shine.