Most girls dream of that handsome stranger who will come in and sweep them off their feet, but if new studies are to be believed, it may not be that good an idea.
The relationship between women's objective physical attractiveness and their dieting motivations and behaviors may depend upon their social environment-specifically, their romantic partners' attractiveness-such that less attractive women with more attractive partners may be particularly motivated to diet.
Research from Florida State University shows wives who crash-diet to slim down are often driven to do so if they feel their husband is better-looking than them. Among men, their motivation to look thin was low irrespective of how handsome their wives are, the researchers revealed.
Meltzer and Reynolds examined 113 newlywed couples that had been married less than four months and were in their late 20s, all of whom were living in the Dallas area.
Each participant answered a questionnaire focusing in part on their desire to diet or have a thin body.
A full body photograph was taken of every participant and rated on a scale of 1 to 10.
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.
"If we understand how women's relationships affect their decision to diet and the social predictors for developing unhealthy eating behaviours, then we will be better able to help them", Reynolds said.
It's a sorry state of affairs in the world that many women secretly suffer from eating disorders.
'It might be helpful to identify women at risk of developing more extreme weight-loss behaviors, which have been linked to other forms of psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and dissatisfaction with life'.
The new findings add to existing research from the same research lab showing that marriages tend to be more successful and satisfying when wives are more attractive than their husbands. Conversely, this extra motivation to diet did not exist among the women who were more attractive than their husbands. A team of undergraduate evaluators at Southern Methodist University judged facial attractiveness, while another set of evaluators at FSU rated body beauty. "I love you at any weight or body type, '" Reynolds said.
Meltzer added: "In order to better understand women's dieting motivations, the findings of this study highlight the value of adopting an approach that focuses on a couple's relationship".
The evaluators varied in sex and cultural make-up.
Reynolds thinks an interesting next step for research would be to explore whether women are more motivated to diet when they are surrounded by attractive female friends.