Friday, November 07, 2008

Hot women make men feel bad

Hee hee. Misleading title.

I just read a little write-up about some research on the effects of looking at sexy images of women in men's magazines like Maxim, FHM, and Stuff. Here's the link. People have known for a long time that women feel worse about their own bodies when surrounded by air-brushed women in bikinis who work out 3 hours a day. The article presented a series of studies indicating that men too feel worse about their own bodies after viewing these things. The guess, and this is the guess part, not a finding, is that men feel a need to look a certain way to ever be able to get women like those in the magazines.

This makes some sense, and it matches well with the common observation that men looking to actively date often look after themselves physically more at those times. There was some article I saw recently on signs of men who are cheating or hoping to cheat in a marriage where one sign is that he starts working out, dressing up, etc., when he never did before. (In response, I've been getting fat and wearing crappy outfits lately just so N doesn't worry about me. I'm sure she's pleased about this.) This all seems very natural. However, the most interesting finding reported was this:

"Men who looked at sexualized women reported being less likely to ask a woman out on a date or to interact with her."

This then is not quite the same as getting healthy to attract someone. Instead, many men just get depressed that they will never live up to such a standard and drop out of the relationship game instead.

A related study compared the undergrad men looking at women in bikinis with men seeing images of fit guys in great clothes and such. Men didn't get depressed about their own bodies from looking at men who were in a lot better shape than themselves, but again, they did when they checked out the lingerie spreads. This would be a different pattern from women, many of whom do get body-image issues from seeing pictures of women.



Sarah Laurenson said...

ARGH! Body image. It's such a hot topic.

In some places, a large body is a sign of wealth as it means you have more than enough food to eat. There were a few places in Africa where the men dressed themselves prettily and wore perfume to try and capture the attention of a woman. And marriage and divorce were her choice and her choice alone.

The societal crap we have here is more nurture than nature. The overly thin, anorexic models that are put out there as beauty are harmful in many ways. They are harmful to woman who think they must meet that ideal to be attractive. They are harmful to men who see that ideal as unattainable. And they are harmful to those 'blessed' with such 'beauty' as the men who might make them happy do not view them as human.

There have been a number of women who I did not approach for a date because I thought they were out of my league. When I finally did talk to one of them - as a friend - I began to see her in a different light. Yes, she was still very attractive and yes, other people still considered her unattainable, but she only felt rejected and alone because no one would talk to her. And if they did talk to her, they expressed sexual interest and nothing else.

I had some of that treatment myself in college. Men (boys?) did not ask me out on dates, but they did ask me over to their parent's house when the parents were away and talked about the fireplace and the bear skin rug. So all they wanted was sex without even a dinner first? That did not make me feel interested, interesting, human.

When we get over all this crap about having to have the trophy wife or the young stud in order for us to feel we are attractive and acceptable, then we can begin to seek true happiness with someone worthwhile even if that someone is attractive by today's TV beauty standards.

Mamaebeth said...

it is my opinion that the problem arises when people confuse their body image with their self image. That in order to be a person who is worthy of *whatever*, you must look a certain way to deserve it.

Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

I've never really had body image issues. Sure, it would be nice if my boobs were, well, less attracted to gravity. And a smaller tummy would make pants fit nicer. But my body is okay with me, and always has been.

I can also appreciate a fit body (on someone else, OBVIOUSLY). But it doesn't have anything to do with me.

This probably means I am conceited. Even worse, I don't have a hot body and I am confident, so I'm unworthy of my own conceit. LOL.

ChrisEldin said...

Body image for males is just as important an issue. My 8 year old son had a phase recently where he kept saying he was fat. He is not and was not. And I told him, in honest medical terms for his age, that if he were in any way overweight, it is not embarrassing and we would have to exercise. Not a big deal. I had to keep repeating that. I have NO clue where he got that message. I joke about my weight on the blogs, and really want to lose weight, but I never talk about it.

I hate those 'perfect' images. But many are airbrushed. I liked Jamie Lee Curtis for bring attention to the amount of airbrushing that goes on in magazines.

Robin S. said...

Frankly, I'm happy to know men have body inage issues as well, and it effects their willingness to walk up to a woman and have at it with the chatting and the pick up lines. I think wealthy men are probably an exception. Their financial oneupmanship, as it were, trumps for them their lack of physical gorjie-os-ity. I happen to know this is true - the sense of worthiness, so to speak, coming from the non-physical in some men.

Anyway, nice to think about, in all honesty.

writtenwyrdd said...

We do such weird things to ourselves. Makes me crazy thinking about it. Oddly enough, I know I stay fat because I don't want to date. I self sabotage to ensure it, because life is just better when I don't date. I suck at dating, I've given up on it--or have I? Because part of me wants to make absolutely certain I'm not fit for the dating game. It's a weird twist on the looking good body image thing you mention.

DSE said...

You got it all wrong. As a man, I can tell you right now, hot women are depressing because we cannot have them (or more accurately, we cannot have ALL of them). Sure, they might make some of us feel inadequate, but no man compares his own body to that of a woman... that's ridiculous. To a man, "Hell" is being surrounded by beautiful women that he will be forced to look at forever but can never touch. It is simply our nature.