Get an ugly guy to marry you
Women with attractive husbands are more likely to develop an eating disorder, a Florida State University study has found.
The study shows wives who crash-diet to slim down are often driven to do so if they feel their husbands are betterlooking than them.
Researchers also found that men were rarely motivated to do the same, regardless of how attractive they considered their wife to be.
Experts say the research is key to improving resources for women who suffer from eating disorders, and could be useful information for couples to keep in mind for their relationship.
Lead author and doctoral student Tania Reynolds said: “The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive.”
She explained that research shows women tended to overperceive just how thin their partners wanted them to be and, as a result, may inappropriately pursue dieting and a thin body.
“One way to help these women is for partners to be reaffirming, reminding them: ‘You’re beautiful. I love you at any weight or body type.’
“Perhaps by also focusing on the ways they are a good romantic partner outside of attractiveness and emphasising those strengths: ‘I really value you because you’re a kind, smart and supportive partner,’” she said.
The research also found that extra motivation to diet did not exist among women judged more attractive than their husbands. As for men, their motivation to diet was low regardless of their wives’ attractiveness, or their own.
The study, published in the journal Body Image, offers productive insights about relationships. It advanced existing research from Andrea Meltzer, assistant professor of psychology at the university, that found marriages tended to be more successful and satisfying when wives were more attractive than their husbands.
It examined 113 newlywed couples – married less than four months, average age late twenties, living in the Dallas area – who agreed to be rated on their attractiveness.
Each participant completed a lengthy questionnaire focusing in part on their desire to diet or have a thin body. Some questions included: “I feel extremely guilty after eating,” or “I like my stomach to be empty” and “I’m terrified of gaining weight.”
A full-body photograph was taken of every participant and rated on a scale of one to 10.
Two teams of undergraduate evaluators studied the photos: one at the Southern Methodist University in Texas focused on spouses’ facial attractiveness, while another at Florida State University looked at body attractiveness. The evaluators varied in sex and cultural make-up.
“The research suggests there might be social factors playing a role in women’s disordered eating,” Reynolds said. – Daily Mail