TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The attractiveness of one’s partner may play a role in their decision to improve their body image, particularly when it comes to women, a new study finds.
Researchers at Florida State University examined 113 newlywed, 20-something couples in Texas to try to evaluate the importance that attractiveness plays in a relationship.
With previous studies having shown that a marriage is more likely to be successful when the wife is more attractive than her husband, the phenomenon of a more-attractive husband particularly piqued the researchers’ interest.
The experiment conducted by the researchers had multiple components.
First, participants were instructed to take a questionnaire examining one’s desire to diet or have a lean figure. Then, a diverse group of researchers evaluated the desirability of each partner in a couple, basing their evaluations on the individual’s facial and body attractiveness.
Based on their findings, their hypothesis — that less-attractive wives felt compelled to appease more-attractive husbands — seemed to have merit.
Women, for example, were found to be more likely to diet and seek a slim figure when they had attractive husbands.
Men, on the other hand, did not diet based on their partner’s attractiveness — or lack thereof.
“The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive,” says researcher Tania Reynolds in a university news release.
These findings are critical in that they offer insight into the causes of more grave conditions caused by a desire to become or stay svelte, such as eating disorders.
“The research suggests there might be social factors playing a role in women’s disordered eating,” Reynolds adds.
Future research could look into whether also being exposed to less-judgmental female companions would help reverse much of the self-inflicted stigma that burdens many women.
The study’s findings are published in the September 2017 edition of the journal Body Image.