prior studies have suggested that women who are happy with their bodies tend to eat better, be more active, have more self-esteem, are less prone to depression, and shun eating disorders and excessive dieting.
HealthDay writer Robert Preidt reported on the research of SMU social psychologist Andrea L. Meltzer for the news site U.S. News & World Report. Meltzer was lead author on a new series of studies that found that telling women that men desire larger women who aren’t model-thin made the women feel better about their own weight.
Results of the three independent studies suggest a woman’s body image is strongly linked to her perception of what she thinks men prefer. The researchers found that how women perceive men’s preferences influenced each woman’s body image independent of her actual body size and weight. “On average, heterosexual women believe that heterosexual men desire ultra-thin women,” says Meltzer.
The article, “When Women Think Men Prefer Bigger Gals, They’re Happier With Their Weight,” was published Jan. 15.
Meltzer is an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Psychology.
By Robert Preidt
When it comes to how satisfied they are with their own bodies, notions women hold of what men look for in females may be key, a new study suggests.
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.
“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,” lead researcher Andrea Meltzer, a social psychologist at Southern Methodist, said in a university news release.
The study included almost 450 women, the majority of whom were white, who were shown images of women who were either ultra-thin or larger-bodied.
Some women were also told by the researchers that men who had viewed the pictures had tended to prefer the thinner women, while others were told that men had preferred the larger women.
Both groups of women then completed a questionnaire meant to assess how they felt about their weight.
The result: women who were told that men prefer larger-bodied women were more satisfied with their own weight.
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see www.smu.edu.
SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.